NFC North Stretch Run

The NFC North is quickly becoming the most competitive and well balanced division in football, and after the slew of games over Thanksgiving things are really going to be tight throughout the month of December starting on Thursday Night when the Packers travel to Ford Field in Detroit to take on the suddenly scorching Lions. The Lions have won three in a row following their bye, and on Thanksgiving they put up 45 points in a blowout win over the Eagles. To make things worse for the former division leaders, the Vikings promptly took full advantage in Atlanta defeating the Falcons 20-10 behind a huge day from Adrian Peterson (158 yards, 2 TD’s). The Vikings still don’t hold the tiebreaker, but another loss by the Packers and that Week 17 game in Lambeau will be meaningless if the Vikings can continue to hold serve for the next four weeks leading up to it.

The other big winner of the weekend after Minnesota was the Chicago Bears who defeated the Packers on Thanksgiving Night and now find themselves back in the NFC Playoff picture thanks to losses by the Bucs and Falcons. The Bears could’ve really been helped out had they seen Pittsburgh hold onto a lead in Seattle, but that didn’t happen and now they must continue to win in order to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Chicago again sits just one game outside of the five-hundred mark at 5-6 with another winnable game at home on Sunday in the form of Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers.

Chicago has gotten phenomenal production from the guys at their disposal, most notable are TE Zach Miller and Rookie RB Jeremy Langford. Matt Forte was back for the Thanksgiving game in Green Bay, but the Bears have been without their most potent threat in Alshon Jeffery who has been sidelined for most of the second half of the season. The Bears have been without their top pick all year in WR Kevin White who’s yet to suite up for Chicago.

The NFC North’s one of the best division in football and that’s tough to say because at the beginning of the year it looked like they’d only place one team in the playoffs, the divisional champion. Now conceivably the Packers, Vikings, and potentially Bears could all be playing in January. The Bears have a lot of work to do and would potentially have to finish no worse than 9-7 which leaves them room for only one more loss on the year, but with how weak the NFC East is it opens the door for the NFC North to have three of the four teams be playing past New Years.

Last weekend’s slate of games in the North for the most part wrapped up on Thursday Night as the Bears had a four down stand inside the ten against Rodgers and the Packers. The Lions crushed the Eagles in which Calvin Johnson became the all-time leader for touchdown receptions on Thanksgiving with three on the day, and on Sunday the Vikings had a relatively easy time with the Falcons on the road in a big conference game that’ll strengthen their record in the form of tiebreakers if they don’t win the division. This Thursday the Lions host the Pack, and on Sunday the Bears host the 49ers while¬†Minnesota could do wonders for Chicago if they can beat Seattle at home.