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NFL schedule 2012: Vikings have week off before schedule gets tough

If things go right for the Minnesota Vikings this week even while they're off, they could be within a game of first place in the NFC North standings.

Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIRE

The Minnesota Vikings have the week off to rest following their 34-24 victory over the Detroit Lions last Sunday, but they've been given few favors on the rest of their schedule. Things kick off immediately following the bye with back-to-back road games in Chicago and Green Bay, which could be either a blessing or a curse.

Considering that the Vikings have a 6-4 record at this point, they're still realistically in striking distance of winning the NFC North if they can end the season on a roll. With two remaining games apiece against the Packers and Bears, Minnesota at least has the opportunity to make some serious noise over the next couple months.

Elsewhere this week, the Bears are visiting the San Francisco 49ers for a Monday night game at Candlestick, while the Packers are taking on the Lions in a divisional match-up. If the Bears lose in San Francisco, the Vikings would be within one game of first place in the NFC North standings entering next week's game at Soldier Field.

Photographs by Micah Taylor, clairity, and Fibonacci Blue used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.