GREEN BAY – The Packers will have to wait at least another week to wrap up the NFC North.
Due to Minnesota's victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night, Green Bay's magic number to clinch the division remains at two, so the best the Packers can do is reduce it to one on Sunday night vs. the Bears.
There is a way for Green Bay to clinch at least a wild-card playoff spot, though.
The Packers need a win over the Bears, plus losses by New Orleans and San Francisco to secure a playoff berth.
So, in order to see Green Bay lock up a postseason spot as soon as possible, root for the Jets to beat the Saints and for the Bengals to defeat the 49ers.
If both of those results happen Sunday afternoon, the Packers will take Lambeau Field that night with the opportunity to clinch a playoff spot by beating the Bears.
(There is another scenario whereby the Saints and Rams both lose and the 49ers tie, but the rarity of ties makes it barely worth mentioning. Plus, as noted below, it's more to the Packers' benefit if the Rams win this week.)
As for the NFC picture as a whole, two games separate the top five teams in the conference, currently ordered as follows:
1. Arizona (10-2), 2. Green Bay (9-3), 3. Tampa Bay (9-3), 4. Dallas (8-4), 5. LA Rams (8-4).
All these teams have now had their byes, so everyone is playing every week from here on out.
The biggest game amongst the others to keep an eye on will be Monday night, as LA travels to Arizona. The Rams are looking to climb within a game of the Cardinals' lead in the NFC West, while Arizona is hoping to take a three-game lead with four to play and relegate LA to the wild-card picture.
For the Packers, of course, a Cardinals loss would help immensely in the chase for the No. 1 seed, which carries with it the lone NFC bye and home-field advantage throughout.
If Green Bay beats Chicago on Sunday, followed by LA beating Arizona on Monday, the Packers wouldn't need any more help to get the top spot, due to owning the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
So root for the Rams to win the big Monday night showdown.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Dallas has an important NFC East matchup at Washington, which trails the division leader by two games. With the Cowboys right on the Packers' heels, cheering for a Washington win would help Green Bay keep its distance.
Leading up to the evening Bears-Packers tilt is another big game, with Buffalo at Tampa Bay. This is the Buccaneers' toughest remaining game, as it's their only one left against a team above .500 on the season.
Currently, Green Bay owns the tiebreaker on Tampa Bay due to a better conference record, so if the Packers win out, the Buccaneers can't overtake them.
But clearly, pulling for the Bills to knock them off would help the Packers' cause, because it's hard to see the Buccaneers getting a fourth loss elsewhere.