Category Archives: NFC North Division

27

December

Packers Periscope: Week 17 at Chicago Bears

The Past: The last meeting in this storied rivalry did not go so well for the Packers; losing the game was actually the smaller matter as the Packers season essentially spiraled out of control with Aaron Rodgers breaking his collarbone, which would eventually take 7 weeks to heal.  The Packers did do a couple things well, notably Eddie Lacy rushing for 150 yards and James Starks chipping in for another 40 but without Jay Cutler being, well Jay Cutler, the Bears played an efficient and mistake free game with Josh McCown under center and ultimately won 27-20.

For the Packers, this started a team collapse, starting first with the uncertainty at quarterback; Seneca Wallace was injured and placed on IR the next week, Scott Tolzien played with glimpses of potential, but costly mistakes ultimately caused the Packers to call on their old friend Matt Flynn, who had been released by Seattle, Oakland and the Bills in this season alone.  While Flynn was completely overmatched against the Lions in the Thanksgiving game and has been a below average quarterback, he also has shown the moxie that got him drafted by the Packers in the first place, managing to win two comeback games by 1 point, something that many critics have argued Aaron Rodgers has failed to do.

Ironically, while the Packers have done about as well as can be expected without Rodgers, they shouldn’t even been in the playoff race right now as the rest of the NFC north has had an even more inexplicable collapse.  Naturally the Vikings and notably Adrian Peterson weren’t going to be able to repeat their magical season from last year one more time, and more importantly seem just as confused about their quarterbacks as they were last year.  The Bears have been an enigma this year as well; sometimes it looks like they are finally becoming a dominant offensive team, other times it looks like they really wish they had their stalwart defense, at times crushing the Dallas Cowboys 45-28 but then getting destroyed by the Philadelphia Eagles 11-54.  Most startling is the fall of the Detroit Lions, who should have clinched the NFC North months ago.  The Lions have clearly one of the most talented teams in the NFL and unlike the Bears, Packers and Vikings have had a stable quarterback position the entire season, which should have won them the division right there.  Add to that a ferocious defense, and a powerful passing game spearheaded by Calvin Johnson and the Lions should have been the cream of the black and blue.  However, in the last 6 games, the Lions have only beat the Packers and basically killed their playoff hopes by letting a kicker beat them and then sealed their fate with a loss against the Giants.

26

December

Rodgers Reportedly Will Start Sunday Against Bears

Aaron Rodgers

Reports are emerging that Rodgers will start Sunday’s game against the Bears

According to the Twitter account of FOX Sports Wisconsin’s Paul Imig, a source is telling him that the Green Bay Packers will announce that quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start on Sunday against the Chicago Bears.

Here is his earlier tweet:

 

There are two things to keep in mind here.  The first is that until the team officially announces it, this is still speculation.  Imig, however, has proven a credible source when it comes to Packers news.

The second is that I need to get out of the predictions business.  Earlier this week during my Quick Hits post, I tossed out a few predictions that I had for the Packers this season and into the next few.  If Rodgers does, in fact, start, I’m already wrong on one of the biggest topics that I took a stab at.  But this is hardly about me and I think many of us already knew I’m not always right so on we move.

Rodgers has missed the team’s last seven games and eight if you include most of the first meeting with the Bears, in which he was injured.  That’s half of this season.  Rodgers’ return would surely give this team a boost, after watching them flail through the first month without #12 in uniform.  The questions may now turn from “will he play?” to “how will he play?”.  Sure, it’s Aaron Rodgers and he is likely to come in and offer more than any other quarterback on the Packers roster can.  But after missing two months, how long will Rodgers need to get back into a groove?

The answer is unknown but Rodgers did take the practice reps, on Thursday, that normally go to the starter.  However long it may take Rodgers to return to form, it can’t be too long if the Packers want a chance of winning Sunday’s game in Chicago and making the postseason.  This is a “win and you’re in” scenario with the loser going home.

Stay tuned for more and as the team moves closer to announcing Rodgers’ status for Sunday’s game.  A return against the same team who knocked him out and with a chance to win the NFC North on the line?  The media outlets have to be overjoyed for this late holiday gift!

25

December

Around the NFC North: Week 17

Around the NFC North

The Packers and Bears meet for the NFC North division title on Sunday

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate.  And Happy Wednesday to those who don’t.

We are down to just one game left in the 2013 season and the NFL gets its way again.  In the NFC North, the matchup between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will determine the division winner on Sunday.

Both the Packers and Bears lost their games to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively.  Chicago could have clinched the division with a win.  Instead, they will host the Packers for another late-season game with major playoff implications.

