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Bears clinch first-round bye as playoff picture takes shape

Associated Press

Chicago clinched the NFC North and a first-round bye Sunday by holding on to beat Green Bay 24-17 in the first start of the season for Rex Grossman.

The New York Giants (10-5) also secured a playoff berth when the Vikings (8-7) were eliminated with a 30-23 loss to Baltimore in the night game.

Grossman, who broke his ankle in a preseason game Aug. 12, came on in relief last week against Atlanta. On Sunday, he threw one touchdown pass and guided a resurgent offense as the Bears (11-4) won their first division title since 2001 and their second since 1990. They held their breath at the end as Brett Favre tried to rally the Packers, but came up just short.

Seattle (13-2) already has home-field advantage throughout the playoffs in the NFC.

The rest of the playoff picture:

In the AFC, Indianapolis (13-2) has the AFC South title and home-field advantage, while Denver (12-3) has clinched the AFC West and a first-round bye. Jacksonville (11-4) is in the playoffs as a wild card, and Pittsburgh (10-5) can clinch the final wild-card spot with a win over Detroit at home next week. Kansas City (9-6) is still alive but needs help. The Patriots (9-5), in as the AFC East champions, play the New York Jets on Monday night.

In the NFC, the Giants can win the NFC East with a victory Saturday at Oakland. The Redskins (9-6) can make the playoffs as a wild card if they win their finale in Philadelphia next week. They can win the East if they win and the Giants lose.

Tampa Bay (10-5) can win the NFC South with a victory over New Orleans next week. Carolina (10-5) would clinch a playoff berth with a win in Atlanta. The Panthers would win the division with a victory and a Bucs loss. Dallas (9-6) is still alive but needs help.

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