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NFC North Roundup, Week 15: Lions beat Vikings to stay in division, wild card races

The Lions’ chances of winning the North remain an extremely long shot, but they’re not zero just yet.

Minnesota Vikings v Detroit Lions Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Minnesota Vikings had a chance to close the door on any potential late-season surge by the Detroit Lions last Sunday. Minnesota could have locked up the NFC North while maintaining a two-game lead for the second seed in the NFC playoff picture with a win at Ford Field; instead, they lost their third game of the season as Detroit continued their winning ways.

The Lions are officially on a hot streak. They have scored at least 25 points in each of their last five games and six of their last seven; they also have a +2 point differential on the season, better than that of the Vikings (minus-1) despite trailing by four games in the standings.

And with that win, Detroit kept themselves very much alive in the Wild Card race and maintained their long-shot odds at an NFC North title. The latter requires that Detroit win their final four games while the Vikings lose their last four, but that possibility still remains.

The Green Bay Packers, of course, will hope that they put an end to any Lions hopes in week 18, as the green and gold look to win out and keep themselves in the postseason hunt as well. But for at least one more week, Detroit’s prayers of a home playoff game and a division title remain alive.

Here’s where things stand following Week 14, when both the Packers and Chicago Bears were idle on their bye weeks.

Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

Week 14: Lost at Lions 34-23
Week 15: vs. Indianapolis Colts

NFC Playoff Picture: Vikings lose any real chance at #1 seed | Daily Norseman
The loss to the Lions probably eliminates Minnesota's shot at the top seed, but now they also have the 49ers nipping at their heels for the #2 spot.

O’Connell: Donatell will keep defensive play-calling duties despite Vikings struggles | Yahoo! Sports
Minnesota's defense has given up the most yards of any in the NFL this season, and Sunday's loss was the fifth straight game that they've allowed at least 400. However, their head coach isn't planning any changes for the playcalling duties on that side of the ball.

Detroit Lions (6-7)

Week 14: Won vs. Vikings 34-23
Week 15: at New York Jets

Detroit Lions garnering TONS of national attention after win vs. Vikings - Pride Of Detroit
The Lions have won 5 of their last 6 games, with the only loss coming on a last-second field goal by the Bills on Thanksgiving Day. Although their defense is still giving up major yardage (they're 31st in the league, ahead of only Minnesota), they're getting some timely turnovers and the offense is doing enough to earn Ws.

Playoffs? Evaluating the Lions chances to make the postseason | Lions Wire
538 puts the Lions' playoff chances at 20% as of right now, about three times those of the Packers. Of course, those numbers hinge significantly on the result of the teams' Week 18 meeting at Lambeau Field, which could be important (or not) for either or both teams.

Chicago Bears (3-10)

Week 14: Bye
Week 15: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

How High is Justin Fields’ Ceiling? - Windy City Gridiron
A former NFL scout gives his opinion on the progress that Fields has made in his second season.

Positive news on Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker and Khalil Herbert |
Bears rookie defensive backs Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker have been removed from concussion protocol after missing the last two games and will get a chance to put some more snaps on tape over the final four games.