Around the NFC North

News from around the NFC North including the defending champion Green Bay Packers and their competitors the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.

Chicago Bears:    The Bears were officially and mercifully eliminated from playoff competition with their latest loss.  A once promising season has ended much like the previous with one major exception – there is now hope in the Windy City.

It seems that fans of the Chicago Bears view the current squad as an ascending team under watchful eye of new General Manager Ryan Pace and Head Coach John Fox.  Just harnessing the talents of highly erratic Jay Cutler and turning him into a decent NFL quarterback is evidence enough.

Key stats:  Jay Cutler has thrown for 3258 yards this season, only 121 less than Aaron Rodgers who has logged 3379.  The Packers have the 21st ranked offense and the Bears are 18th.     Chicago is 1 – 4 in its last five games with the only victory coming against the Packers on Thanksgiving at Lambeau Field.

Betting line:  Bears are three-point underdogs on the road.

Last Week:   Lost to Vikings in Minnesota

This Week:   At Tampa Bay

Season Record:  5 - 9

Place in NFC North:  Last (tied)

Detroit Lions:  A disappointing season is coming to a close with more major changes in store for the Lions.  Almost assuredly the Jim Caldwell lead coaching staff will be dismissed shortly after the last game.  Should that happen it is rumored that Bears OC Adam Gase will be a strong consideration for the Lions HC job.  Gase has done wonders for Jay Cutler this year and the new head coach will have a talented but under-performing quarterback to work with in QB Matthew Stafford.

Key stats:   Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is fond of saying that ‘statistics are for losers’ and by comparing the 2015 version of the Lions and Packers he may indeed have a point.  The Lions have actually fared better than the Packers in both offense and defense comparing average yards per game.  The Lions were the 15th ranked defense – the Packers were 16th.  The Lions offense ranked 20th with the Packers coming in right behind them at 21st.

Betting line:  Lions by 8.5 at home.

Last Week:   Beat the New Orleans Saints

This Week:   49’ers at Detroit

Season Record:    5 - 9

Place in NFC North:   Last (tied)

Minnesota Vikings:  The Vikings may catch a break when they take on the New York Giants at home this coming week.  The Giants mercurial wide-out Odell Beckham Jr. has been handed a one game suspension from the league for his actions against the Panthers this past week.  Beckham has an appeals process at his disposal should he choose to use it.

The Vikings have medical concerns of their own.  Adrian Peterson who leads the league in rushing (1314) left the game against the Bears with an injury.  His status for the Giants game is unknown at this time.

Key stats: Second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is 22nd in the league with total passing yards of 2964, but his 211.7 YPG is only the 43th best average.  Although all-world RB Adrian Peterson is still very productive, the Vikings surely will need more from Bridgewater if they are to advance any further in the coming years.  The Vikings offense is averaging only 323.5 YPG of total offense, good for only 28th in the league.

Betting line:  Vikings are 4.5 point favorites at home.

Last Week:   Beat the Bears at home

This Week:   Giants at home

Season Record:   9 - 5

Place in NFC North:  Second

Green Bay Packers:   The victory against the Raiders was not a thing of beauty, but a win nonetheless. Afterward an irritable head coach Mike McCarthy scolded the assembled press for questions that he considered too negative about his teams’ “style points and stats” rather than focusing on the final results - A 30 – 20 victory. 

“We’re right where I want to be. We’re right where we need to be. I’m tired of talking about all the negativity. That’s the overview of our season,” he said when asked about his team’s performance.

McCarthy’s mood might have been affected by a malfunctioning communications system in Oakland.  “The communication problems were horrendous,” McCarthy said in obvious frustration. “We had headset problems. We had a good plan. They loaded up to take away the run and made us beat them on the perimeter.”

Key stats:  The Packers are the number two scoring defense (265) in the NFC – sixth overall - trailing only the Seattle Seahawks (248) in the NFC.  The Cardinals are number-three (269) in the NFC. 

The talented Cardinals offense is the second most prolific scoring offense in the league averaging 31.8 PPG.  The Packers are a full six points behind Arizona ranked tenth at 24.8 PPG.

The Cardinals number one running back (still eleventh ranked) Chris Johnson is out for the year with an injury.   Chris’s replacement David Johnson is actually out-performing the starter in the all-important yards-per-carry category. David Johnson’s average yards per carry is 4.9 whereby Chris Johnson’s stood at 4.2.

