NFC North Breakdown: Week 15


(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 Vikings were gasoline and the Cardinals were Harvey Dent’s face.  The Bears kept pace, with help from the refs, against New Orleans.  The Packers and Lions cemented their also-ran status with losses.

Chicago Bears (8-6):

Looking Back: Needed help from the officials to beat the Saints in overtime.  You take ‘em however you can get ‘em, especially in a playoff race, but it has to bother Chicago a little that they couldn’t get much offense going against a generally weak defense.  It didn’t help that Kyle Orton turned the ball over three times.  One superstar who did show up?  Brian Urlacher.  And Danieal Manning who has taken over from Devin Hester as the special teams stud.

Looking Forward:  The Bears are one loss or one Vikings win away from elimination in the NFC North race.  We all know they ain’t gonna get a Wild Card slot, so that means this Monday’s game against the Packers is, well, a must-win.  The Packers have looked DOA the last few weeks but should be able to rouse some enthusiasm for a spoiler game against their ancient rivals.  It should be about 900 below in Chicago with a possible blizzard.  And if that doesn’t seem enough like the end of the world, imagine the Bears getting knocked from the post season by the Cheesebrains.

Detroit Lions (0-14):

Looking Back: No one thought they had a chance against the Colts.  Funny, but with a little under 13 minutes left in the game, they were tied with Indianapolis at 21.  The Colts, never ones to sweat, scored 10 unanswered the rest of the way and preserved victory.  Still, it was quite a performance for a Detroit team that looked utterly whipped on Turkey Day.  I see no reason why Dan Orlovsky should not be anointed the QB of the future for this club.  He looked good before he got hurt and he still looks good.  Let Daunte pursue his real dream – fast food product tester.

Looking Forward: These last two games are both possible wins for Detroit.  That’s not a joke.  They play the Saints next – and they just got knocked from the playoff hunt and are going to be about as inspired as a George W. Bush advisor.  And after that the Packers who appear to be more interested in making off-season travel arrangements than preparing for football games.  It would not shock me to see Detroit finish 2-14.  Why not?  They have much more on the line – not being the only winless team in history – than either club they will be facing.

Green Bay Packers (5-9):

Looking Back:  The Crashed Would-Be Playoff Contender Bowl went to the Jaguars, who have nonetheless begun the process of shedding coaches.  What about the Packers?  Is Mike McCarthy’s job in jeopardy?  It shouldn’t be.  Dude got them to the NFC Championship Game last year and was then ambushed by that drama-queen former quarterback of theirs.  Not McCarthy’s fault Favre stabbed them in the back.  Not his fault the defense melted down – probably.  The team just seems emotionally rudderless without Favre.  He apparently meant more to them than just gunslinger quarterback play.  They need to find a new heart-and-soul and I just don’t think Aaron Rodgers is it.

Looking Forward:  They’ve got two good reasons to show up against the Bears:  One, it’s the Bears.  Two, they have a chance to make the whole city of Chicago miserable until at least baseball season when the Cubs can take over.  Actually, there’s a third reason too:  Not finishing the year with six straight losses.  How about some pride, Green and Gold?

Minnesota Vikings (9-5):

Looking Back:  Beat the Cardinals – and by “beat” I mean “stomped.”  They are playing as well as anyone in the NFC right now.  Just ask Kurt Warner how good the defensive line is with Jared Allen wreaking havoc.  And now they have Tarvaris Jackson playing like a real quarterback.  4 touchdown passes?  In one game?  Without a pick?  Gus Frerotte might as well get used to his spot on the sideline.

Looking Forward:  One more win clinches them the division and gets Brad Childress into the playoffs, saving his job.  They host the Falcons next, in what will be hyped as a showdown of the NFC’s two best running backs, Adrian Peterson and Michael Turner (sorry Portis).  Matt Ryan has had a nice year but that could come to a screeching halt if those pass rushers start getting all up in his grill. Who thought, at the start of the year, that the Week 16 Vikings-Falcons game would matter this much?  No one.