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NFC North recap: Lions eliminated from playoff hunt, Bears trend up

Things are exactly how you’d expect them to be.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Packers defeat Panthers at home, 24-16

It was looking like it might be another Packers blowout after three straight touchdown drives and a 21-3 lead to start the game, but the Panthers managed to make a game out of things in the second half.

Thanks mostly to their defense, the Panthers brought the score to a one-possession game with two minutes left and even gave themselves a shot to tie things up near the end of the game. However, after a bizarre series of play calls and not getting the ball past their own 26-yard line, the Panthers fell short.

Aaron Rodgers had himself a very pedestrian performance with only 143 passing yards on 29 attempts, but did run one in for a touchdown early in the game. Aaron Jones carried the offense on his back with 20 carries, 145 yards and a touchdown.

As a result of their win, the Packers are now leading the entire conference with a record of 11-3.

Next game: vs. Titans (10-4)

Bears outscore Vikings in a barn burner, 33-27

Bears

This was a must-win game for both teams, and I did not expect it to be the Bears that would come out more prepared. Despite the final score, there wasn’t really a point where the Bears would lose this game. After a quick TD on their second possession, they managed to keep the lead for the rest of the game.

Running back David Montgomery showed off his ability to be a workhorse back with 32 carries on the day. He punched the ball into the end zone twice and finished the game with 146 rushing yards.

The Bears’ defense wasn’t spectacular, but it showed up in key situations. They held the Vikings to 4-for-13 on third and fourth-down conversions and came up with a huge interception on the final pass of the game to close things out.

Next game: @ Jaguars (1-13)

Vikings

How’s everything going in Minnesota? (language warning below)

Not great!

Justin Jefferson continues to have a historically great rookie year at wide receiver, and it’s all the more impressive when Kirk Cousins is his quarterback. Though the offense struggled throughout the game, Jefferson still managed to bring in eight catches for over 100 receiving yards. It is most unfortunate that the Lions have to see him twice a year.

As mentioned before, the Vikings did a good job of keeping themselves in this game, but they just could not get themselves over the hump and steal the lead away from the Bears. Cousins had an up-and-down day that just wasn’t good enough. The only real bright spots aside from Jefferson were that Dan Bailey didn’t miss a single kick and Dalvin Cook was his normal self.

Next game: @ Saints (10-4)

NFC North Standings after Week 15

1. Green Bay Packers (11-3)
2. Chicago Bears (7-7)
3. Minnesota Vikings (6-8)
4. Detroit Lions (5-9)

The Lions are now mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, while the Packers have now clinched a division title with relative ease. The Vikings still technically have a shot, but would need a miracle, and the Bears have a one-in-three shot at getting a wild card spot.