Around the NFC North – Week 16

The Chicago Bears clinched the division, the Minnesota Vikings clung to life in their playoff hopes and the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions now battle for the cellar of the division.

Chicago Bears

With the chance to beat their most storied rivals and clinch the division with two games left to play on the season, the Bears welcomed the Green Bay Packers to Soldier Field and took care of business on their end by defeating the Packers 24-17.  The Bears got up on the Packers early in the game with touchdowns by running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen and they carried a 14-3 lead to halftime.  The Bears defense was able to seal the win in the end with a late interception of Aaron Rodgers in their own end zone to start the celebration in the Windy City.

In a game where total yards, time of possession and turnover were all equal, critical plays by the Bears defense sealed the win and the division for the Bears.  After four years in the cellar of the NFC North, the Bears climbed to the top of the division from out of nowhere and the win was certainly sweet for the team and their fans.

Now sitting at 10-4 on the season and with the division championship wrapped up, the Bears sit at the third overall seed in the NFC playoff picture with two games left to play.  The team sitting just one game ahead of them in second seed right now is the Los Angeles Rams.  With the Bears holding the head to head advantage because of their victory over the Rams this season, the Bears have plenty to play for over the final two weeks as they head to San Francisco this Sunday and then finish in Minnesota against the Vikings in the season finale.

Minnesota Vikings

In desperation mode for a much-needed win this past Sunday, the Vikings manhandled the Miami Dolphins at home to the tune of a 41-17 final score.  After the firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo the previous week, the Vikings offense came out swinging on the ground against Miami where the running back duo of Dalvin cook and Latavius Murray shouldered the load for the offense with 35 total carries for 204 yards and three touchdowns.  In the winning effort, quarterback Kirk Cousins only completed 14 passes against the hapless Miami defense.

On the other side of the ball, the Vikings defense stood stout against the Dolphins by only allowing one touchdown on a 75-yard from scrimmage on the first play of the second half.  Miami’s other touchdown in the game came via a pick-six of Kirk Cousins.

After losing their previous two games in disappointing fashion, the win against the Dolphins moved the Vikings to 7-6-1 on the season and put them in control of their own fate in the NFC playoff picture in the chase for the final wildcard spot.  With the Eagles and Redskins sitting at 7-7 and hot on their heels, the Vikings can’t afford to slip up in the final two weeks of the season as they travel to Detroit this Sunday to take on the Lions and then finish at home against the Chicago Bears.

Detroit Lions

The Lions continued their mystery season of underperforming against poor opponents this past Sunday when they fell to the Buffalo Bills 14-13 on the road in New York.  The loss dropped the Lions to 5-9 on the season and guaranteed the team its first losing season since the 2015 season.

In the loss, the Lions left plenty of opportunities on the table.  On special teams, the Lions missed the extra point attempt on their first touchdown and a key missed field goal with just under six minutes to play in the game kept them behind the Bills by one point.  The Lions offense just couldn’t get rolling in the game after taking an early 13-7 lead in the second quarter.  The offense came out from halftime lifeless and proceeded to punt five times and miss a field goal in the second half. 

Lions head coach Matt Patricia was left fuming after the loss, where he called himself and the team out for their execution on the field.  To make matters worse, Patricia dropped an expletive over the radio airwaves with the team’s broadcast partner when discussing the team’s need to get back to work the following day.  Looking to try and salvage some pride over the final two weeks, the Lions finish against their NFC North rivals the Minnesota Vikings at home and the Green Bay Packers on the road in the season finale.

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Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Comments (2)

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CheesyTex's picture

December 19, 2018 at 02:36 pm

Lions and Packers locked in fierce struggle for higher position in 2019 draft.

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PatrickGB's picture

December 20, 2018 at 05:49 pm

Chessytex, sadly that’s the way it looks. But I doubt that we are actually trying to be in last place in the north. As a joke I wondered if a zero to zero tie would occur when we play the last game of the year.

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