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Around the NFC North - Week 13

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Around the NFC North - Week 13

Last week might have felt better if the ball had bounced Green Bay's way during their surprising game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. While yes, the Panthers, Falcons and Seahawks — teams ahead of Green Bay in the Wild Card race — all won, the Lions didn't and the Vikings play Atlanta this week, which means there's a chance they could lose a game while the Packers pick one up by beating a struggling Tampa Bay team.

There's a lot going on and the season both feels like and is on the brink, but the Packers aren't dead yet.

They just need some help.

Vikings at Falcons

There's zero reason for the Vikings to move from Case Keenum to Teddy Bridgewater right now and who ever thought that would be a sentence someone typed as anything but a joke. 

But it's reality, and Keenum has been playing well. Because he is who he is, it always feels like the wheels are about to come off and he'll wake up and realize he's Case Keenum but that doesn't mean it will happen. On the other hand, Mike Zimmer isn't committing to Keenum past this week and if we've learned anything in the last few days it's that coaches like to shoot themselves in the foot and also are their own worst enemies (for an example, see McAdoo, Ben).

The Vikings defense will be key to this game more than anything else. Devonta Freeman has cleared concussion protocol, so the Vikings will be faced with the one-two punch of Freeman and Tevin Coleman as well as the monumental task of containing Julio Jones. In reality, Jones has been contained a lot this year — last week was only the third 100+ yard week this year and he scored just his second and third touchdowns on the season — and it remains to be seen if his 12 catch, 253 yard and two touchdown day is a return to normal or an abberration for the year.

Not that anyone expects 253 yards again, but you get my point. He looked dominant but does it continue.

If the defense spends too much time on their heels and the offense needs to play catchup, the Vikings could be in trouble. Atlanta's defense still struggles at times, especially on the ground. Football Outsiders has them as the No. 26, but that's mostly because they have them as the 32nd best run defense. The Falcons actually defende the pass relatively well and if Keenum has to throw from behind, the Vikings could have some issues.

This should be a good game to watch (assuming you don't happen to loathe one or both teams) and is likely to come down to the last few plays of the game. Home field might weigh in as well. In Minneapolis the Vikings would have a strong home crowd, but on the road, in Atlanta? I think that shifts things a little to the Falcons.

49ers at Bears

If you can avoid this game, do. It's not so much that it's the Bears as it is that these two teams are brutal right now. Although....getting to see Gentleman Jimmy Garropolo start a game for San Francisco could be worth the price of admission. The Bears are on a four game skid, while the Niners have only lost one in a row.

It's not really all that relevant. These are two rebuilding teams. Save your Pepto Bismol for a more important game — this will just make you nauseaus. 

Lions at Ravens

The Lions' loss to Minnesota on Thanksgiving, while expected, still probably felt like a gut punch for Lions fans. Now three games back from the division lead and on the outside looking in for a Wild Card spot, the Lions need almost as much help as the Packers do.

Matt Stafford is banged up, dealing with a right ankle issue he swears is fine. He missed on a lot of throws against Minnesota, ones he should have made and while the ankle factored in late, it was no excuse for earlier struggles. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are playing well, so there is really no excuse for Stafford biffing throws. The Ravens defense will make him pay for that. Ranked first in FO's DVOA ratings, Baltimore is dangerous against the pass and can force three and outs.

If they do that, then the Lions defense will be gassed.

And that's a defense which struggled against Minnesota. Luckily for them, the Ravens offense isn't a potent as the Vikings' is which should tell you all you need to know about the Baltimore offense (although the Vikings offense has been shockingly potent in general this year). If the Lions can force Joe Flacco to make a lot of passes, it will play into their favor. Detroit struggles against the run, though, and Baltimore can move the rock on the ground.

This feels like a game Detroit should win, but Baltimore isn't the cream puff they were earlier in the year and certainly not as bad as the Bears or Browns were when the Lions beat them recently. They're better than the Packers too.

That will be trouble for the Lions.


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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (17) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Defensive coordinator...Replace Dom Capers Now!!!

