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NFC North News and Notes: October 29

Posted Oct 29, 2013

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

Last Week: Bye Week

This Week: Bears vs. Packers, Monday Night Football

The Bears headed into their bye week as banged up as any team in the League, but a majority of the injuries they suffered are long-term issues, such as Jay Cutler’s groin injury and Lance Briggs’ shoulder problem.  So, they will head into Monday night’s game vs. the Packers as a shorthanded bunch, though Green Bay certainly has their share of injuries as well. Chicago is a full game behind the Packers in the NFC North and tied with the Lions in the loss column, so a loss here would really put a dent in their hopes to win the division.


Vikings

Last Week: 31-30 win vs. Dallas

24-17 would be a solid final score to what most would call an entertaining NFL game.  On Sunday at Ford Field however, that was the score for just the fou4thrth quarter.  Fortunately for the Lions, they were the ones that scored 24 and they needed each and every one of those points as they eked out a 31-30 dramatic win over the Cowboys.

The main story stemming from this game was the performance put on by Calvin Johnson, who hauled in 14 passes for a whopping 329 yards in the win, finishing just seven yards shy of Flipper Anderson’s NFL record, which he set in 1989 while playing for the Rams.

Johnson had two of his 14 catches on the game-winning drive, which was led and capped by Matthew Stafford, who leaped over the line and extended the ball into the end zone for the game-winning score with just seconds left in the game.  Stafford, not surprisingly, almost eclipsed the 500-yard mark, throwing for 488 yards with one score and two interceptions.

As a whole, Detroit finished the game minus-four in the turnover department, which makes the fact they ended up winning almost unbelievable.

Dallas had a great chance to put Detroit away late in the 4th quarter after the Lions turned the ball over on downs at their own 31, handing the ball over to Tony Romo and Co. already in field goal range.  The Cowboys elected to run it three times to make the Lions use their final two timeouts before Dan Bailey kicked a 44-yard field goal to make it 30-24 with just over a minute left to play.

The Cowboys’ defense offered little to no resistance on the final drive, and thanks to Stafford’s touchdown the Lions moved to 5-3 on the year to keep pace with the Packers for the NFC North crown and also one of the two wild card spots.

This Week: Bye

The Lions will use this week to rest up before back-to-back road games at Chicago and Pittsburgh.


Vikings

Last Week: 44-31 win vs. Minnesota

The Packers found themselves up just seven points at halftime last Sunday night at Mall of America Field in a game they had largely dominated for the first 30 minutes.  However, they got the ball to start the 3rd quarter and proceeded to go 80 yards on 15 plays, including three 3rd-down conversions and one on 4th down, and doubled their lead en route to a 44-31 win over the Vikings.

Third downs were the story of the night in many ways, as the Packers were never actually stopped by the Vikings in their nine possessions which went like this: touchdown, field goal, touchdown, touchdown, touchdown, field goal, field goal, field goal, and then took two knees to end the game.

Green Bay came into the game minus several key players such as Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley, but looked no worse for the wear on either side of the ball.  Aaron Rodgers was his usually off-the-charts good, completing 24 of 29 passes for 285 and two scores.

But the real story for the Packers offensively was them again showing they can run the ball, as the team as a whole ran for 182 yards, including 94 by Eddy Lacy, who along with James Starks each scored touchdowns.  Since returning from an early season injury Lacy has averaged nearly 99 yards per game over his last four.

The Vikings didn’t put much up against the Green Bay defense when it counted, with just two Vikings drives going for over 60 yards and/or scores before the last two scores that came when the game was out of reach. 

Special teams was a bit of a wash with the Packers allowing a Cordarrelle Patterson kickoff return touchdown but then scoring a punt return touchdown of their own late in the 2nd quarter.

This Week: Bears at Packers, Monday Night Football

Despite their injuries it would appear as though the Packers have a chance to extend their four-game winning streak to a much larger number if they can get through Monday night’s game against what figures to be a desperate Bears team.  Green Bay hosts Philadelphia, travels to New Jersey for a game against the Giants and then returns home to take on the Vikings, all games they will be favored to win.

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