Nov 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) catches a pass against Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33) during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Lions Take Over Division Lead After Crazy Day In NFC North


What did we learn after another crazy week in the NFC North? Quarterback quarterback quarterback, it’s all about the quarterback.

The Vikings won thanks to a career-best effort from Christian Ponder (up until he left the game with a separated shoulder).

The Bears lost because they elected to go with an injured Jay Cutler over a healthy Josh McCown.

The Packers lost because they were forced to go with backups in place of their superstar Aaron Rodgers.

The Lions now lead the NFC North in large part because they are the only team in the division that has started the same quarterback every week.

If you pay attention to the NFL at all, you will not be surprised that the one division team with a stable QB situation happens to be the team currently sitting in first place. The question is, can the Lions hold on to their tenuous one-game lead over the Packers and Bears?

Actually it’s a two-game lead over the Bears, as the Lions have now beaten Chicago twice. The next big key division game comes Thanksgiving when Detroit plays the Packers. Will Aaron Rodgers be back in time for that pivotal match up?

And what about the Bears now? They looked in pretty good shape after their defeat of the Packers, but Marc Trestman’s decision to let a hobbled Jay Cutler start against Detroit was clearly the wrong move, and now the Bears are in a bad spot a game back and with two defeats at the hands of Detroit.

I think the Bears are still in decent shape to make the playoffs though. Josh McCown has proven he can win. The Bears can wait until Jay Cutler is fully healthy, and if he doesn’t become fully healthy, I still think McCown can lead them to a 10-6 record.

The Packers backup QB situation is a lot more uncertain. Seneca Wallace went out early in Sunday’s game against Philadelphia, giving way to Scott Tolzien, who was on the practice squad just a week ago. The former Badger Tolzien did okay at times but turned the ball over too much, and Nick Foles and Philly just had too much for a banged-up Packer defense.

Injuries continue to mount for the Packers, who lost a pair of offensive linemen on Sunday and also CB Casey Hayward. And Johnny Jolly and Nick Perry went down during the game too. The Packers at this point are having a problem just finding healthy bodies to put on the field. We know Ted Thompson is brilliant at building depth, but even the Packers’ talent well has a bottom.

I still think the Packers will be okay once Rodgers comes back; the problem will be surviving this stretch of games without Rodgers. The Packers next face the Giants and then host the Vikings. Those games look winnable, but with all the injuries and an inexperienced guy starting at quarterback, who really knows.

The Vikes will have a chance in two weeks to march into Lambeau Field and play spoiler. If the Packers should somehow happen to lose to New York next week, that game in two weeks might become vital to their continuing playoff hopes.

So there’s something to root for (besides losses that help draft positioning): the chance to deal the Packers’ playoff hopes a severe blow going into the home stretch of the season. At 2-7, there isn’t much left for the Vikings but to embrace the spoiler role. That’s not hard when the team you’re trying to spoil things for happens to be your most hated rival.

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