Good morning and welcome to the dramatic conclusion of our Wild Week 17! The day will take place in at least two and maybe three acts, depending on whether we need to wait until the conclusion of Sunday night's game at FedEx Field to determine our final postseason arrangement.
Before things get too wild, let's re-establish our playoff scenarios in as close to chronological order as I can get it.
The first game on our docket is the Chicago Bears' trip to visit the Detroit Lions, a 1 p.m. ET kickoff. The Bears need two things to happen to clinch a playoff berth. First, they need to beat the Lions. If the Bears lose, they are eliminated from contention.
If the Bears win, they will have to wait until the conclusion of the Green Bay Packers' game at the Minnesota Vikings -- a 4:25 p.m. ET kickoff -- to find out if they will get a playoff berth. The Bears must root for the Packers (!) to beat the Vikings in order to clinch a wild-card spot. If the Vikings win, they will clinch a playoff berth and the Bears will be eliminated.
If the Packers win, they will clinch the No. 2 seed -- and a first-round bye -- in the NFC playoff bracket. And in that case, it's possible we'll need to wait until late Sunday night to determine the Vikings' fate.
In all likelihood, the Vikings will know before they kick off whether a loss will eliminate them from playoff contention. That will hinge on two games that should be over by then. If the Lions beat the Bears, and the Philadelphia Eagles defeat the New York Giants, the Vikings would have a path to the playoffs even if they lose to the Packers. If those three games finish that way, the Vikings could advance with a 9-7 record if the Washington Redskins defeat the Dallas Cowboys in the night game.
Otherwise, the Vikings would be eliminated by a loss to the Packers and our day will be over the moment the final whistle blows at the Metrodome.
That's about as simple as I can make it. I'll update these scenarios on the blog before kickoff at the Metrodome -- a mere eight hours and 25 minutes from now!