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Packers Could Clinch Division Crown Sunday


The Packers could clinch the NFC North title this weekend.

This weekend the Green Bay Packers have an opportunity to clinch their first division title since 1997, but to do so they need not only defeat the Minnesota Vikings at the Metrodome, but also have the New York Jets triumph over the Detroit Lions at Ford Field, the NFL confirmed Monday.

A Packers win would push their record to 9-1 on the season, while a Jets win would drop the Lions to 3-7. With six games left on the schedule after that, the best the Lions could do would be to tie the Packers at 9-7. But the Packers would own the tiebreaker in such an instance, having already defeated the Lions in both meetings this year.

Of course, even if the Packers win this weekend, that wouldn't prohibit the Chicago Bears from ending the season in a tie at 9-7. The Bears would have to win-out the rest of their season to do so, leading to a split of their head-to-head meetings with the Packers in the process.

In that instance, the tiebreaker would be divisional record.

As of now, the Bears can go no better than 3-3 against NFC North opponents this season. Should the Packers defeat the Vikings this weekend -- a necessary element in all of these possibilities -- Green Bay could go no worse than 4-2.

Should Green Bay clinch the inaugural NFC North title this weekend, it would not only mark the earliest securing of a division title in franchise history, but also in league history since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

Since the NFL implemented division play in 1933, the Packers have won 14 division titles. Thirteen of those were clinched during the season, the exception being 1965, when the Packers defeated the Baltimore Colts in a sudden death playoff.

The most games the Packers ever had remaining on the schedule after securing a division crown was three, back in 1967.

To clinch this weekend, the Packers would have to match the team's longest in-season winning streak since 1963, when the Packers responded to an 0-1 start by winning eight consecutive games en route to what was an 11-2-1 season.

Including carryovers however, the Packers are still two games short of matching the nine-game regular season winning streak that started with the last five games of 1997 and moved into the first four games of 1998.

Over the last decade, the Metrodome hasn't cultivated Packers wins. Green Bay has won only two of its last 10 games at Minnesota. However, both of those wins have come in the last five years, including a 33-28 triumph in 2000.

NOTE: The Packers-Vikings contest is set for noon, CST. The Lions-Jets game does not kickoff until 3:15 p.m., CST. As a result, even if the Packers defeat the Vikings, the status of their division title will not be immediately known.

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