NFC North Breakdown: Week 12

(Dan Zinski writes for The Viking Age, which is FSB’s Minnesota Vikings blog. Representing the rest of the NFC North are Bear Goggles On, Lombardi Ave. and SideLion Report.)

The Vikes and Bears took care of business but the Packers didn’t.  That leaves Chicago and Minnesota each with a chance to take charge, and Green Bay having to scramble.  Of course, the most compelling story in the division is the other team – the one that still hasn’t won a single game.

Chicago Bears (6-5):

Looking Back:  Annihilated a Rams team that would seem to have packed it in for the season.  Hard to read anything into the performance (it was the Rams), but Kyle Orton had a good game bouncing back from his injury and Matt Forte put up 132 yards and 2 TDs.  Chicago folks are cheesed about Devin Hester’s lack of punt return pizzazz this year but it hardly matters if the offense is clicking.

Looking Forward: Big-time division showdown in the Metrodome against the Vikes.  Sole possession of first will be on the line.  The Bears gave up 41 to the Vikes at Soldier Field earlier this year but scored 44 themselves, capitalizing on a plethora of Vikings gaffes.  Chicago stuffed the Titans’ running game a couple weeks back but they also know what it’s like to be eviscerated by Adrian Peterson.  The potential wild card is the status of the Williams Wall.  If those guys are suspended, Matt Forte should have a field day.  If they play, the Bears will need Orton to find the holes in the Vikings’ zones.

Detroit Lions (0-11):

Looking Back:  They got up 17 in the first quarter on the Bucs – and then watched Tampa outscore them 38-3 the rest of the way.  Their defense is just not capable of slowing anyone down.  Daunte Culpepper is just not the answer at quarterback.  I don’t know what the answers are for the Lions.  They keep scrapping but it’s all for naught.

Looking Forward:  What could be better for an 0-11 team than to host a 10-1 team on short rest?  Yes, the Titans are coming to town, smarting from a big loss to the Jets.  Detroit fans are so stoked for this Thanksgiving showdown that they haven’t even bought up all the tickets at Ford Field yet.  The league is looking for an excuse to take the Turkey Day game away from Detroit, and the Lions are handing them several.  Then again, miracles do happen, right?  Oh wait…that’s Christmas.

Green Bay Packers (5-6):

Looking Back:  Went into New Orleans looking for a defining road win and instead got destroyed by Drew Brees, who put up four TDs on the alleged best pass defense in the league.  Green Bay was trying to establish big momentum coming off that pasting of the Bears…but momentum has eluded them all season, so why should now be any different?  This team has too much talent to be 5-6 and a game out in the division at this late date.  Things are starting to get a little desperate.

Looking Forward:  Next up – a Carolina team that was riding high until the Falcons rained on their parade.  The Packers have won their last two home games convincingly over good teams (Indy and Chicago).  They need to make Lambeau a house of horrors for their opponents if they’re going to get separation in the NFC North.  Their schedule after this is relatively soft, with a road trip to Soldier Field looming large Week 16.

Minnesota Vikings (6-5):

Looking Back:  The gang that couldn’t shoot straight met a gang that shoots even less straight in Jacksonville.  The result:  A 30-12 win that only looked like a blow-out on the scoreboard.  Brad Childress had to sit Adrian Peterson for disciplinary reasons, and the Vikes scored 14 points before he got in the game.  That’s when you know luck is on your side.  Gus Frerotte looked terrible again but the fans still don’t want Tarvaris Jackson back.

Looking Forward: After all the craziness and trouble, the Vikes have a shot at taking over first place, at home, with four games left in the season.  If K-Will and Fat Pat are suspended though?  Kiss the playoffs goodbye.  Have you looked at that schedule down the stretch?  At the Lions (okay, no prob), then at Arizona, and home against the Falcons and Giants.  They better hope they don’t need that last game against New York – or hope the Giants have clinched everything and rest their starters.  It doesn’t help that Adrian Peterson has been acting rebellious.  Does he want Chilly out?  The soap opera continues…

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