NFC North Week 11 Review

Yesterday in the NFC North the two top teams in the division tangled up in Minneapolis and despite having been on a three game losing streak the Green Bay Packers did exactly what they needed to in order to keep a stranglehold of hosting a playoff game in January. In Chicago the Bears played a very good game, but they couldn’t muster anything in the red zone as the best defense in football continued to come with stops all day holding Chicago to just one touchdown and three Robbie Gould Field Goals. In Detroit the Lions continued to try and make their season a little less bleak as they got a big day out of their defense holding Oakland to just 13 points and 214 yards of total offense.

In the marquee match up of the weekend in the not only the division but in the whole league Green Bay’s defense was ferocious, and on a chilly night in Minneapolis they managed to get to Teddy Bridgewater all game even knocking him out for a series at the end of the first half with a shoulder injury. Adrian Peterson was kept in check as well carrying the ball 13 times for just 45 yards including one fumble that was crucial. At the beginning of the fourth quarter the Vikings had the ball down 27-13 and were driving to cut the deficit to seven with plenty of time remaining in the game. As Adrian Peterson was rumbling to inside the Green Bay red zone the ball was popped loose and recovered by Sam Shields on the Green Bay 22 yard line, this ended all hope for Minnesota and secured the end of their five game winning streak, while snapping Green Bay’s three game skid.

Both teams now stand at 7-3 while Green Bay has the edge in the tiebreaker in addition to holding a home date against the Vikings on the final day of the season. That game could very well decide the NFC North, and Green Bay is ecstatic that they were able to keep that game meaningful for them. A loss last night would’ve really put them behind the eight ball in terms of hosting a playoff game rather than going on the road on Wild Card Weekend (Jan. 9th & 10th).

The Chicago Bears squandered yet another opportunity to get their season back on track and this now makes three games that the Bears should’ve won without question. Brock Osweiler made a couple very nice throws and clearly showed that he is the new man in Denver with his mobility and ability to throw down the field. However the Bears did some very good things themselves and in the end it came down to a two point conversion that they couldn’t convert. Chicago got a late score from Jeremy Langford with under a minute to go remaining, but a draw was snuffed out and Langford didn’t even come close to crossing the goal line on the final Bears play of the game.

The Bears defense played probably their best game of the year, and while in the early going it seemed the running game was going to gobble them up, the Bears made some corrections and kept CJ Anderson under wraps for most of the second half. Chicago outscored and out gained Denver in the second half but when the Bears would get into the red zone they couldn’t punch the ball in despite having three trips, only coming away with nine points. Chicago saw Jay Cutler play another great game while only having one interception against the best defense in the league. TJ Ward played an outstanding game for the Broncos and showed why he’s a perennial pro bowl caliber player. The Bears were again without three of their biggest weapons on offense in Alshon Jeffery, Matt Forte, and Eddie Royal. The game would’ve been a lot more interesting had Denver had to account for those three players on the field.

The biggest question of the game came when the Bears went for a fourth and goal from the four instead of taking the three points which would’ve put them down five. Of course it’s safe to say that the Broncos wouldn’t have played as conservatively as they did after getting the ball back, but the Bears defense had playing better as the game went on. The Bears fell to 4-6 on the season and now have a quick turnaround as they’ll go to Green Bay on Thanksgiving Night where the Packers will be retiring Brett Favre’s number.

In the other game in the NFC North the lowly Lions who had all the momentum coming into the season but have been a major disappointment. Detroit managed to scrape out a win against the surprising Raiders with another stout defensive effort. Now a couple of years ago this game would’ve been as forgotten about as the Thursday Night affair between the Jags and Titans, but with the way the Raiders have played this year they’re clearly showing people that they are on the rise in the AFC. The Lions got their second win in a row, and kept the Raiders themselves from getting back to five hundred. Derrick Carr had a lot of pressure on him throughout the night getting sacked while only dropping back 25 times. The Lions kept Latavius Murray to just 2.2 yards per carry on 18 tries and Amari Cooper had just one catch on the afternoon.

The Lions aren’t going to make the playoffs, but they could see themselves get on a little roll here without many people knowing about it. They kept Green Bay to 16 points in Lambeau and now surrendered just 13 to Oakland at home. They’re 2-0 since coming off their bye and now host the struggling Eagles at home in the early game on Thanksgiving. The Lions may not make the playoffs but it could be a adventure down the stretch to see if they could get themselves back to 8-8 on the year. Matthew Stafford had over 300 total yards of running and passing to go along with the game winning sneak into the end zone that gave the Lions their only lead of the second half after falling behind 13-9.