Around the NFC North

A look around the NFC North the including defending champion Green Bay Packers and their rivals the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.

Chicago Bears:  The Bears barely beat a very banged-up and mistake-prone Chargers team 22 - 19, winning for the third time this season.  The coaching staff of John Fox and Offensive Coordinator Adam Gase have seemed as though they have finally harnessed the considerable talent of quarterback Jay Cutler – he is making far fewer errors and playing within the system.

Speaking of Cutler, Monday night’s game saw him surpass the team record for career touchdown passes recorded by former Bears great Sid Luckman.  The record has stood since 1943.

The Bears are becoming used to close games.  Monday night’s game was the fifth in a row settled by 3 points or less with the game winning score made within the last 3:30.   The Bears have a record of 3 -2 in those five matches.

The Bears are 7.5 point underdogs this week in St. Louis.

Last Week:  Won in San Diego

This Week:   At St. Louis Rams

Season Record:  3 - 5

Place in NFC North:  Third

Detroit Lions:   The Lions are playing abysmal football this year.  The latest was a stinker in London setting back the NFL brand in Europe for years to come with their latest feeble ‘effort’.

Saying the Detroit fans deserve better football (don’t we all) team owner Martha Firestone Ford continued the house-cleaning during the bye week by firing their team president and general manager Martin Mayhew.  Mayhew a protégé of former GM Matt Millen had the Lions in the playoffs as recently as 2011 and 2014 where the team notched an 11 – 5 record and secured a playoff berth.

Interestingly enough one of the hottest names on Twitter-world to replace Mayhew was the Packers own Eliot Wolf.  Wolf is currently the Packers Director of Player Personnel and the number-two man to Ted Thompson. Wolf was promoted to his current position just one year ago. 

The 33-year old Wolf, son of HOF’er Ron Wolf, would have to be considered a long-shot considering his ties to Green Bay.  It would appear the Wolf could be the heir-apparent when Thompson decides to step-aside.  Yet the speculation continues that Wolf would like to carve his own niche without the burden of having the immense accomplishments of Thompson and his father hanging over his head.  

Wolf’s name has popped up before.  Most recently when Howie Roseman was re-assigned in Philadelphia and the Eagles were seeking a de facto GM (Chip Kelly retains power as head coach and ultimate authority for player moves).  The Packers were said to have refused the request.  Don’t bet on Wolf leaving Green Bay any time soon.

Last Week:   Bye Week

This Week:   At Green Bay

Season Record:    1- 7

Place in NFC North:   Fourth (last)

Minnesota Vikings:   The Vikings won in OT on Sunday by a score of 21 -18. The win was their fourth straight and propelled the Vikings into a tie for first place with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North.

The big news in Viking-land is the injury to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.  Bridgewater was knocked unconscious while sliding during Sunday’s game against the Rams.  Rams DB Lamarcus Joyner will certainly be receiving a hefty fine for the late hit.  Bridgewater is going through the league-mandated concussion-protocol and is said to have passed the first stage.

The Vikings are 3-point underdogs in Oakland this week, but many gaming establishments have suspended the betting until it is determined if Bridgewater will be playing.

Last Week:  Defeated Rams at home

This Week:   At Oakland

Season Record:   6 - 2

Place in NFC North:   Tied for First

Green Bay Packers:   What’s wrong with the Packers?  If you are looking for a shorter response you might ask what is going right for the team?

First what is going right. 

For all their recent futility the Packers are 6 -2 and still in first place in the NFC North.  The special teams play this year is not awful.  And let’s not forget this one:  they come home after a brutal 2-game road trip to the friendly confines of Lambeau Field to face the down-trodden Detroit Lions.  The Lions have not beaten the Packers in Wisconsin since 1991 – 23 years of futility certainly about to become 24. If ever there was a golden opportunity to get back on the winning track the recipe is being cooked up in Green Bay this week.

As for what is wrong, the list is painfully long.

On the offense the line cannot open holes for the running back or protect the quarterback.  The quarterback is missing some easy throws and holding the ball too long.  The receivers cannot seem to get open and the featured running back is so ineffective that his backup is earning more playing time than he is.  The long ball is a forgotten concept and the tight end is MIA.

The defense cannot mount a pass rush, and while the rushing defense is at times respectable, they cannot stop crucial short yardage gains by their opponents.  The defensive backs blow assignments and each and every game opponent receivers seem to roam the field uncovered.  They give up yards in huge chunks and never seem to able to close the deal.

Perhaps even more disturbing and responsible for their recent woes is that their star players are not making plays.  Rodgers, Lacy, Cobb, Sitton, Matthews, Peppers, Shields and Raji to name a few are not carrying the team as they have in the past.  We could go on, but why?

The Packers next four games will go a long way toward deciding the success of their season.  They play the Lions at home, the Vikings on the road, the Bears at home (Thanksgiving) and the Lions in Detroit.  All very winnable games providing they play up to their capabilities. 

The $64,000 question:  is this team just stumbling through a couple of bad games or were the Packers over-rated to begin with and not really all they were cracked up to be? 

Answers begin to emerge on Sunday against an opponent that they should throttle.

The Packers are 11.5 point favorites to defeat the Lions this week at Lambeau Field.

Last Week:   Lost at Carolina       

This Week:   Home vs. Detroit Lions

Season Record:    6 - 2

Place in NFC North:    Tied for First

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Comments (7)

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sheppercheeser's picture

November 11, 2015 at 06:46 am

The Packers playing the Lions is such a no-win situation. GB should absolutely annihilate Detroit and if they do, so what? They beat one of the worst teams in the NFL and if they lose? OMG- the Packers would never live it down. I think the Minnesota game will be very telling.

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NickPerry's picture

November 11, 2015 at 07:28 am

The thing about streaks is they always end at some point. If the streak ended this week it would be the absolute beginning of the end of the 2015 Packers, BUT that's not going to happen! The Packers NEED to "Annihilate" Detroit this weekend and they need to shut them down Defensively. This team needs a boost heading into Minnesota next weekend no matter who the opponet is.

Also a well placed R-E-L-A-X or something by our fearless leader might be a good idea about now.

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Dan Stodola's picture

November 11, 2015 at 08:20 am

Ask and you shall receive...

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sheppercheeser's picture

November 11, 2015 at 06:50 am

....and wow, the Vikings game against the up and coming Raiders will be a big game for MN, Oakland and GB!

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 11, 2015 at 07:07 am

One thing that has been consistent for about the last several weeks - #12 has created a lot of yards off of the free play. It helped cover over a struggling offense. You didn't get that at Denver or Carolina and you can't expect to get that on the road against any team whose fan base cares. Returning to Lambeau against a bad Lions team should allow #12 to create a couple of those plays again.

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EdsLaces's picture

November 11, 2015 at 09:39 am

We should dominate ..but we wont. One score game.

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keeley2's picture

November 11, 2015 at 01:43 pm

So if Bridgewater plays this weekend, does that mean that Oakland will be favored by more points?

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