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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Brendan Sugrue

NFC North Week 16 power rankings: Vikings win the division

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The race for the NFC North division crown has finally come to an end and not surprisingly, it’s the Minnesota Vikings who claim the title. What is surprising, however, was the way they were able to do with their historic comeback.

But when two more teams in the division, the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers, also got wins, was it enough to vault them back up to the top of the power rankings? Here’s how the division stacks up going into Week 16 of the season.

1. Minnesota Vikings (11-3)

Oct 30, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) celebrates his touchdown with wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
  • Last week’s ranking: No. 2
  • Week 15 result: 39-36 win vs. Indianapolis Colts

There have been a handful of epic comebacks in NFL history, but none like the one the Vikings had on Saturday against the Indianapolis Colts. Trailing 33-0 at halftime, Minnesota rallied to score 36 second half points, while the Colts treaded water and allowed them in the game. The result was an overtime thrilled with the Vikings on top for the largest comeback in NFL history.

The Vikings looked like they were dead in the water and turned a spark into a raging fire to claw their way back in the game. It showed resiliency and toughness, while ensuring the NFC North was theirs. The game was enough to get them back in first place in the power rankings and now they face the New York Giants on Christmas Eve.

2. Detroit Lions (7-7)

Oct 23, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell reacts during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
  • Last week’s rankings No. 1
  • Week 15 result: 20-17 win at New York Jets

The Lions may not have had a single-game comeback quite like the Vikings, but they’re in the middle of one of the biggest single-season comebacks in recent memory. After a 1-6 start, the Lions are a .500 football team with playoff aspirations in clear sight following their win over the New York Jets. It’s something that seemed impossible back in October, but they’re now one of the most dangerous teams in football and have been since mid-November.

Detroit got their sixth win in seven weeks, defeating the New York Jets without their potent offense carrying the load. They were stifled for much of the day and were trailing late, but they found life when Jared Goff threw a risky fourth-and-one pass that resulted in a long touchdown. It was a gritty game that showed the Lions are learning how to win the close ones, something they couldn’t do earlier in the season. They take on the Carolina Panthers on Christmas Eve.

3. Green Bay Packers (6-8)

Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith (91) against the New England Patriots during their football game on Sunday, October 2, 2022 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. The Packers defeated the Patriots 27-24 in overtime.Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-WisconsinApc Pack Vs Patriots 26549 100222wag
  • Last week’s ranking: No. 3
  • Week 15 result: 24-12 win vs. Los Angeles Rams

They may need a lot of help to make the playoffs, but the Packers aren’t done just yet. They needed a win in the worst way and got it against the Los Angeles Rams to give themselves a fighting chance at the final playoff spot. The Packers offense looked better coming out of their bye week against a poor Rams defense, but still isn’t what it once was. Their defense, however, gave Los Angeles problems all night long and made sure Baker Mayfield couldn’t get comfortable.

The Packers have visions of making an improbable run at the postseason, but need to win the rest of their games and get some help to make that happen. That could all fall apart on Christmas day when they face the Miami Dolphins in South Florida.

4. Chicago Bears (3-11)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 18: Justin Fields #1 of the Chicago Bears directs his team during the first quarter in the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Soldier Field on December 18, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
  • Last week’s ranking: No. 4
  • Week 15 result: 25-20 loss vs. Philadelphia Eagles

The Chicago Bears came off their bye week to face arguably the best team in the league on Sunday when they welcomed in the Philadelphia Eagles. The result was predictable as Chicago dropped their seventh game in a row, but this was a competitive matchup that went down to the wire.

Justin Fields was once again electric and the defense came to life against the Eagles offense. They couldn’t hold them down forever though, as the Eagles jumped out to a big lead in the second half to secure a victory. For many Bears fans, that’s alright with them seeing as they’re once again in control of the second overall pick while having a stud at quarterback. They have another tough assignment this week against the Buffalo Bills in frigid and snowy conditions.

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