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Around the NFC North - Week 14: Playoff Jockeying

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Around the NFC North - Week 14: Playoff Jockeying

The NFC North is still tight, but every week where the Lions are able to keep winning makes the Packers’ job that much harder. Today we take a look at where the three main teams—Green Bay, Detroit and Minnesota—sit in the standings and the schedule they have left.

By the way – the Packers also have to contend with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington for a Wild Card spot. We’re keeping this NFCN-centric, but next week we will probably rope those teams in as well.

Green Bay Packers

At 6-6 the Packers sit at third in the NFCN, though they still have games against all three NFCN teams. They have a tough one against the Seattle Seahawks this week before those three games and if they can find a way to win against Seattle in Lambeau, they are in pretty good shape to perhaps steal the division.

The problem with that is they need help from Detroit’s schedule because they need two games. They can beat Detroit in Week 17 – in fact, the Packers can win the next four games- but that won’t help if Detroit wins three of their next four.

While the Chicago game should be a win, the Vikings game is a tough one to predict. Which Vikings team shows up, both offensively and defensively?

Detroit Lions

At 8-4, the Lions are in a great position to win the division. They need to win three out of the next four games to be sure or have Minnesota and Green Bay lose three out of the next four.

The Lions have a very winnable game this week against Chicago, but it gets real dicey after that. First, they head to New Jersey to take on the New York Giants, a team fighting for a Wild Card spot with a solid defense and some really good—albeit inconsistent as hell—players on offense.

Then it’s off to Dallas to face the dominant Cowboys. It’s hard to imagine them winning that game, and given how inconsistent the Lions have been this year, it wouldn’t be shocking if they dropped both of those road games.

Which could set up a very interesting game in Week 17 against the Packers.

Minnesota Vikings

I haven’t written much about the Vikings so far in this piece, and it’s because of the offense. More specifically, it’s the offensive line.

The 6-6 Vikings might be second in the NFCN, but I don’t expect that to hold.

They have a very nice matchup on the road against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and then see the Indianapolis Colts at home. Both of those games are ones they should win given their defense—but the offense is so vulnerable, and Sam Bradford is so limited that we also wouldn’t be shocked if they dropped both.

They then face Green Bay in Lambeau, and  I don’t expect a repeat of Week 2. The Vikings defense will be a problem for the Packers, but the Packers defense should destroy Bradford and the offensive line. Given the dink and dunk offense the Vikings roll out, the Packers should have no problem containing the Minnesota offense.

The Week 17 game against Chicago then becomes much more critical. Last time they met was the beginning of a long stretch of awful play by the defense. Will they be able to avenge themselves? Or, if things are still tight in the division, will this young defense fold? And can the offense do enough to help the defense?

I don’t think they can, in broad terms, which leads me to feel that the Week 17 game won’t matter all that much by the time it happens.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (8) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Beep's picture

So you're saying there's a chance!

Let's just hope the Packers take care of business going 4-0, because I don't see the Lions going anything less than 2-2 down the stretch.

Handsback's picture

One game at a time, if the Packers can take the Seahawks, then lets see how the remaining schedule plays out. If the Packers lose this week...I'm afraid its done.

dobber's picture

At 8-4 are the Lions that good? Probably not. They're bottom third in total offense and bottom half in total defense. They have no running game. In the end, the Lions are managing to do what they haven't been able to do in past years: they're closing out games without shooting themselves in the foot. They're not turning the ball over. Detroit fits the bill as a "grinder". All that said, they're coming off what is likely their best performance of the year against the Saints, but they're beat up and due for a let-down against the Bears...who actually play some defense. I think the Lions will be lucky to go 2-2 down the stretch and could be poised to go 1-3.

RCPackerFan's picture

It seems as if Seattle is once again standing in our way.

Yesterday McCarthy was asked if this is a rivalry game. This definitely is for the Packers. Since the Fail Mary game it seems like the Seahawks have been in our way in getting to where we want to go.

If they somehow pull out a victory in this game, might this team be destined for great things? We shall see.

Regardless this game means a lot for this team.

Since '61's picture

The problem with the Lions scenario is that by the time they play Dallas the Cowboys may have nothing to play for. If that's the case that becomes a winnable game for the Lions. They could lose to the Giants but that may be their only loss unless they find ways to beat themselves (wouldn't be the first time) or unless Dallas needs that week 16 game. As for the Giants they could lose to both Dallas and Detroit which would give them 6 losses and if we reach 10-6 we beat them head to head and would be ahead of them for the wildcard. But as of now too many teams are in the WC mix to try to figure out how that all would shake out. We need to go for the division and hope the Lions lose at least one more game. For now, one game at a time, beat Seattle. Thanks, Since '61

Samson's picture

Stick a fork in the Vikings.
The Pack has to win out for any post-season.
If the Lions win 10 they're in.
Opinion only.

dobber's picture

This is probably about right, except that a 10-6 Packers team gets the division over a 10-6 Lions team, so 10 wins doesn't guarantee a playoff berth for the Lions. Packers lose, they need the Lions to lose to the Bears...could happen. If not, they need the Lions to lose out and the Packers need to win out. Could happen.

Either way, you like to have some control over your own destiny, and the Packers don't have any. They just need to win games and hope.

dobber's picture

The Lions list a ton of regulars and starters on their injury report this week. They're beat up and due for a let-down. Don't be surprised if the Packers find that they're a little closer to a division title by the time they kick off today thanks to a Bears team that can run the ball and play some defense.

http://www.detroitlions.com/team/injury-report.html

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