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NFL playoff picture: Bears loss opens door for Packers

The Packers have an opportunity to run away with the NFC North after Chicago's third loss in four games.

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

After once being in a strong position to win the division outright, it's becoming increasingly difficult to see the Chicago Bears winning the NFC North this year. A 21-14 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday drops the Bears' record to 8-5, giving the Green Bay Packers an opportunity to pass them in the standings for good.

Entering this week, both the Bears and Packers had identical 8-4 records, though Green Bay technically had the advantage given its Week 2 victory over Chicago. A Packers win against the Detroit Lions on Sunday night would boost their record to 9-4, giving them sole possession of first place in the NFC North for the first time in weeks.

With the Bears scheduled to play the Packers next Sunday, the NFC North could potentially be all sorted out by end of that game. If Green Bay wins, it'll clinch the division for the Packers, as they would hold the tiebreaker over the Bears in the event that both teams finish 10-6.

The loss also puts some pressure on the Bears to even win the wild card, as they're now only one game ahead of the Vikings, Washington Redskins and a surging Dallas Cowboys team that beat the Bengals, 20-19, on Sunday.