As it inches closer and closer to Christmas and the eventual end of the regular season, the NFC North now appears to be all but wrapped up by the Green Bay Packers who won at home on Sunday in blowout fashion over a depleted Dallas Cowboys 28-7. The Minnesota Vikings just three days earlier played a heck of a game in the desert, but in the end couldn’t force the game into overtime after driving the team down within Blair Walsh’s range. The Bears lost their second straight game and again it was Robbie Gould who was to blame after missing a makable game tying field goal. The Lions lost another one on the road in St. Louis to fall to 4-9.
The Packers to start now have in essence a two game lead in the division with another home date against the Vikings who they may see the following week in the Wild Card Game. The Packers got tremendous production from their running backs this week as Eddie Lacy played like he’s capable of with 124 yards rushing on 24 carries. In addition James Starks had 103 all-purpose yards and two scores which was more than enough for Aaron Rodgers and the Packers defense who kept everyone but Darren McFadden in check all night. Dez Bryant was limited to just one catch for nine yards and Cassel as a whole had just 114 passing yards.
The Vikings on Thursday hung tough with the supposed second or third best team in football in the desert, and may have proven to themselves that they hand with any team in football if nothing more. The Cardinals sacked and forced a fumble out of Teddy Bridgewater’s hands at the end of the game to end Minnesota’s chances at kicking a game tying field goal. Blair Walsh had been a perfect 4/4 on the night in both field goals and extra points. Bridgewater on the night had been all but perfect except for the final play when he tried to step up in the pocket to get some extra yards for his kicker. The Vikings were out of timeouts and the sack would’ve ended the game on its own because it was already third down with the clock ticking. Bridgewater had passed for 335 yards and a score while completing 25/36 on the night.
The Bears battled hard in the second half against the Redskins, but the first half deficit could never be overcome as they fell down early 14-0. Chicago would find themselves trailing 21-7 midway through the third only to tie it up at the end of the third following Matt Forte’s fourth touchdown run of the season. The only points that would be scored in the final frame were Dustin Hopkins’ 47-yard field goal at the beginning of the fourth and the Bears would never tie the game from there despite having the ball on three separate possessions in the quarter. Chicago by losing their second consecutive game in heartbreaking fashion have actually lost the most games in the NFL this season by a field goal or less at four games.
The final game to discuss is the lowliest of games in which the 4-8 Lions traveled to the equally porous 4-8 Rams. In the battle of cellar dwellers the Rams came out victorious behind another huge performance by their stud rookie RB Todd Gurley who had 14o yards and two scores on just 16 carries for an 8.8YPC average. The Rams got a defensive touchdown via Trumaine Johnson’s 58-yard pick six late in the second quarter which was only points of the first half. In the second half the Lions would tie the game on their second possession, but from then on it was all Gurley as he had both of his scores in the third and early fourth quarter. For the Lions they saw a good game out of Golden Tate who had two touchdown receptions, but Matthew Stafford had no running game to speak of on Sunday as he had to throw the ball 46 times on the afternoon.
Next week the Vikings will try and get themselves back on the right track against a scrappy Bears team that is out of any playoff discussion at home. The Lions travel to New Orleans on Monday Night, and the Packers will try and win on the west coast against a Raiders team that’s coming off the biggest win of recent franchise memory.