North Report

Enough already.<p> With the Packers enjoying a four-game lead in the NFC North Division heading into this weekend's games, there were some things more important than another loss from the Bears and Vikings. But that's what they got, as the Eagles beat the Bears 19-13 in rainy Champaign, Ill.<P>

Philly improved to 6-2, joining the Packers in the battle for NFC playoff position as the season reaches the half-way point.

The Eagles sealed the close game when Hugh Douglas sacked Jim Miller on third down from the Eagles' 24 with 17 seconds remaining. The Bears did not have a timeout left to stop the clock for one last desperation play.

"They kept us off-balance for the whole first half. We just had to calm down,'' Philly's Hugh Douglas said. "We played two quarters of defensive football. The first two quarters weren't very good, but we came together.''

Likewise, former divisional rival Tampa Bay returned to beat up on the Minnesota Vikings 38-24, relegating the Vikes to a 2-6 record and a tie with Chicago for last place in the North.

Only the Lions prevailed, tipping the erratic Cowboys 9-7. That means that Detroit, now second place in the NFCN, is 3.5 games behind the Packers heading into tonight's contest, with one GB win over Detroit already in the books.

San Francisco's 23-20 overtime win over the Oakland Raiders kept the Niners on the Packers' trail in the race for home field advantage in the playoffs.

In the big picture -- for bragging rights if nothing else -- San Diego's loss knocked them from the ranks of the best record in the league. If the Packers win tonight, they'll have that honor all alone.

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