In week 17, The NFL is getting what it always hopes for when they create the schedule each spring. Each of this week’s NFC North matchups have playoff implications and there is another NFL record in jeopardy.
After the Detroit Lions’ Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record last week, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has the single-season rushing record in his sights. Peterson needs just 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2,105 yards.
Peterson’s Vikings host the Green Bay Packers and that game has been flexed by the NFL to the 3pm CDT time slot. It is setting up to be one of the better matchups around the league. Green Bay can secure the second seed with a victory or both a San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks loss. For the Vikings, it’s simple: win and they’re in.
The Chicago Bears are still alive in the wild card race after beating the Arizona Cardinals. Chicago travels to Detroit and must win to keep any hopes alive of securing the last wild card spot. The Bears also are in the precarious position of having to cheer for their arch enemy Packers. Should Bears win and the Packers beat the Vikings, the Bears would claim the sixth and final seed in the NFC.
Let’s look at the matchups and playoff scenarios a bit more closely.
Chicago Bears (9-6) at Detroit Lions (4-11)
The Lions got pounded by the Atlanta Falcons this past Saturday to make official what we already knew: Detroit is horrible. The only bright spot in the game, and really their entire season, was Johnson surpassing Rice’s previous total. Rice established the record of 1,848 yards with the San Francisco 49ers in 1995.
Johnson and the Lions can deliver a huge jab to the gut of Chicago by pulling off the upset this week. A Chicago loss would eliminate the Bears from playoff contention. While it’s not likely given the recently level of play by both teams, crazy things have happened this season and Detroit has at least an outside shot of pulling off the win.