Arizona is as a complete team as there is in the NFL, exemplified by their season’s point-differential (total points scored minus total points surrendered).  Their plus 176 bests all other teams.  The Packers are at a plus 82.

Key injuries:  Packers rookie wide receiver Ty Montgomery who flashed great potential before an ankle injury sidelined him in week six was placed on season-ending IR this week.  TE Andrew Quarless was reinstated to the 53-man regular roster to take his place.  LT David Bakhtiari had to leave the Raiders game with an apparent ankle injury and is still being evaluated but is said to be ‘doing better’.  Sam Shields missed the game in Oakland after suffering a head injury against the Cowboys.  Shield is still in the league-mandated concussion protocol and his status will not be known until later in the week.  LB Jayrone Elliot also left the game with tightness in his thigh and is also under evaluation by team doctors and trainers.

The Cardinals suffered a huge blow when their starting safety Tyrann Mathieu  (“The Honey Badger”) went down with a torn ACL.  Before going down Mathieu recorded the tenth most tackles of any DB in the league (89), four behind the No. 9 ranked competitor fellow S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  Mathieu and fellow Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson have recorded a team-high five interceptions each. Mathieu has been placed on season-ending IR.

The Packers earned a spot in the playoffs on Sunday with only the seeding position and NFC North Champion now in question. The Packers can claim the No. 2 playoff spot and a first round bye with wins over the Cardinals and Vikings, and a Cardinal loss to the Seahawks on the final day of the season.  A Packers win against the Vikings on January 3 assures them of the NFC North Title regardless of the results of this weeks’ games.

Betting line:  Packers are 4.5 point underdogs on the road.

Last Week:   Beat the Raiders in Oakland

This Week:   Cardinals in Arizona

Season Record:   10 - 4

Place in NFC North:   First

 

 

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Comments (44)

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

December 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm

The pass catchers on this team are poor. Jones is what he is. Cobb is not a #1 and clearly hobbled by the shoulder. Adams has sucked all year. Janis is not a NFL caliber WR yet and he may never become one. Only Abby and Q can change the passing games fortunes now. Not much to hang your hat on. It'll be better next year with Jordy and Monty back and with Abby and Janis another year to grow. A TE is necessary. Now. Nothing available in the draft. Time to dip into FA Teddy!!

I don't know what's up with Lacy but it's clear his career is at a crossroads. He has the ability but not the desire it seems. So he gets one more year to figure it out, but it might be time to look at a RB in the draft just to make sure we're covered next year. I'd bet Starks is gone considering his age.

Sitton is declining. Bulaga is almost always hurt. Bakh is average as a LT. Some parts on the OL are going to be moving soon. Tretter to Guard? Does he have the size and strength?

On defense it's time to move on from Pep. Need another ILB. Move CM3 back to OLB and let Elliot and Jones man the other spot. Maybe draft reinforcements there. I like where the DL and secondary are.

It's clear that GB is not an elite team this year - only a good one. The decline in talent from last year is palpable and young talent is needed quickly in order to avoid a rebuild which is only masked by ARod a la the Colts in Mannings latter years with them. I still think GBs roster 1-53 is stronger than anyone else in the division. And that will probably stay that way for years. But unless something drastic changes, we won't be celebrating Lombardi #5 any time soon. :(

On the other hand, Arizona currently is an elite team (although I think GB is still in better long term shape). I expect to lose on Sunday by 10 or more. And lose in the NFC Div Round to them again by 7-10. But I thought that about the NFCCG last year too, and GB was the better team. Hope I'm wrong. That's why they play the game.

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croatpackfan's picture

December 23, 2015 at 09:51 am

To bitter for my taste... I think if Minnesota gave the headache at Arizona, Packers can do even better. I think we are all to negative before every game after that Broncos game Packers lost. I see no blowouts in this team, but I see determination and stout. I will not be surprised if Packers win this Sunday, as I will not be surprised if you were correct in your prediction.
Also, I like to say that Packers expectation for Davante Adams made him ineffective. He is n ot at the level of the top WR, but he may be very good. But not under the pressure to carry over the team. He is 2nd year guy! He was not elite draft choice! I think he will be gem in Packers future...
Also, I'm tyred to digging up that last year NFCCG. That game is over, if Packers learned from that game (and I think they are) that game made them the most dangerous team in todays NFL. Those two ridiculous losses at home comes from searching what will be with Packers offense. I believe Packers offense found what they need to do. Run, run, short pass, short pass (not in that order, but lot of runs and short passes!) and from time to time 15 to 20 yards pass when opportunity show. This is slow, grinding football, Packers are the best at the moment!
So, I believe Packers will not be one and done this year!

