To start things off I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and celebrated it with friends and family alike. If you’ve been steadily reading the weekly reports of the NFC North throughout the year you’d know that the Bears have had another lost season and won’t make the playoffs for the fifth year in a row. The division has been led all year by the two teams north of windy city, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers. The division will be decided this Sunday Night at Lambeau Field when the two teams face off on Sunday Night Football as announced during last night’s Vikings slaughtering of the Giants at TCF Bank Stadium.
First things we must review what happened in the other games before previewing the title tilt. In Detroit yesterday the Lions took on the 49ers in a game between two teams that could’ve faired better in their campaigns. The Lions came into the game in a tie with the Bears for last place in the north and were facing off against an even worse San Francisco squad that like them was bringing up the rear of their division out west.
It was a big day for Matt Stafford and Matt Prater as they combined for 28 of Detroit’s 32 points in an easy 15 point win at home. Calvin Johnson had a touchdown reception in addition to five other receptions for 77 yards. Stafford spread the ball around to eight different receivers and only misfired on eight passes throughout the game while throwing for just over 300 yards. The game was pretty clean as only one turnover was committed throughout, but the Lions played very well at home in their finale at Ford Field in 2015. The Lions will look to stay out of last place when they travel to Soldier Field on Sunday to take on the 6-9 Bears in the final game of 2015.
The Bears got to 6-9 with their impressive twice come from behind win in Tampa yesterday at a sun soaked Raymond James Stadium. The Bears caused five forced fumbles, two of which were recovered to go along with a Jameis Winston interception. The Bears got 174 rushing yards from four different rushers including Cutler who scrambled twice for 21 yards. Cutler was very efficient on the day not throwing any interceptions and one touchdown to Ka’ Deem Carey at the goal line. Cutler was 20/27 for 156 yards and hit six different receivers.
The defense was really the story on this day as they really never gave up any big plays when the game was hanging in the balance. The defense caused three turnovers and finally showed that they could be an opportunistic unit. The game was played under perfect conditions which is more than likely not going to be the case in the season finale this Sunday, but the Bears did play well against a team that was in the playoff hunt later than they were. The run game is something to be excited about for the future with the likes of Carey and Langford, while the defensive unit hopefully can build on this performance for the final game against a bitter rival in Detroit who beat them earlier in the year. A game that had serious significance at the time.
The Packers and Vikings games aren’t even worth discussing because they were so lopsided. The combined point differential for both teams was 67 points in both directions. The Packers got absolutely destroyed in the desert against a team that has to be the Super Bowl favorites after how the Panthers and Patriots looked in their respective games. The Cardinals did whatever they wanted and Carson Palmer nor Aaron Rodgers played the full game. The Cardinals defense scored two touchdowns and picked off Rodgers in the end zone. Up in Minneapolis the Vikings crushed the Giants on a 13 degree night under the stars. Minnesota scored 49 points and Teddy Bridgewater nor Adrian Peterson finished the game.
The Packers and Vikings will meet at Lambeau in the last game of the regular season to see who hosts the lowest Wild Card team in two weekends. Both teams have qualified for the NFC Playoffs as the field is set in that conference. The only other decider is who plays who and where. The ideal situation for any team is to travel to Washington to take on the weak NFC East Champions. The Seahawks are the other team in the mix and they close out their season in Glendale against a Cardinals team that could be resting their starters if the Panthers beat the Buccaneers at home as part of the early afternoon slate.
The Week 17 NFC Playoff scenarios are too confusing to try and explain, however if Seattle loses to Arizona, the NFC North runner-up would be helped immensely. The Packers and Vikings with a loss by Seattle would go to Washington if either loses (not good for NBC). Regardless of a Seattle loss, the Packers would go to Washington if they lose because of the head to head matchup they won early in the season over Seattle. Everyone wants Washington and everyone wants to avoid Seattle. If Seattle loses, you could conceivably watch two teams try and take a dive on National Television. If Seattle wins which is expected after Carolina goes out and handles business, Arizona’s game becomes meaningless and they’ll rest all their starters. At that point Green Bay would be able to pick their opponent based on outcome. If Green Bay wins they get Minnesota at home, if they lose they travel to Washington. There is a high probability Aaron Rodgers won’t play in this game and John Kuhn will get the ball handed into his gut 30 times.