Bears can clinch with victory tonight vs. Eagles

Bears can clinch with victory tonight vs. Eagles
December 22, 2013, 6:30 pm
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Mark Strotman

A lot needed to happen for the Bears to be in this position, but everything fell into place: the Bears can clinch the NFC North with a win over the Eagles tonight.

Both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers lost their late-afternoon contests, meaning the Bears now hold a 1.5-game lead on the Lions, with whom they would lose a tiebreaker should they tie in the standings.

Detroit was a 10-point favorite at home against the 5-9 New York Giants, but couldn't secure a victory inside Ford Field for the second straight week. After falling behind 13-3 at halftime, Matthew Stafford led the Lions on a pair of second-half scoring drives, with a safety sandwiched in between to give Detroit a 20-13 lead following a two-point conversion. But with five minutes remaining, Stafford was intercepted by safety Will Hill, who returned the pick 38 yards for a score.

In overtime, the Giants fumbled inside Lions territory on their first drive of overtime. Stafford and the Lions offense, playing with a hobbled Calvin Johnson, couldn't gain any ground and were forced to punt. Manning got the ball back and drove the Giants 45 yards in 11 plays -- including a key 4th and 7 conversion from the Lions' 42. Josh Brown's 45-yard field goal sent the Lions to 7-8.

In Green Bay, Le'Veon Bell scored from one yard out with 1:28 remaining to give the Steelers a 38-31 lead.

The Packers returned the kick inside the Steelers' 30 yard line. The Packers got down to the 1-yard line with 20 seconds remaining, but a costly false start penalty resulted in a 10-second run-off. On the game's final play, Matt Flynn's throw to Jarrett Boykin was incomplete, sending the Packers to 7-7-1.

The Bears can now clinch the NFC North with a win. They would move to 9-6, and both the Bears and Packers can only get to eight wins at most with wins next week.

If the Bears lose, they still lead the NFC North and would be in with a win in Week 17 over the Packers. The Lions officially are out of the playoff race.