We tried to break down the NFC North race earlier in the week and forecast what would happen with tiebreakers that could come into play. Our initial finding was that it wasn't looking good for the Bears (6-6) if they wound up in a tie at season's end with Minnesota (7-5). The Vikings are in a position where they're ahead in most of the critical tiebreakers that are used.
That is still the case and as it stands now, if the Vikings win Sunday when they travel to Ford Field to face the winless (and hapless) Detroit Lions, the Bears are in a worse spot than they currently are. A Minnesota win Sunday would ensure the Vikings would win the division if they finish in a tie with the Bears.
A Lions' win over the Vikings and everything is wide open again when it comes to ties and the many scenarios that could be in play.
Bears PR man Mike Corbo breaks the entire scenario down:
Entering Sunday's action, the Chicago Bears (6-6) are one game behind NFC North leader Minnesota (7-5) and one game ahead of the Green Bay Packers (5-7) in a race for the division title. The remaining schedule for each team is the following:
Bears: vs. Jacksonville (4-8); vs. New Orleans (6-6); vs. Green Bay (5-7); at Houston (5-7).
Vikings: at Detroit (0-12); at Arizona (7-5); vs. Atlanta (8-4); vs. N.Y. Giants (11-1).
Packers: vs. Houston (5-7); at Jacksonville (4-8); at Chicago (6-6); vs. Detroit (0-12).
Tie Breakers: 1. In head-to-head competition: Bears vs. Vikings (1-1); Bears vs. Packers (0-1; Play Dec. 22 at CHI); Vikings vs. Packers (1-1).
2. Record against division opponents: Bears (3-2; vs. GB); Vikings (3-2; at DET); Packers (3-1; at CHI, vs. DET)
3. Common Games (non-division opponents): Bears (1-4; vs. JAX, vs. NO; at HOU); Vikings (4-3; vs. ATL); Packers (1-5; vs. HOU, at JAX)
4. Conference record: Bears (5-5; vs. NO, vs. GB); Vikings (5-3; at DET, at ARZ, vs. ATL, vs. NYG); Packers (4-6; at CHI; vs. DET)
What it all means for the Bears:
If the Vikings beat Detroit this weekend they would hold all tie-breakers over Chicago, which means the Bears would have to wind up with a better overall record than Minnesota to win the division. The Bears will have to win at least three of their remaining four contests in this scenario and have the Vikings lose their final three games (That would leave the Bears at 9-7 and the Vikings at 8-8).
If the Vikings win two of their remaining four contests with one being a victory at Detroit, the Bears have to win all four of their remaining contests (That would leave the Bears at 10-6 and the Vikings at 9-7). The Vikings win the division if they win at least three of their remaining four contests, including a win at Detroit, even if the Bears win all four games due to tie-breaker No. 4 (Conference Record).
If the Vikings lose to Detroit, the Bears can hold the tie-breaker by defeating the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 22 (Chicago would then hold tie-breaker No. 2 over Minnesota).
If the Vikings lose to the Lions and the Bears lose to Packers, Chicago will have to finish with a better overall record than Minnesota and Green Bay in order to win the division due to both teams holding tie-breakers over Chicago.
If the Vikings beat the Lions and the Bears lose to the Packers, Chicago would have to win all three other games and have the Vikings lose their remaining three and Green Bay lose at least once.
Thanks to Corbo for the full look at what Sunday's games will mean.