The Minnesota Vikings get their second crack at clinching the NFC North when they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. A win over the Bengals Sunday will give them their second division title in the past three seasons.
In addition to Sunday's big game against the Bengals, the Vikings could use help from around the league as they continue to fight for playoff positioning, including a first-round bye and home-field advantage over the final three weeks.
The following three games from this weekend could have an impact on their long-term postseason possibilities.
Chicago Bears (4-9) at Detroit Lions (7-6) | 3:30 p.m. (CT) Saturday | Ford Field
Saturday will feature two contests, including this NFC North battle. The Vikings have a three-game lead over the Lions as Detroit continues to fight to keep alive their playoff hopes. Following a win in Tampa Bay last week, the Lions host the Bears, who are coming off of a 33-7 victory of the Bengals. The Bears have been eliminated from playoff contention but are looking for strong finishes from their young core, including rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky.
If the Lions win on Saturday, they will be keeping their eyes on games around the league Sunday as they look to play in the postseason for the second consecutive season. They currently don't hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over any of the non-NFC North teams fighting for a Wild Card spot. They do, however, hold the head-to-head over Green Bay with a Week 17 matchup looming.
A Lions loss would drastically decrease their playoff chances, but would help the Vikings. If both Detroit and Green Bay lose, the Vikings outcome on Sunday doesn't matter and they would clinch the division.
Green Bay Packers (7-6) at Carolina Panthers (9-4) | Noon (CT) Sunday | Bank of America Stadium
A lot of eyes will be on this game for more reasons other than the playoff fight. Aaron Rodgers is set to return to the field for the first time since being sidelined after breaking his collarbone against the Vikings in Week 6.
Carolina enters Week 15 holding one of the two Wild Card spots in the NFC. As of now, Carolina is the only team behind the Vikings that holds a head-to-head advantage. A Panthers loss over the next three weeks would help the Vikings chances at having at least a first-round bye.
Green Bay enters the week on the outside of the playoff race looking in. Starting Sunday, each game is essentially a playoff contest as they would likely need to win out in order to have a chance at making the postseason. With Aaron Rodgers returning for the final three games, plenty of people will be paying attention to what the Packers do to close out the season.
Los Angeles Rams (9-4) at Seattle Seahawks (8-5) | 3:05 p.m. (CT) Sunday | CenturyLink Field
After the Vikings game wraps up on Sunday, many fans will get to watch what could turn out to be the NFC West title game. The Rams enter with a one-game lead, but the Seahawks currently hold the head-to-head advantage thanks to a win back in Week 5.
If the Rams win, they'll hold a two-game lead with two games to go. They'd just need to win one of their final games or have the Seahawks lose one of theirs and they would clinch their first NFC West title since 2003. If Seattle wins, they'd hold the advantage over the Rams and could then claim the division by finishing with an identical or better record than Los Angeles. Given the current Wild Card race, both of these teams have their sights set on the division to ensure a postseason berth.