In the other divisional matchup, the Detroit Lions will face the Minnesota Vikings for the last time at Mall of America Field.  The Lions, who just one week ago were in the driver’s seat for the division title, lost to the New York Giants late and were eliminated from postseason contention.  The Vikings dropped their meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals and have likely begun making offseason tee times already.

Let’s look into each matchup a bit closer in this final edition of Around the NFC North.

Detroit Lions (7-8) at Minnesota Vikings (4-10-1)

One thing that can be said about this matchup is that I’m sure both the Bears and Packers are glad they don’t need to rely on the Vikings anymore this season.

Minnesota did come up with a big win over the Eagles in week 15 but returned to form in getting blown out by the Bengals last week.  After reaching the postseason last year, they will end this season with no more than five wins and double-digit losses.  Rumors are already swirling that Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is likely to be let go as soon as the season ends.

The Lions saw their season’s hopes fade to black in a matter of six days, with their loss to the Giants being the exclamation point on a season that turned disappointing in a hurry.  Despite being the third-ranked offense in the league, the Lions weren’t able to muster enough when it mattered.  Much like Frazier, there is a chance that Lions head coach Jim Schwartz could be shown the door soon after the regular season is over.

24

December

Packers Week 17: Quick Hits

cyrstal ball

What is in store for the Packers this week and beyond?

With one game left to play in this 2013 regular season, the Packers still find themselves with a chance to win the NFC North (somehow).  They round out their schedule with a visit to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears.  The winner of this game will win the division and host a playoff game.

With that, here’s a smorgasbord of Packers-related quick hits heading into this week.

Aaron Rodgers

Yes, I know, some of you are tired of this topic and story but he is the face of the Packers franchise so this isn’t going away.  Some early reports have supposedly leaked out about Rodgers’ already being ruled out for this week’s game against the Bears.  Until the team announces it, it’s never official.  Still, I am sticking with my proclamation from Sunday which is that I don’t think Rodgers plays this week.

I have no sources and no inside scoop.  This is just my thought and I’m done with allowing myself to wonder if Rodgers will be cleared to play and then find out, for the seventh week in a row, that he is not.  The pattern has established itself and the Packers don’t tell anybody anything when it comes to injuries.  If the bone wasn’t healed enough last week, how much is really going to change in seven days?

This also brings up a good question that was brought up by Jason Wilde during last Friday’s “Green and Gold Today” show on ESPN Milwaukee.  Wilde wondered about the possibility that the Packers have already decided that Rodgers isn’t returning this season and just have not told him yet.  That sounds like a ridiculous game plan and I’m sure Rodgers would figure it out on his own.  I hope that’s not what is happening.

Still, as long as the Packers wait to tell the world what it going on with #12 until late in the week, that gives everyone the better part of five days to theorize and debate.  If nothing else, this is keeping @JSComments alive and well on Twitter.

Mike McCarthy

McCarthy is not fun to listen to in a press conference and I don’t think many would disagree.  Beyond that, he’s a good head football coach and I hope he stays in Green Bay for some time.  I know that his play calling and clock management has come under question this season and I do agree with that.  But overall, McCarthy is more good than he is bad for the Packers.  His overall record as head coach says so.

24

December

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Steelers 38, Packers 31

Eddie Lacy had his way with the Steelers' defense and could be in for a bigger day against the Bears if he's able to suit up.

Eddie Lacy had his way with the Steelers’ defense and could be in for a bigger day against the Bears if he’s able to suit up.

After the Green Bay Packers lost a home heartbreaker to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Packers’ playoff destiny fell out of their control.

But Jay Cutler and the division-leading Chicago Bears were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles later Sunday night, and now it’ll be Packers-Bears in the final week of the regular season for the NFC North crown and a spot in the playoffs.

And for the umpteenth week in a row, a good portion of ALLGBP’s Game Balls and Lame Calls post will be centered around the increasingly unknown status of Aaron Rodgers, which got even cloudier when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen cited potential tension between Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy on NFL Countdown prior to Sunday’s game. Mortensen tweeted Rodgers remains at “extraordinary risk” with his fractured collarbone.

But the whole will-Rodgers-play-or-won’t-he-play debate or the why-isn’t-Rodgers-playing question seems kind of pointless, doesn’t it? Clearly, Rodgers isn’t ready to play right now. He hasn’t played since November 4, and he wants to play. Whether the final call falls with Rodgers, McCarthy, Ted Thompson or Dr. Pat McKenzie, the fact still remains: Rodgers isn’t ready to play right now.

During the pregame segment, Mortensen said Rodgers pushed the “organizational decision” narrative that he and McCarthy used so often last week as an attempt to defend his toughness in hopes of fending off comparisons to Brett Favre, who undoubtedly would have played through a broken leg and a freshly amputated throwing hand.