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 23, 2015 at 09:59 am

'That's why they play the game I guess.'

Exactly right...

Can't look at teams on paper and say who is going to win. Anything can happen at anytime.
They play the game for a reason.

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TXBadger's picture

December 23, 2015 at 10:49 am

Your next screen name should be Eeyore. It would show that you have a sense of humor!

Oh bother.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 23, 2015 at 12:11 pm

You see the difference between us right there though cow. You say only two Super Bowl's between two Hall of Fame quarterbacks and I say that that is a possibility but still not a probability. I was speaking more about this year.

PackersRS is right. Last year we did have the best team in the NFL and a bunch of crazy stuff happened and we didn't win it all. This year we don't have the most talented team in the NFL but with the exception of one game we have hung in there with every single opponent we have faced - including the first team to go 14 and 0 since 2007. On the road.

While our chances this year are slimmer than they have been since 2012 or maybe even 2009, there is still a chance. And not an awful one either.

There are holes on this team that need to be addressed such as at tight end, guard, tackle, running back and at least one if not both linebacker positions. But there are also answers on the roster for every single one of those questions. Jake Ryan could step up. Tretter could fill-in at guard possibly. Lacy could wake up. The wide receivers will be better next year. That leaves tight end. All in all I think the future is still very bright for this team. I am not a Vikings fan who thinks the team is regressing. Cow, I Don't think you are either, but I do think that you are like Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. Despite how annoying you are, and me continually questioning why you continue to show up at a Packers fan forum when you so clearly hate the current Packers, I genuinely do feel sorry for you.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 02:25 pm

Wish we could say we hung in there every game, but Denver game was not the case. Allowing Manning to beat us was the lowlight of the year. Well the Bears game at home as well.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 23, 2015 at 03:41 pm

Yeah. I didn't forget Denver. Just too lazy to type them.

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Curry Rambeau's picture

December 23, 2015 at 01:08 pm

They'll probably beat the Vikings 'cause Lambeau and Eddie Lacy will get 20+ carries.

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Curry Rambeau's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:42 pm

You're correct about not having much of a home field advantage this year, but perhaps pride will boost the Packers at home vs. Vikings and last game. Just hoping.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:45 pm

So far. That could change quickly , if it hasn't already. Stay positive.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 23, 2015 at 11:47 am

Bearmeat, i think you are being a tad bit harsh here. Dont give up yet.

In the before the season i thought we were fine at TE because we were stacked at WR and have 2 FBs. Then jordy got injured. We could really use a good one right now. The truth is there are only a few great ones and a few good ones.

I think next year barring injury, we will be fine. The D will grow. Ive been real hard on adams but the old saying was it takes 3 years to develope a WR. Especially in this system.

We will find out what this yeam is about come sunday.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 23, 2015 at 12:17 pm

You are right Ray. If they hold up well this weekend - especially if they win - we are back to a super bowl contender. If not, nothing has changed and the team is what it is.

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Bear's picture

December 23, 2015 at 01:59 pm

Don't get why people are on the Quarless band wagon. Since 2010 he has a total of 6 touchdowns and averages around 20 catches a season. He's an OK blocker but seems to be a below average TE when compared to others in the league.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:39 pm

I'll take the blocking! He was solid enough in 2010 Besides he's all we have right now that might have some speed and upside.Even a little over RRodgers and Perillo, who are what they are. Don't see them getting faster. Rodgers is fine for red zone but we desperately need a middle of the field threat.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 02:31 pm

Had my doubts about getting by with our TEs this year but that has been the killer blow to this offense without a deep threat. Just a perfect storm I guess, but we have to find a TE next year. Have to.
For now we have two games left and I will remain optimistic. Why? Don't know but I'm not ready to throw in the towel. It is a new season once the playoffs start! Go Pack Go

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croatpackfan's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:21 pm

I only know that Packers are really high on Mitchell Henry, PS guy, 6-4, 252, very soft hands. Broncos steal him from Packers after TC, but have to release him because of their roster needs. Packers just jump on him immediately. Obviously, they expect much more from the guy!

