Heading into Week 16 of the NFL season, the Chicago Bears needed a string of games to work out in their favor just to keep their flickering playoff hopes alive.
So far, so good.
The Bears, who play host to Green Bay tonight, needed Minnesota, Dallas, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay to lose in order to stay in the running for the NFC North title and for the last wild-card spot. All four of those teams lost.
Their path to the postseason is still complex. If the Bears win their final two games -- they finish at Houston -- and the Vikings lose Sunday to the Giants, Chicago wins the division.
Chicago will win the final NFC wild-card berth if it wins out, and both Tampa Bay and Dallas lose their finales.
No matter what's at stake, though, every Bears-Packers game is packed with emotion -- and surely Green Bay would like to squelch the playoff plans of a bitter division rival.
The Packers were dominant in the teams' last meeting, putting a 37-3 pounding on the Bears on Nov. 16. In that game, Green Bay scored 30 consecutive points and ran for 200 yards.
Since that blowout, however, Green Bay has lost four in a row, and Chicago has won three of four.
"It's important every week to stop the run, but this is Green Bay," Bears nose tackle Anthony Adams told the Chicago Tribune last week. "You have to check your pulse if you're not up for this game.
"Playoffs or not, this is Green Bay. I think the attitude that everybody has to take into this game is that it's not going to happen this time."