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>>Bears, Vikings Finale Has Plenty of Meaning

 

For the fourth time in the past five years, the Chicago Bears will visit the Minnesota Vikings in the last game on the schedule.

 

For once, this matchup has some meaning.

 

The Vikings, having already ceded the NFC North title to the Bears, have yet to secure a spot in the playoffs. The Bears could still improve their seed and snag that coveted first-round bye, if they win and the Los Angeles Rams also lose at home to San Francisco.

 

If not, the Vikings (8-6-1) would be the likeliest opponent for the Bears (11-4) in the wild-card round next week.

 

The NFL arranged the schedule to minimize the anticlimactic outcomes, moving the Bears-Vikings game to the late-afternoon slot so it would be played simultaneously with Eagles-Redskins, Cardinals-Seahawks and 49ers-Rams.

 

The Vikings are guaranteed the last wild-card spot if Philadelphia loses at Washington. They would get the No. 5 seed and a first-round game at Dallas with a win and a loss by Seattle at home to Arizona. Their long-shot scenario is starting the postseason in Los Angeles, if they lose to the Bears and the Rams and Eagles lose, too.

 

>>Packers, Lions Wrap Up Regular Season in Green Bay

 

The Green Bay Packers are 2-1 under interim head coach Joe Philbin going into their season finale against the Detroit Lions, who have stumbled to the finish line having lost seven of their past nine games.

Coach Matt Patricia's job seems safe, though his first year in the Motor City has definitely been disappointing. With the playoffs out of sight for each team, the Lions and Packers go into their game at Lambeau Field hoping to ride a win into the offseason.

 

The Lions (5-10) were assured of their first last-place finish since 2012 following a 27-9 loss to Minnesota last week.

 

While the Packers (6-8-1) are assured of a second straight losing season, they at least seem to be rejuvenated since Philbin was promoted from offensive coordinator to interim head coach following the firing of Mike McCarthy.

 

A 44-38 win in overtime over the New York Jets finally got the Packers their only road victory of the season.

 

Linebacker Clay Matthews missed practice at midweek with a back injury, while receiver Randall Cobb sat out while in the concussion protocol. Both veterans are free agents after this season, meaning they could be playing their last games at Lambeau as Packers — if they're healthy enough to play at all. 

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