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Know the NFC North: Week 17

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A roundup of how the NFC North performed in the final week of the 2014 regular season.

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Final NFC North standings

Green Bay Packers: 12-4

Detroit Lions: 11-5

Minnesota Vikings: 7-9

Chicago Bears: 5-11

Green Bay Packers

Last week: 30-20 home win against the Detroit Lions

If you can handle reading any more about the Packers' Week 17 defeat of the Lions, go here.

Next week: First-round playoff bye

Minnesota Vikings

Last week: 13-9 home win against the Chicago Bears

The Vikings ended their turbulent season on a high note this week by putting the Bears out of their misery. Although the Vikings finished the year with a losing record, they steadily improved throughout the season and their arrow -- as well as the arrow of rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater -- seems to be pointing up. The Vikings have won, or lost by less than one score, every week since their Week 6 loss to the Lions.

In contrast, the Bears' loss was their fifth consecutive and was the perfect culmination to their season. As a result of their poor play, the Bears parted ways with coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery on Monday. Maybe next time the Bears will go with a coach who has American football experience.

The Vikings-Bears matchup was mainly a defensive slugfest, with Bridgewater finding a wide open Adam Thielen for a 44-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter for the only TD of the game.

Highlights

Audie Cole - Cole came out of nowhere this week in his first career start at linebacker to rack up 14 total tackles to go with a pass defense and a +7.8 Pro Football Focus grade. The former seventh-round pick in 2012 was so explosive that there were immediate discussions after the game of allowing Cole to replace the more expensive and older Chad Greenway next year in Greenway's final contract year.

Lowlights

Cordarrelle Patterson - What a disappointment. Patterson was electric last year when he touched the ball and was picked by many, myself included, to have a breakout year. Instead, he was utterly ineffective all season. His year ended with just six offensive snaps against the Bears, and he directly caused Bridgewater's only interception of the game. The former first-rounder is flirting with the big, bad "bust" label.

Chicago Bears

Last week: 13-9 loss at the Minnesota Vikings

Highlights

The season is over - What a train wreck. For all the hype about the Bears coming into this season, they were atrocious. They have decent talent in place on offense, but suffered from a porous offensive line, poor play calling and a lack of leadership. On defense, Father Time finally caught up with the elderly Bears personnel, knocking out several key starters like Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs. Chicago has some serious rebuilding to do next year with their new coach and front office if they want to return to NFC North title contention in 2015.

Lowlights

Matt Forte - Against the stout Vikings defense, Forte managed only 51 yards and a measly 3.0 yards per carry average. Forte started off this season on fire, but quickly petered out and has been very average over the past few weeks. He may be suffering from overuse, as evidenced by the fact that he set the record for the most receptions by a running back in a season this week.

Jay Cutler - Just for old times' sake. Was this Cutler's last game in a Bears uniform? Probably not, but I know a few Bears fans who are hoping.