Around the AFC North - Week 16

The Packers might not be going to the playoffs, but that doesn't mean they can't enjoy being spoilers. Andrew Garda gives you a tour around the division to see what the Packers face here at the end.

So that was sudden.

At this point there shouldn't be any shock that the Packers are in the situation they're in — not in the playoffs and Aaron Rodgers on injured reserve. That said, it's no less disappointing for fans, or players, who are used to success. The best the Packers can do now is play spoiler for the Vikings and/or the Lions. 

That's assuming the Lions don't spoil themselves this week. If they manage not to wet their bed against the Bengals this week, the Packers have a chance to knock them out of the playoffs next week. Meanwhile, sure the Vikings are locked into the playoffs, but the Packers have a chance to deal a blow to their home field and bye hopes this week. 

So let's take a look at what is going on with each team and their matchups.

Vikings at Packers

We'll start here and, as always, since there is plenty of material going up on this website breaking down all the nuances of the game, we won't get into the nitty-gritty here. 

What we will do is say this team is really healthy for the most part, has a solid passing offense, a great defense and an improved offensive line. That makes this a very tough hill to climb for a Packers team without Rodgers. We're still waiting for Case Keenum to remember he's Case Keenum, but maybe he won't, and it's hard to imagine that changing this week against this defense. 

The one dark cloud on the Minnesota horizon is tight end Kyle Rudolph's ankle. He didn't practice on Tuesday and probably won't Wednesday. So he could be on the shelf come Saturday. That's the good news for Green Bay.

The bad news  is that the Vikings don't need him all that much. 

Also, one imagines safety Harrison Smith is going to be fired up after getting snubbed for the Pro Bowl. Mind you, the Pro Bowl has become a joke, so we're not sure how much he should be angry. Packers fans can hope he isn't because an angry Smith is a dangerous Smith.

Lions at Bengals

As mentioned above, the Lions should win this game against a pretty bad Bengals team. Losing it would be like DeSean Jackson tossing the ball away right before the goal line.



In other words, pretty ridiculous.

While the Lions are playing OK overall the last two weeks, those wins were against the Bears and Buccaneers. Not great teams this year by any stretch, but neither is Cincinnati. There does seem to be some drama in the backfield, as Ameer Abdullah has been benched in every way but name, and isn't pleased. Will it matter? It shouldn't, but it's the sort of thing which can be bad if a player's attitude becomes toxic.

The sort of thing which screws up easy games like this. 

Then again, Marvin Lewis is finally leaving the Bengals, so who knows if they're going to mail it in themselves. 

Expect the Lions to win this one, which could make next week interesting if the Falcons lose to the Saints this weekend, which is a real possibility. And in Week 17, the Falcons face the Panthers too and while the Panthers are in a much better situation than the Falcons or Lions in that they get the Bucs this week. That means if the Lions win this week and Atlanta doesn't, the Packers can personally knock the Lions out with a win in Week 17.

It's the little things for Packers fans.

Browns at Bears

In the "Also Ran Bowl" we have the hapless Bears and the even more hapless Browns. Will Cleveland win a game? It's not impossible to think they might do so against Chicago, who is without Kyle Long (neck surgery), Pernell McPhee (shoulder) and possibly safety. Nick Prosinski. 

Then again, the Browns are without a cohesive offense or a consistent defense. They do have Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman back, but they really don't have anyone to throw to them, as DeShone Kizer who only has the job still because the Browns know what they do and don't have in Cody Kessler.

Meanwhile, Mitch Trubisky continues to make some progress each week despite a lack of playmakers and a game script more conservative than the love child of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. It's going to come down to who plays a slightly less awful brand of football this week, and at home with a decent quarterback and a fair defense, it should be the Bears.

Nobody will know that though, because ratings for this should be negative. 

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Comments (3)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Johnblood27's picture

December 20, 2017 at 11:41 am

The long list of comments screams...

Who cares!?!

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Finwiz's picture

December 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm

I didn't read the article...I sure don't. (care)

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Tingham's picture

December 20, 2017 at 02:52 pm

Wow! Big news. Packers, Bears, Lions, and Vikings have been moved to the AFC NORTH.

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