Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert
Our Tuesday chat over at SportsNation included more than a few questions about playoff scenarios, an unusual topic for the second week of November, but nevertheless relevant in our suddenly reeling division.
I’ve checked with some people who would know, and as Tom W. pointed out, Minnesota could clinch the NFC North before we reach December. It’s a difficult but not ridiculous possibility. Here’s how it would happen:
Minnesota would win its next three games, defeating Detroit, Seattle and Chicago. The Vikings would be 10-1 at that point.
Chicago would lose to Minnesota and at least one of its other two opponents (San Francisco or Philadelphia) over that stretch. The Bears would be no better than 5-6 at that point.
Green Bay would lose at least two of its next three games. Opponents include Dallas, San Francisco and Detroit. The Packers would be 5-6 at that point.
Even if the Vikings lost their remaining games thereafter, neither the Bears nor Packers could beat them on tiebreakers with identical 10-6 records. Minnesota’s division record would carry it over Chicago, and it would defeat the Packers based on head-to-head.
So if everything occurs on this timeline, the Vikings would clinch the NFC North by defeating the Bears on Nov. 29 at the Metrodome. Again, a lot would have to happen for this to occur. But if anything, the mere possibility speaks to the sudden separation we have in this division.