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:42 pm

Has a perfect name for Packers.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:59 pm

Pass receivers: I see little in the draft for TEs, and not much in FA either. Even if Bennett gets cut, I am not sure he is a good fit. We have a logjam at WR with 6 returning (JJ is gone). A late 1st or 2nd Rd. WR will need to develop. It seems challenging to immediately upgrade this area, desirable as it would be. TT has to earn his money. RB: Lacy gets another yr. - too much talent. Starks can come back for 2 yrs at same money. I´d like a real scat back: the idea that Crockett is a change of pace is laughable, imo. Top 6 OL are all signed. All come back (Sitton has no dead money and can be cut if TT really thinks he has chronic injury that is leading to a decline). I view Sitton as a top OG when healthy, and a good one at present. I have screamed for GB to take an OT in the last few OT rich drafts. Time to spend a high choice. Not sure what GB thinks of Walker and Rotherham and whether either can play RT. No idea if either Tretter or Linsley can play OG, and Tretter will be in a contract year. I would like to see a LT in Rd 1 or failing that (one does not fall) a RT in the first 3 Rds. Really disagree on defense. I assume Raji is re-signed, though I think he coasts -disappears. Jones and Elliott are not ready to play OLB full time. Moving Jones to OLB leaves Daniels, Raji, Pennel, Guion? and Ringo? Good grief. I think Datone is better suited to DE. Better to leave CM3 at ILB, with Ryan, Barrington, Thomas, Palmer and a day 3 draft pick (4th to 6th Rd). Peppers despite his 9.5 sacks looks to have declined to me, but I see no alternative to bringing him back. Same for Neal and/or Perry. OLBs: Peppers, Elliott, Neal, Perry, and day one or two draft pick. 1 or 2 of those 11 LB gets cut, BTW. I would laugh hysterically if TT made a play for Wilkerson ($12 million anyone?) or Von Miller, i.e., any elite big $ front 7 guy.

This draft is rich in OL, DL, and OLB. Take BPA of those in Rd. 1, rinse, repeat in Rd 2. Better to get a good player than to put a band aid on each position of need. Maybe TT will spring for a FA, maybe Bennett gets cut. Gresham? I do not see buying a WR - we can get by at WR if someone other than Nelson gets hurt. Roll the dice there. I have not looked at individuals in the draft yet, other than to get a general sense of the positional strengths.

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croatpackfan's picture

December 24, 2015 at 04:51 am

I think you are to much critical about David Bakhtiari. Yes, he is commiting penalties, but others from OL do the same. Josh, Brian, even Corey and J. C., T.J. But you obviously forgetting that David is at the position to face elite pass rusher almost every game. He is not excellent, but very good LT. Lot of franchises would like to have. Stop make estimation by your personal like/do not like level. There is the facts (I'm not talking about PFF comedians!) that told us different story that you are trying to impose...

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 08:53 am

After the last few games, I hope the warm and hopefully dry conditions make a difference on O. Most of all I hope we play 4 solid quarters of football. Or at least 3.

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Bearmeat's picture

December 23, 2015 at 08:55 am

I think that's an awful lot to hope for. When is the last time this team played 3 strong quarters in a row? The Vikings game. And maybe the Seahawks all the way back in September.

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keeley2's picture

December 23, 2015 at 09:25 am

No time like right now to do it again!

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croatpackfan's picture

December 23, 2015 at 09:52 am

And they will do enough to win that game!

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murphy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 12:15 pm

yes.

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murphy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 01:58 pm

yes.

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Curry Rambeau's picture

December 23, 2015 at 04:44 pm

Maybe yes. Maybe no. I'll go with YES!

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Bearmeat's picture

December 23, 2015 at 05:07 pm

And the sewerization of CHTV comment boards continue. I remember when there used to be intelligent comments by all involved here. :(

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Bearmeat's picture

December 23, 2015 at 08:01 pm

Must....Not....Feed....The...Bovine....

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 23, 2015 at 09:56 am

Some nice weather would be a nice change.

Good thing is they are now experienced and ready to play in poor weather conditions. Perfect for the playoffs.

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EdsLaces's picture

December 23, 2015 at 10:33 am

I got this one as a loss then a win against Vikes to win division.....I'd be ok with winning them both though.

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ray nichkee's picture

December 23, 2015 at 12:53 pm

Im not going to post AZ whole shedule but i looked at it. It didnt impress me that much. The stats do. What does MM say about stats? They are a complete team that can air it out. The secondary took a hit last week. Hopefully that will open some holes. Minnesota held up to them really good. Philly moved the ball on them good too but shot themselves in the foot with turnovers and mistakes. The only thing i see as a major advantage is the AZ passing game. Im not scared but all i want is a close game. That will tell us they can hang with the big boys.

