The Terrible NFC North Keeps Bears' Playoff Hopes Alive

Standings a picture of mediocrity

The NFC North standings are a picture of mediocrity. The Bears, Vikings and Packers are all 5-5, with the Lions in the cellar at 0-10. With six games left to go in the regular season, there is no telling what team will rise above the rest. Can you believe that one of these teams will actually go to the playoffs?

The records are not the only thing that make the black and blue division such a pitiful place. All three teams are in the bottom half of the league on total offense. The teams are good on defense, but that's not setting the league on fire. The Vikings rank in the top five for defense and rushing offense -- mostly due to Adrian Peterson -- but have still lost five times. The Packers have a strong passing defense and the Bears are good at stopping the run, but that's about it.

The players are not all that spectacular, either. There is not a Barry Sanders-like star who can rise above their team's play. There have been a few breakout stars, but nothing earth-shattering. The Bears are enjoying Matt Forte's rookie year, but not enough to give him the ball more than 16 times during today's loss to the Packers. Adrian Peterson, also known as Purple Jesus, has had another fantastic year with over 1,100 yards for the Vikings. Aaron Rodgers has been a happy surprise for the Packers after the Brett Favre saga finally came to an end.

So who will emerge to claim the playoff spot? The Bears have as good a shot as any if they improve on the way they played against the Packers today. They travel to St. Louis and Minnesota in the coming weeks. It would be shocking if the Bears lost to the Rams, but the game against Minnesota will be incredibly important in the NFC North race. If the Bears lose that game, their chances to play in the postseason will be slim.

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