NFC North Breakdown: Week 16


(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 fumbled away a chance to claim the division title.  The Bears-Packers showdown turned into a nailbiter.  And the Lions moved one step closer to the making wrongest kind of history you can imagine.

Chicago Bears (9-6):

Looking Back:  It looked like their chances at staying in the division race were going to end at home in the bitter cold.  But a solid Devin Hester return – haven’t been many of those lately – set up a late game-tying drive capped by a Matt Forte touchdown run.  Alex Brown then blocked Mason Crosby’s field goal attempt with 25 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.  One Robbie Gould field goal later and the Bears were alive for another week.

Looking Forward:  The Bears still need help.  The Vikings have to lose at home to the Giants and Chicago has to take care of business in Houston against the frisky Texans.  At least they’ll be cozy and warm in Houston.  Even if you back into the playoffs, you’re still in the playoffs.

Detroit Lions (0-15):

Looking Back:  Just when you think they’re starting to show signs of not being the worst team in history…they remind you that they are probably the worst team in history.  That drubbing by the Saints probably knocked the last of the starch out of them, making 0-16 as inevitable as another Amy Winehouse meltdown.  How bad has it gotten for the Lions?  Rod Marinelli is getting in public pissing matches with reporters.  You’d probably be mad too if someone accused you of nepotism (Rod’s son-in-law is the defensive coordinator).

Looking Forward:  The Lions season ends, mercifully, in one week against the Packers.  Two possible scenarios present themselves, based on how the season has gone so far:  One, the Lions play their hearts out and barely lose.  Two, the Lions fall flat and get destroyed.  A third scenario, the Lions win, seems as distant a possibility as Paris Hilton securing a Rhodes Scholarship.  There will then be a standard for futility that can never be bested – unless the NFL decides to expand their schedule, something I would be against with every fiber of my being were I the Lions (who wants to go 0-17 for God’s sake).

Green Bay Packers (5-10):

Looking Back:  Had a chance to spoil the Bears’ playoff hopes in Chicago and looked like they were going to do it.  But, as has been the case for this team most of the year, they couldn’t seal the deal.  Just one more frustration for a club that has had arguably the most tumultuous year of any team not named the Cowboys.  When it came right down to it, they just couldn’t stop anybody.

Looking Forward:  All that remains for Green Bay is to not become a historical footnote against the Lions.  The game is at Lambeau which may once have meant something but possibly doesn’t anymore.  I’m sure Packer pride still means something to the guys wearing that uniform, so they should give a solid effort.  Unless they’ve already packed it in emotionally which, frankly, they seemed to do back around Week 11.

Minnesota Vikings (9-6):

Looking Back:  The Vikings played a really good game at home against the playoff bound Falcons – unfortunately, they sprinkled in 4 lost fumbles, ruining their recipe for success.  Adrian Peterson was responsible for two of said lost fumbles and one more he managed to recover.  AD’s problems holding onto the ball have become a major sticking point for Vikings fans, who seem lukewarm in their support of the team despite everything that’s on the line.  The defense still looked solid even without Pat Williams.

Looking Forward:  They’re still in command.  All they have to do is take care of the Giants at the Metrodome.  Their recent history against Eli Manning and the gang has actually been quite favorable.  Unfortunately, they will have to try to slow down Derrick Ward – who just popped for 215 against Carolina – without half the Williams Wall.  And now Adrian Peterson looks shaky.  And who knows how Tarvaris Jackson will react under this kind of pressure.  He’s never faced anything like it in his entire life.