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Curry Rambeau's picture

December 23, 2015 at 01:16 pm

Hang with the big boys? That's a low bar. I think the Packers match up well with Arizona. If Mike let's Janis,Quarless and Abby play plus give Lacy 20 carries, the Pack can win this one! Division Champ plus a 12-4 would be a big boy position for the regular season going into the playoffs. Blocking, tackling and turnovers will decide this game.

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ILPackerBacker's picture

December 23, 2015 at 01:36 pm

It is not a sad coincidence that reaction to Adams and Boykin is identical. Anyone watching Boykin on special teams knew he had no chance.

The talent level on the team has not declined the record reflects that Rodgers is merely playing as the best QB in the league this year instead of the best QB of all time.

The play calling has been a major disaster. Who can forget leaving our RT one on one versus a top pass rusher and NOT RUNNING ONCE toward that pass rusher until the 4th quarter? A total failure to force the pass rusher to defend the run and a total failure to let OL establish themselves.

From the initial bear game till now when nobody could ignore it, the average at best, OL play. There is a letter grade per OLman premium that rodgers adds to each of them that is/was ignored. The bears and each of the following teams trashed our OL but because of the stat line most gave credit where it did not belong, to the OL. that kind of dismissed how great Rodgers really is

the reality is, that like the pathetic colts after manning and pre-luck are a bad team with talent level. At no point outside the packer fan base has Cobb been a real # 1 wr. Draft status and not production rule playing time. The fact is we lost a pro bowl center who was getting a home town premium to stay because he was still angry over a draft choice who sucked being promoted over him. With out a now adequate S who now really plays LB at a good level getting hurt his rookie year we would not have had a super bowl win. We let Woodson go for who????? We let jenkins go for who???? the talent level on this team without Rodgers is 2-4 wins a year. And that is with superior coaching.

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C's picture

December 23, 2015 at 01:39 pm

I hear you, man. It's like when Captain Crunch parked the snarfflewater and Tracey White tackled the dish before it ran away with the spoon.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 02:38 pm

No but the level of performance has nosedived.

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Mojo's picture

December 23, 2015 at 02:45 pm

No one new on IR. It's a good day.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 03:04 pm

MM quote today:

“This is a very balanced football team. Our offense can beat you, our defense can beat you, and our special teams can definitely make an impact. I don’t know if I could have stood up here and said that in the past.”

Is he really talking about the Packers? Maybe he sees something we don't. Will be an interesting game this week that's for sure because now I really don't have a clue what to expect other than Adams playing a lot.

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4thand1's picture

December 23, 2015 at 03:20 pm

Maybe he's talking about practice. Practice? Did you say practice? Give me a guy who preforms on the field during a real game. They hold back to long with guys that are better than the product on the field. Abby needs to start at #2 behind Cobb.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 03:24 pm

Let's hope he does this week.

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John Galt III's picture

December 23, 2015 at 06:09 pm

The Broncos are not the team that beat us. We can beat them.

Not one team in the NFL scares me at all. They can all be beat, even Carolina. A very mediocre Giant team almost did. Who Is left: Seattle - we beat them, Pittsburgh?, New England - they are very beat up and the Eagles beat them, KC?, MN?

Sorry, we may not win the SB, but there is not a team in the NFL we can not beat. That is a fact. If the team knows this, the coaches know this that is ALL that matters. Then execute is the answer and we can.

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LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

December 23, 2015 at 07:28 pm

Cow, Here's how I see it.

GB would Shred NE

PITT won't beat NE

SEA wont beat AZ

AZ & SEA won't beat CAR

GB beats them ALL!! CAR IN A NAIL BITER!! for the SB

LVT

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Tundraboy's picture

December 23, 2015 at 06:48 pm

If we execute, each and every game. Don't know if we have it in us this year. But like your outlook.

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4thand1's picture

December 23, 2015 at 07:00 pm

So all the talk about how the regular season doesn't matter. OK, the Packers are not playing lights out and won 10 games. The playoffs are comin and this team will play its best football then. Every team the Packers play comes with their A game all season long. 7 straight years is a long time to make the playoffs. They'll know what to do. Not like the arm chair doubters that have them falling flat on their faces. In all reality this has been a fun, great season so far. If the Pack can win this much playing poorly, all they need is average to above average to go deep. When they play lights out..........SB50!
GOPACKGO.

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LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

December 23, 2015 at 07:15 pm

4thand1, I'm with you. What good does it do, to play Lights Out 2 weeks ago.LVT

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