Mired in underperformance, the NFC North has become a logjam of football mediocrity. It's a division in which parity has gone awry. A three-way "tie for first" between three teams is not a tie for first at all. It's simply the result of lousy teams swapping wins against each other then pounding the pathetic Detroit Lions. It's a division so anemic that all any team needs to perch itself atop the standings is to win one more game than it loses. While not exactly the most impressive football being played in the NFL (not all teams can play in the NFC South), the North's lack of a dominant squad gives every single game significant playoff impact. After all, there's nothing wrong with being the best of the worst. As is the case when the Bears come to the Dome this week. A win would (shock!) put the Purple (now tied for first place at 6-5) two whole games above .500 and poise the team for a sustained playoff run in the final weeks of the season. Factor in a gimme win at Detroit in week 17 and finishing out the season against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, and a win over Chicago will be crucial for the Vikings' hopes to limp to the playoffs. $15-$135. 8:15 p.m. 900 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.338.4537.
Sun., Nov. 30, 8:15 p.m., 2008