But while I think the Rodgers debate really comes down to semantics, the Countdown segment raised some questions to me. Rodgers is who he is. He’s probably the best quarterback in the NFL, and he’s probably better in 2013 than Favre was at any point of his career, in my opinion. Naturally, comparisons will exist between Favre and Rodgers just as they did with other eternally-linked quarterbacks such as the 49ers’ Joe Montana and Steve Young and last year’s draft class that produced Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson. People like to compare people to other people.

18

December

Around the NFC North: Week 16

Around the NFC North

This week’s slate of NFC North games could set up a huge finish to the 2013 regular season

Week 15 brought about some major fireworks around the NFC North, culminating with the Monday night game between the Detroit Lions and Baltimore Ravens.  The Lions scored a late touchdown to take the lead but allowed the Ravens to drive and give kicker Justin Tucker a shot at a game winning 61-yard field goal.  He made it and suddenly, the Lions find themselves in third place behind the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers.

On Sunday, the Bears were able to hang on and pick up a valuable road win against the Cleveland Browns.  It was Bears quarterback Jay Cutler’s first game back in over a month and while he was admittedly a bit rusty, he was able to create enough to get Chicago the win.  The Bears are now alone in first place in the North.

The Minnesota Vikings spanked the visiting Philadelphia Eagles and brought the birds back down to earth a bit, ending Phily’s five-game winning streak.  What is more impressive is that Minnesota did so without the services of their best player in that of running back Adrian Peterson.  They were also without running back Toby Gerhart but they did manage to get three rushing touchdowns from. . Matt Asiata?  While the Vikings are playing for pride, at this point, they certainly showed plenty on Sunday.

Benefiting from the Eagles’ loss, albeit ever so slightly, was the Dallas Cowboys.  In Sunday’s late game and America’s “Game of the Week”, the Cowboys hosted the Packers.  Green Bay had not won in nine previous trips (including playoffs) to Dallas and had lost 11 of their last 12 there, spanning over a 24-year period.  That record, however, was at the old Texas Stadium in Irving.  This game would be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, where the Packers won their most recent Super Bowl in February of 2011.

After heading in the halftime locker room down 26-3, the Packers seemed all but done for the day.  Many suggested that they just board the bus and head home.  I know because I was among them.  After watching this team flail through the past five games, it seemed highly unlikely that they could overcome such a deficit.  They did just that, however, capitalizing on two huge interceptions late in the fourth quarter to seal the comeback victory over the Cowboys, 37-36.  No team or fan base was more elated by the Lions loss to the Ravens than the Packers, as they remain in contention for a division title and can secure it on their own and without help.

16

December

Game Balls and Lame Calls: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

Andrew Quarless (81) and Eddie Lacy (27) turned in big games for the Packers against the Dallas Cowboys, and in the process, may have saved Green Bay's season.

Andrew Quarless (81) and Eddie Lacy (27) turned in big games for the Packers against the Dallas Cowboys, and in the process, may have saved Green Bay’s season.

Last week, it looked like the Green Bay Packers may have saved their season with a 22-21 win over the Atlanta Falcons. They were 6-6-1 with three games to play, and Aaron Rodgers appeared to be on the verge of returning to the lineup.

Rodgers didn’t play Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, but that didn’t stop Matt Flynn from leading a dramatic second-half comeback, which, in the process, may have saved the Packers’ season. They’re still breathing.

Despite last week’s win, much was made of the “boo birds” amongst Packers fans just before halftime against the Falcons. Had this week’s game been played at Lambeau Field, the boo birds likely would have returned as the Packers trailed by 23 points at the break. But the team recharged its batteries for the second half and kept its head above water with two winnable games to play and a division championship on the line.

For the Packers, the first 30 minutes against the Cowboys were ugly.

But the second half was so very different.

For all the things that have went wrong for the Packers this season, a lot of things went their way in the final 30 minutes. And when push came to shove, the Packers Chicago Bear’d the Dallas Cowboys with timely turnovers and out-of-nowhere explosive plays. A lot of football has yet to be played, as the Packers (7-6-1) try and play catch up to the Bears (8-6) and Lions (7-6) for first place in the NFC North, but hope still remains in Green Bay.

Super Bowl XLVIII is still a month and a half way, and the Packers certainly don’t appear to be the class of the NFC at this point, but there’s a 2010 feeling to this team, isn’t there? A week 15 matchup in Dallas (where the Packers won Super Bowl XLV), a week 16 game against Pittsburgh (whom they beat in Super Bowl XLV) and a regular-season finale against the Bears (whom they beat to clinch a playoff spot in 2010 and again in the NFC Championship) brings back memories of the Packers’ last hardware-winning season.

Two games remain on the 2013 schedule. And the Packers are still alive.