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Minnesota sports, as seen elsewhere

Title hopes? Vikings have North's easiest schedule in final weeks

Detroit advanced its lead in the NFC North to two games and Green Bay improved to 6-6 Sunday. The Vikings dropped to 6-6 after Thursday’s loss to Dallas.

The race for the division championship will leave little room for error in the final four weeks of the regular season.

The Vikings and Packers will most likely have to win their final four games and the division to claim a playoff berth. The Lions have a difficult final stretch, but own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Vikings. Detroit lost its first meeting with Green Bay and they won't meet again until the season finale.

The Vikings have 1-in-3 odds of making the playoffs and 1-in-6 odds of winning the division according to, arguing the likely path to the postseason would be through the wild card. The Lions are currently the No. 3 seed in the NFC, the Vikings are No. 8 and the Packers No. 9. 

Here is a look at the three team’s remaining schedules:

The Vikings arguably have the least-difficult schedule of the three teams.

Away: Jacksonville, Dec. 11, noon
The Jaguars are 2-10 and the second-worst team in the AFC. They have lost seven straight games.

Home: Indianapolis, Dec. 18, noon
The Colts are 5-6, but won two of their last three games.

Away: Green Bay, Dec. 24, noon
The Packers have won their last two games to put themselves back in the race for a postseason berth.

Home: Chicago, Jan. 1, noon
The Bears are one of the worst teams in the league, but have wins against the Lions and Vikings.

Vote here: How many of their final four games will the Vikings win?

The Lions have the toughest remaining schedule of the three NFC North contenders.

Home: Chicago, Dec. 11, noon
The Bears’ first win, and only one of three this season, was against the Lions.

Away: New York Giants, Dec. 18, noon
The Giants are 8-4 and in the playoff hunt, however, two of their four losses have come against the NFC North.

Away: Dallas, Dec. 26, 7:30 p.m.
The Cowboys are 11-1 and the best team in the NFL.

Home: Green Bay, Jan. 1, noon
The Packers are 2-1 in the division and already have a win against the Lions.

Green Bay
The Packers will have to get past all three division rivals if they hope to rally for the NFC North title.

Home: Seattle, Dec. 11, 3:25 p.m.
The Seahawks are 8-3-1 and have won four of their last five games. They have yet to face an NFC North opponent this season.

Away: Chicago, Dec. 18, noon
The Bears will try to play the upset role in the NFC North in the final month of the season. Though they are 3-9 overall, they are 2-1 in the division.

Home: Vikings, Dec. 24, noon
The Vikings beat the Packers in primetime on Monday Night Football in Week 2, but the stakes will be much higher for the rematch.

Away: Detroit, Jan. 1 noon
The Lions will look to avenge an early loss to Green Bay with potentially a division title and playoff berth on the line. 

Six Minnesotans, two Wild draft picks on Team USA junior roster

Six Minnesotans, including Gophers defenseman Ryan Lindgren, are on the preliminary 27-player roster for the U.S. national junior team, which will play in the world championships Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Toronto and Montreal.

The team will be pared to 23 players by Christmas Eve.

Other Minnesotans on the team are Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger (Lakeville); defenseman Jack Ahcan (Savage) of St. Cloud State; and forwards Joey Anderson (Roseville) of UMD, Brock Boeser (Burnsville) of North Dakota and Kieffer Bellows (Edina) of Boston University.

The Wild’s first-round draft pick in 2016, Wisconsin center Luke Kunin, is also on the preliminary team. Boston University has seven players on the roster including the Wild’s second round pick in 2015, Jordan Greenway.

Bob Motzko of St. Cloud State is the coach.

The 27-player roster is here.

•â€¯The Big Ten suspended Lindgren one game for elbowing Ohio State’s Sam McCormick in the closing minutes of the Gophers’ 8-3 loss Saturday. Lindgren will have to sit out Friday night’s game at Michigan State.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

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  • NJIT at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • San Antonio at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, NBATV, 830-AM

  • Gophers women's basketball at New Mexico

    8 pm on 88.5-FM

  • Wild at Toronto

    6:30 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Toronto

    6 pm on TNT, 830-AM

  • Army at Gophers women's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    5:30 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    6 pm

  • Edmonton at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Detroit at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Georgia Southern at Gophers men's basketball

    8 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Boston U.

    2 pm

  • Gophers men's hockey at Michigan State

    7 pm on BTN, 1500-AM

  • Vikings at Jacksonville

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Gophers women's basketball at South Carolina

    2 pm on SECN, 88.5-FM

  • Northern Illinois at Gophers men's basketball

    4 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Louis at Wild

    5 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

  • Golden State at Timberwolves

    6 pm on FSN, 830-AM

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