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Bears in playoff mix

The NFC playoff picture remains unfinished entering the final week of the regular season, and the Bears are happy to be in the middle of that mess.

The Bears beat the Arizona Cardinals, 28-13, on Sunday to improve to 9-6 on the season. In order for the Bears to make the playoffs, they will need to beat the Detroit Lions next week, and the Green Bay Packers will need to beat the Minnesota Vikings on the road.

Here is a look at the NFC playoff picture entering Week 17.

1. Atlanta Falcons (13-2)The Falcons have clinched the top overall seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.

2. Green Bay Packers (11-4) The Packers could clinch a first-round bye with a win against the Vikings next week.

3. San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1)The 49ers need to beat the Arizona Cardinals and have the Packers lose to clinch a bye.

4. Washington Redskins (9-6)The Redskins could clinch the NFC East in a winner-take-all game against Dallas.

5. Seattle Seahawks (10-5)The Seahawks have clinched a playoff spot. If they beat St. Louis and the 49ers lose to the Cardinals, they would win the NFC West.

6. Minnesota Vikings (9-6)Beat the Packers, and the Vikings clinch a playoff berth. If they lose to Green Bay, they could make the playoffs if the Bears, Cowboys and Giants all lose.

7. Chicago Bears (9-6)It's simple: a) The Bears need to beat Detroit; b) The Packers need to beat the Vikings.

8. Dallas Cowboys (8-7)In a winner-take all game against the Redskins, a win by the Cowboys would clinch the NFC East title.

9. New York Giants (8-7)The Giants need a lot of help. In addition to a win next week against Philadelphia, they need the Cowboys, Vikings and Bears all to lose.

Bears fans might want to keep their schedules clear Sunday. The Bears will visit the Lions for a noon CT kickoff, and the Packers will visit the Vikings for a 3:25 p.m. CT kickoff.

-Tom Musick

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