Week 14 NFC North predictions: Lions look to bury Bears, Packers and Vikings try to keep playoff hopes alive

Yardbarker

A lot could be decided in the NFC North this week, with the division-leading Detroit Lions looking to bury the Chicago Bears. In contrast, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers look to keep their playoff hopes alive with victories on the road. Here are the NFC North predictions for Week 13: 

Detroit Lions (9-3) at Chicago Bears (4-8): The Lions enter their Week 14 matchup against the Bears at Soldier Field as 3.5-point favorites, per oddschecker. While that slim line may surprise some, the Lions’ play as of late has understandably created doubt over what kind of team they are, even with a 9-3 record. Furthermore, the Lions needed a 17-point fourth quarter to sneak by the Bears, 31-26, in their first meeting three weeks ago. 

Despite winning three of four games since their bye week, the Lions haven’t played their best recently, including a shaky 33-28 win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 13. Meanwhile, the Bears have won two of their last three and may be on the rise. 

The Lions have a clear edge on offense and are coming off only their fourth turnover-less game of the season. However, the Bears defense will provide a test for QB Jared Goff and company, having forced eight turnovers over the past two weeks. 

With snowy conditions expected in Chicago on Sunday and an opportunistic defense in front of them, this has trap game written all over it for the Lions. 

PREDICTION: Bears, 28-27 

Minnesota Vikings (6-6) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-7): Coming off their bye, the Vikings enter Week 14 facing a must-win game against the Raiders. While there was uncertainty over who would take snaps as the starting QB, the Vikings are sticking with Josh Dobbs in a decision that could make or break the team’s season. 

After starting 2-0 with the Vikings, Dobbs has come back to earth in losses to the Denver Broncos and Bears. Dobbs recorded three touchdowns with no turnovers in his first two starts but has thrown only two TDs with five interceptions and a fumble lost over his last two games. However, he will have electric wideout Justin Jefferson to throw to, with the All-Pro set to return to action after missing seven games with a hamstring injury. 

Once Antonio Pierce took over as interim head coach, the Raiders found success against New York Giants QB Tommy DeVito and New York Jets’ Zach Wilson before being predictably picked apart by Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and Patrick Mahomes in back-to-back weeks. No one is putting Dobbs in the category of Tagovailoa or Mahomes, but he has a decent opportunity to bounce back, especially with Jefferson in tow.

PREDICTION: Vikings, 28-20 

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at New York Giants (4-8): Riding the emergence of QB Jordan Love, the Packers have won three straight games and are suddenly very much in the NFC playoff hunt heading into a “Monday Night Football” showdown with the suddenly streaking Giants, who’ve won two in a row. 

Love has been on fire during the Packers’ win streak, completing 68 percent of his passes for 857 yards (7.9 YPA) with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions. While Love could succeed against the Giants’ 20th-ranked pass defense, the Packers could also expose them with their new-found run game. After averaging only 88.4 rushing yards through the first five weeks of the season, the Packers have averaged 128 yards over their last five games. 

Meanwhile, the Giants have allowed 120 or more rushing yards 10 times this season. They’ve given up an average of 163 yards in their last three games, coming against the Dallas Cowboys, who boast the 11th-best rushing attack in the NFL and two teams near the bottom in the Washington Commanders (23rd) and New England Patriots (21st). 

The Packers defense is also playing better as of late, allowing only 17 points a game over the last five games. If that unit can control Giants RB Saquon Barkley, who’s still dangerous, and force DeVito to beat them, they’ll have more than a decent shot at walking out of MetLife Stadium above .500. 

PREDICTION: Packers, 31-16 

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