How the NFC North Will Be Won… Or Lost
Only two weeks left in the NFL season and only a handful of teams (Denver, KC, Indy, and Seattle) have clinched playoff berths. The rest of the contenders are left to jockey for home field advantage, first round byes, and wild card spots. And nowhere is there a bigger logjam of mediocre postseason desperadoes than the NFC North, where only my Vikings are making winter vacation plans. With two weeks to go the Chicago Bears lead the division with an 8-6 record followed by Green Bay at 7-6-1 and Detroit at 7-7. So, with only two games left how might this whole thing play out? Let’s take a look.
Chicago. The Bears are in the proverbial driver’s seat and “control their own destiny” which is probably the worst place you can possibly be in the NFC North. This weekend Chicago plays the Eagles, another team trying like hell to hold serve and not crap the bed down the stretch. Should make for great viewing Sunday night on NBC. The Eagles are 3-4 at home and the Bears are 3-4 on the road, so this one seems up for grabs. However Chicago’s D can’t seem to stop anyone so let’s say Philly takes it. The Bears then host the Packers for the finale. If Aaron Rodgers plays (a big “if”), the Pack probably win. If not, we’ll take the Bears at home. Tough to see Chicago losing out, so let’s say they manage to finish 9-7.
Green Bay. The Pack have a home game vs. Pittsburgh this weekend. I’m guessing Rodgers doesn’t play and the Steelers D manages to make Matt Flynn feel like he’s still on the Raiders. A week later it’s the Bears in Chicago. Green Bay lucked out in Dallas and never should have gotten that tie with Minnesota so we’re guessing they win one of their final two as well and finish 8-7-1.
Detroit. The Lions are easily the most intriguing team in the bunch, having squandered a division that was theirs for the taking and now on the outside looking in. They welcome the walking dead New York Giants to Detroit this Sunday and should rightly throttle Eli and company. If Detroit doesn’t hang at least 30 points on the Jints they shouldn’t bother to show up for their season finale at Minnesota. And what about Minnesota? The Vikes have had a very disappointing season but haven’t quit the way the Texans and Redskins have. They play Cincy this Sunday and, if they win, look for them to be fired up at home to crush Detroit’s playoff hopes. If they lose (which they probably will), they may still try to send the Lions packing but I get the feeling that Stafford, Bush, and Megatron do enough to beat ’em, putting Detroit at 9-7 and winning the North based on sweeping the season series from the Bears.
So, there you have it, the Detroit Lions are your NFC North champs. That was simple, wasn’t it? I’m sure this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m actually rooting for them.