1. John Butler (Texans DBs coach): Mike Vrabel’s promotion to defensive coordinator could put Butler next on the list of coordinators-to-be in Houston. Bill O’Brien said last year that Butler has a future as both a coordinator and, eventually, a head coach in the NFL.

2. Perry Fewell (Jaguars DBs coach): He took his knocks as the Giants’ defensive coordinator and eventually was dismissed, but he also helped bring a Super Bowl title back to the Big Apple. While Fewell wouldn’t be a sexy hire for an expansion club, there is something to be said for finding a steady hand to help a new franchise.

3. Adam Zimmer (Vikings linebackers coach): Zimmer is just 33 years old, so he’s a bit of a “wild card” in his own right. That said, he’s been an assistant in the league since 2006 and has spent the past four years on his dad’s staff, where he’s helped oversee impressive development from the likes of Anthony Barr.

Wild card: Mike Pettine (ex-Browns head coach, Bills/Jets coordinator): Pettine’s defenses ranked top 10 in yards allowed all five seasons he served as a defensive coordinator. He’s bound to get another shot to run a defense in the league.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

Fire Capers Now!!!

Finwiz's picture

I'll go way outside the box and say Jim Leonhard of the WI Badgers should be a serious candidate.
He's working magic in Madison.

dobber's picture

Could you cite where you got this from?

Doug Niemczynski's picture

I googled potential 2018 nfl coaches...thats all i remember .sorry

freddisch's picture

Jim Leonherd. UW defensive coordinator should replace Capers

Bearmeat's picture

The Lions suck. The Bears are worse. And screw anything purple. Any self respecting football team should not wear purple as its main color.

Rebecca's picture

Yes, what kind of girlie-men are they to dare to ware purple?

Bearmeat's picture

First of all it's *wear* in the context you used the word in. Second, 'twas nothing but a joke. Relax.

.... What I'm not joking about is that I hate the Vikings. :D

Razer's picture

At this point we want the Vikings to beat Atlanta and anyone else who might contest for a playoff spot (other than us). We need teams to beat Carolina, Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit. If, in the process, someone breaks Anthony Barr's face so much the better.

As a Packer fan, I just can't give up. I know that the chances are slim but we have heart and that is enough for me. In any event, I want the team to play hard, ala Pittsburgh, and we will see where the chips fall.

Wouldn't it be sweet to meet the Vikings in the playoffs and destroy them at home. Without Rodgers revenge is my fuel.

Mojo's picture

I had this horrible nightmare last night.

It was February 4, 2018 and the all anyone could talk about was how unique it was the Vikings were in the SB playing in their own backyard. Getting rewarded for taking out apparently 90% of our team with one tackle.

That's why I'm becoming an Eagles fan for the remainder of the year. Any team but that abomination from U.S. Bank Stadium (the glass from that building is killing innocent birds).

Spock's picture

Mojo, I would of "liked" your comment until you said you were becoming an Eagles fan for the rest of the season. I will stay a Packers (and ONLY Packers) fan as always. I agree with your sentiment about the Vikings, but I refuse to root for another team. How anyone can "switch" their allegiance to another team because of an injury to "your" team's QB1 is beyond me. That's just not in my DNA.

Mojo's picture

Let me clarify. I'm not a fan of any team except GB. However, if it comes down to Philly V. Minny, I'm rooting for the Eagles.

Once their teams out of it, I think most fans, with at least a casual interest will pick one team over another. It becomes more of who you don't want to win it than who you do. I figure Philly provides the best chance of keeping Minnesota out.

Razer's picture

...the glass from that building is killing innocent birds...

I am crying in my beer - from laughter. The Vikings are the worse kind of bird killer. Justice must be served.

HankScorpio's picture

The Vikings will always find a way to lose in the end.

Doug Niemczynski's picture

And so do the Packers!!!

HankScorpio's picture

In case you haven't heard, the Packers' trophy case has more trophies than any NFL team. The Vikings' trophy case is empty.

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"The Bears still suck!"
"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
"A school without football is in danger of deteriorating into a medieval study hall. "