NFC North Week 17

The NFL Regular Season wrapped up on Sunday and as expected the final game of the season was the NFC North Championship Game up in Lambeau between the Vikings and Packers. It was a big night for the Vikings as they avenged the earlier loss to the Packers at home and claimed their first divisional crown since 2009. The Packers had won five straight NFC North Championships up until Sunday Night and with the loss will instead of hosting the Vikings again on Sunday now have to travel to D.C. to take on the Redskins in the Wild Card Round. The Vikings on the other hand will host the two time defending conference champion Seahawks at TCF Bank Stadium in the early game on Sunday.

The other NFC North tilt was to see who’d finish at the bottom of the division and pick up an extra five spots in the NFL Draft, again to be held in Chicago this May. Detroit led throughout the game in Chicago and closed out the win with a late Jay Cutler interception around the two minute mark. Calvin Johnson who has a cap hit of $24 million next year had a big game with ten catches for 137 yards and a score.

The Bears secondary for the most part got shredded as Stafford had 298 yards passing and three touchdowns with no interceptions. On the Bears side Cutler had three picks on the day and Matt Forte got a heavy workload with 17 ¬†carries and 20 touches in all totaling 110 yards and a score. It’s expected that Sunday was Forte’s last game as a Bear and got a nice sendoff from the fans and his teammates. Forte has been deemed expendable with the cheaper options of Langford and Carey looking to be a productive back combination for next year. With the loss the Bears finished the season 6-10 and will be picking 11th in the upcoming NFL Draft. The win moves the Lions to 7-9 on the year which will give them the 16th selection. The Bears had the same 6-10 record as three other teams, but their strength of schedule was tougher than the other teams so they had to pick last in their win-loss tiebreaker. The Lions had the same record as five other teams and like the Bears had the toughest strength of schedule of the six teams likewise causing them to pick at the bottom.

Now we come the funnest part of the season with the upcoming NFL Playoffs kicking off this weekend. The NFL this year has decided to split the conference games up into two different days. On Saturday the AFC Wild Card Games will be played, and then Sunday the NFC Playoffs start in Minneapolis. The Vikings will be helped out by the fact that it’s supposed to get brutally cold in the Midwest this weekend, and with the early game on Sunday temps may not get out of the teens throughout the day. The Seahawks are currently 5.5 point favorites with an impressive last game in Arizona as their closing argument to the NFL before the start of the second season. The Vikings did crush the Giants in their final home game this year, and then followed it up with another impressive victory in Green Bay that only became close after Patterson’s fumble following an 80-yard kickoff return.

The late game on Sunday sees the Packers head to Washington to take on the surging Redskins who seem to have gotten their house in order after a rough start to the season. The Redskins have won four in a row and six of eight heading into their home game against the Packers. Meanwhile Green Bay has been struggling for most of the second half of the season following a 6-0 start. Green Bay got it going a little bit with a three game winning streak to start December, but after that they got blown out two weeks ago in Arizona, and followed it up with a weak effort offensively at home with the division on the line.

No matter what the case of where the Packers play, it’s common logic that nobody wanted to face the Seahawks this year, and Green Bay could get themselves together this weekend and see themselves get further in the playoffs with a favorable matchup against the weakest divisional winner in the conference. The Vikings as everyone remembers opened December with a brutal 31 point loss to Seattle that seemed to help spark the Seahawks to this strong run to end the season.