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NFC North News and Notes: November 6

Posted Nov 6, 2013

We take a look around the NFC North to see what the Vikings closest competition has going on…


Vikings

Last Week: 27-20 win over Green Bay

Down several key players and going against the red-hot Packers, a team that has owned the Bears for several years now, in Lambeau Field, not many people gave the Bears a shot to come away with a win on Monday night.

And then Aaron Rodgers got hurt.

Shea McClellin, a 2012 1st-round pick, sacked Rodgers on a 3rd down on Green Bay’s first offensive series, injuring Rodgers and knocking him out for the remainder of the game. And from that point on, the Bears defense was going against a Packers offense featuring journeyman Seneca Wallace at quarterback.

Green Bay was still able to put up points, though, thanks to Eddie Lacy gashing the banged-up Bears defense to the tune of 150 yards rushing, while James Starks added 40 of his own.

Chicago took a 24-20 lead late in the 3rd quarter thanks to a sick catch by Alshon Jeffrey, who hauled in his third touchdown of the year. The teams then exchanged punts for a bit before the Bears offense, led by Josh McCown at quarterback, in for the injuries Jay Cutler, put together an 18-play, 80-yard drive that took just under nine minutes off the clock and ended with a Robbie Gould field goal to make it 27-20.

The Packers got the ball back deep in their own end with little time left and had no real shot to knot things up.

Teams should be able to run on the Bears for the duration of the season given the losses they’ve endured on defense, but the past defense played well, granted against a subpar quarterback.

On offense McCown put together another very solid effort. With reports that Cutler could return this Sunday from his groin injury, it will be interesting to see if they are in a rush to bring him back if he’s not at 100 percent given McCown’s impressive play.

Chicago’s offensive stars – Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte – showed up in a big-time way on this night, with Marshall catching seven passes for 107 yards and a score, while Forte had 179 combined rushing receiving yards and a score of his own.

This Week: Bears vs. Lions, Sunday at Noon

With the Bears, Lions and Packers all tied at 5-3 atop the division, each divisional game moving forward gets more important by the week, starting with this Sunday’s game between the Lions and Bears in Chicago. The Lions are coming off their bye week after a thrilling win against the Cowboys a few weeks ago. The Bears will be looking to avenge a 40-32 loss to the Lions from late September.

Last Week: Bye Week

This Week: Bears vs. Packers, Monday Night Football

The landscape of the NFC North has greatly shifted in the last week, and the Lions find themselves arguably the healthiest of all three teams that are tied atop the division and have a chance to remain in first this week as they travel to Chicago to take on the Bears, who will be preparing on a short week thanks to their Monday night game in Green Bay a few days ago. The Lions won the first matchup of these two rivals by a 40-32 score in Week 2.

Vikings

Last Week: 27-20 loss vs. Chicago

One could argue that no team has had to deal with more key injuries over the last few years than the Packers, who have seemingly lost star players at important positions up and down the lineup. But the one constant that held things together and really helped cover up some of those injuries was Aaron Rodgers.

With the likes of Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Clay Matthews already sidelines, Green Bay is now facing life without Rodgers for an undetermined amount of time after he broke his collarbone in Monday’s 27-20 loss to the Bears.

Reports vary on how long the former NFL MVP will miss but most believe it will be around three weeks, meaning the Packers could be led by Seneca Wallace until December. Fortunately for the Packers, two of their next three games are at home, with all of those games coming against teams with losing records.

But make no mistake about it: Monday night’s loss to the Bears could easily come back to haunt the Packers come playoff time, especially when you consider the Bears are banged up too and host the Packers on December 29 to close the regular season.

The biggest positive for the Packers is that they continue to run the ball extremely well, as the duo of Eddie Lacy and James Starks combined for 190 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. Green Bay is now second in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 148.6.

Wallace was very average on Monday night, though, now he’ll get a chance to practice with the No. 1 offense and get more reps, but at the same time opposing defenses now have tape of Wallace, who last took regular season snaps in late 2011 with the Browns.

Green Bay’s defense was just okay on this night but couldn’t get a stop on Chicago’s late 18-play drive that ended up icing the game. They didn’t force any turnovers on the night and allowed the Bears to go a combined seven of 15 on 3rd / 4th downs. Chicago ended up running 20 more offensive plays than the Packers.

This Week: Packers vs. Eagles, Sunday at Noon

The Eagles are 4-5 on the year and are one of the toughest teams in the League to get a grip on. Some weeks they look abysmal and others, like last week in Oakland where Nick Foles threw for seven touchdown passes, they look unbeatable. Either way, the Packers offense will likely need to score some points to hang with the Eagles this Sunday at Lambeau. Look for another heavy dose of Lacy and Starks as the Packers try to keep Foles and Co. on the sideline and put Wallace in favorable passing situations.


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