With the Bears losing on Sunday night, the Packers now find themselves one game back in a surprisingly strong NFC North division. As the Packers prepare to enter the second half of their season, and with three of the North teams in the top 7 of all NFC teams, the push to finish at the top of the NFC North will be an interesting fight.
The Detroit Lions
The Lions currently sit at the bottom of the NFC North and eleventh in all NFC Teams with a record of 4-5, and their remaining schedule is full of potential playoff teams. Fortunately for the Lions only two of their remaining seven games are away from Ford Field. Yet, on the flip side, four of the teams that they will welcome are: the Texans, the Bears, the Falcons and the Packers. The Lions will most likely lose all four of those games.
Giving the Lions a victory at Arizona and a victory over the up and down Indianapolis Colts and a loss in Green Bay, the Lions could easily end the season with a 6-10 record and at the bottom of the NFC North.
The Minnesota Vikings
With their win over the Lions last weekend, the Vikings find themselves moving up the NFL standings and only one game behind the Packers. With an amazingly talented running back, a week off for Percy Harvin, and an ugly dome that makes it annoyingly not fun for opponents to play in, the Vikings appear to have the pieces to make a run at, if not the top spot in the NFC North, at least the second and a wild card berth.
Yet, like the Lions, the Vikings remaning schedule is not kind. The Vikings have yet to play either the Bears or the Packers. They also have to make trips to Houston and to St. Louis to face a team that is almost as unpredictable as the Vikings.
Giving the Vikings home wins in both the Bears and Packers series, the Vikings would still need to win in St. Louis or Houston – not an easy task – in order to finish 9-7 and most likely third in the NFC North.
The Chicago Bears
The two toughest games that the Bears have faced this season, at Green Bay and versus Houston, the Bears have lost and their offense has looked pedestrian. Despite their strong record of 7-2, the Bears appear weak going into a tough end of season schedule.
The Bears have to face tough defenses in San Francisco, Seattle and Green Bay again. With a battered offense, the Bears will have a difficult time in San Francisco this coming Monday. Assuming the Bears lose on Monday, split their series with the Vikings and look like they did against Houston when they play Seattle, Packer fans will most likely still need the Bears to find another loss for the Packers to have a chance at the NFC North crown.
While the Bears fail to impress offensively, the Bears still could beat Minnesota at home and Arizona and Detroit on the road. The Packers best chance to finish first in the NFC North is to beat the Bears themselves. If they do, the Bears will finish 10-6. If the Packers can’t beat the Bears and the rest of this prediction holds, the Bears will finish 11-5.
The Green Bay Packers
Despite being second in the division, the Packers have the luxury of controlling their own destiny. The Packers have yet to play either the Lions or the Vikings. They also welcome the hapless Titans to Lambeau in week 16. The Packers should sweep the Lions and beat the Titans easily.
The Metrodome and the Vikings can be tricky and the Packers could stumble there. However, the game at Minnesota is the Packers last game of the season. If a playoff berth or the NFC North crown comes down to that game, and Vikings home field advantage will be negated.
The Packers toughest remaining games are: in New York against the Giants and when they go down to Chicago to play the Bears. Luckily for the Packers, the Giants do like to struggle in November, but hoping for the same Giants self-destruction they displayed in Cincinnati last weekend is not a given.
If the Packers mirror the first half of their season and finish the year out with three more losses, they will finish 10-6. That record will probably cement them in the fifth or sixth playoff spot and second in the NFC North.
However, if the Packers can top the Giants or even better, go to Chicago and take that game back from the Bears, the NFC North could easily be theirs. If the Packers take care of their own games, and erase some of the confusion – i.e. games like the Colts game – from the first half of the season, the remainder of their season could be the perfect lead up into the playoffs.
The Packers will most likely finish the season 10-6, however a 12-4 or 11-5 is still very much in their reach.
Assuming the NFL doesn’t steal another game, the Packers don’t blow another solid lead against a weak opponent or the Bears don’t find offensive rhythm, the Packers and Bears will fight it out for the top spot in the NFC North, with the Vikings finishing third and the Lions at the bottom of the NFC North.
Jayme Joers is a writer at CheeseheadTV’s Eat More Cheese and co-host of CheeseheadRadio. She also contributes to Pocketdoppler.com. You can contact her via twitter at @jaymelee1 or email at Jaymelee1@gmail.com.