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Around the NFC North – Week 15

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Around the NFC North – Week 15

Chicago Bears

In the game of the year so far this season for the Bears, they hosted the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football with quarterback Mitch Trubisky back under center.  They certainly didn’t disappoint.

In a defensive battle that had the Rams and Bears trading first-half field goals for a 6-6 tie at the half, a Bears safety early in the third quarter and a Trubisky touchdown pass shortly thereafter put the game out of reach at 15-6.  That is where the game ended up, moving the Bears to an unexpected 9-4 record on the season.

But even with their second-year quarterback back in the lineup, the Bears won this game on the defensive side of the ball.  Here, they held the high-powered Rams offense in check the entire game.  Quarterback Jared Goff was held to a meager 20 completions on 44 attempts for 180 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions on the day.  On the ground, running back Todd Gurley only managed 28 yards on 11 carries on the evening.

The effort in beating the Rams continued the Bears campaign to prove that they are a team to be reckoned with in the NFC this season.  Currently holding the third seed in the NFC playoff picture at one game ahead of the Dallas Cowboy and two games behind the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, the Bears will be looking to finish strong when they host the Packers this Sunday, travel to take on the San Francisco 49ers the following week and then traveling to take on the Minnesota Vikings in the season finale.

Minnesota Vikings

On Monday Night Football, the Vikings traveled west to take on the Seattle Seahawks with the winner taking a commanding lead in the NFC Wild Card standings.  With the stakes high and the Vikings coming off of two previous losses in a row, the Vikings offense continued their struggles in Seattle in extremely ugly fashion.

In a game that was led by the Seahawks 3-0 at halftime and 6-0 just a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter, the Vikings were still clinging to life as their defense was able to limit Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense for most of the game.  The tides turned for the Vikings on two straight drives in the fourth quarter when they couldn’t capitalize on a 4th & goal situation near the Seahawks end zone and then had a field goal blocked on the subsequent drive with just under six minutes remaining.  The Seahawks proceeded to drive downfield after the blocked kick to score and go up 14-0 and then recovered a fumble on the ensuing Vikings drive and return it for a touchdown to go up 21-0.  A garbage time touchdown following the quick melee put the game at the final score of 21-7 in favor of the Seahawks.

The loss dropped the Vikings to 6-6-1 on the year but still has them slotted as the 6th seed in the NFC playoff picture and still in control of their own destiny.  But the 208-yard passing effort with a 26.7 quarterback rating from Kirk Cousins was extremely concerning for the Vikings faithful and prompted a Tuesday firing of offensive coordinator John DeFilippo.  The big questions now loom on whether the Vikings can right the ship and hold steady over the final weeks of the season or if they’ll continue choking their playoff hopes away.  They finish the season by hosting the Miami Dolphins this weekend, traveling to Detroit to face the Lions the following week and then ending at home against the Chicago Bears.

Detroit Lions

The Lions improved to 5-8 on the season with a 17-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals in Phoenix this past Sunday.  The snoozer of a game had the Lions up on the Cardinals 3-0 at halftime with both offenses struggling mightily.  In the third quarter, savvy veteran cornerback Darius Slay intercepted a Drew Rosen pass and took it to the end zone for the first touchdown of the game, putting the Lions up 10-0.

After the Cardinals pulled within 10-3 with a fourth-quarter field goal, Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led the offense downfield for a game-clinching touchdown run by running back Zach Zenner with just over four minutes remaining in the contest.  In the win, it became obviously clear that Stafford was missing traded wide receiver Golden Tate and the injured wide receiver Marvin Jones.  In the effort, Stafford only threw for 101 yards on the day and the running back duo of LeGarrette Blount and Zenner shouldered most of the workload on the ground for the Lions.

After finally getting a win and breaking an ugly streak of losing five of their previous six games, the Lions will look to finish the season strong as they travel to Buffalo this weekend to take on the Bills.  The final two weeks of the season have the Lions hosting the Minnesota Vikings and then traveling to Lambeau Field to take on the Packers to end the season.



Ryan Brunner is an avid Packers fan hailing from Chippewa Falls, WI.  He is a firm believer that punters are NFL players too!  Follow him on Twitter @brunwardo

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Lphill's picture

the Bears defense is very good but I believe that the cold affected Goff more than anything and that wont be the case with Rodgers, I know the Bears want payback but Rodgers seems to play well in Chicago. I don't know how this game will turn out but should be fun to watch.

CheesyTex's picture

There is always hope, but...

Can the Packers OL, with all the injuries, hold up against a defense playing as strong as the Bears?

Will all the injuries on D allow even Trubisky & Co. to look good?

If the Pack can pull this one out, Philbin's stock will rise a bunch.

pacman's picture

Beating the Bears is all this season has left - even if they make the playoffs (unless of course somehow they get to the SB).

dobber's picture

I don't think Zimmer is losing his job after this season, but this Vikings team--with all the preseason hype--is circling the drain. If they go 1-2 over their remaining games, it's very possible they miss out. He'll be squarely on the hot seat in 2019 if they miss the playoffs or make a WC round exit.

Lare's picture

Would be a huge win if the Packers can beat the Bears in Chicago, but I just don't see it happening. Too weak of an OL, too many injuries and one too many Zooks coaching Special Teams.

Bearmeat's picture

This is what I'm saying to the Vikings right now:

ricky's picture

Two comments about the Minny/Seattle game. First, when the FG was blocked, it should have been a penalty on the DLman who clocked it because he used other players to leap over the line to make a block. It was a judgement call, and as with the "Fail Mary", the refs blew it. Second, late in the game the Seahawks were very close to the Vikes goal line, and on third down, faked a dive into the line, rolled Wilson out as he then threw for a TD. Pete Carroll probably wishes he'd done that in the SB against the Pats.

PAPackerbacker's picture

If the upcoming game was played in Green Bay instead of Chicago the Packers would have a much better chance at a win. But in Chicago and with a banged up OL I think Rodgers will be running for his life. Unless Green Bay goes to a short passing game with a 3 step drop Chicago will put an enormous amount of pressure on Rodgers. Get Aaron Jones involved early and often to slow down that Chicago pass rush or it's going to be a long day for Rodgers. Running right at that aggressive defense just may open up some short passing lanes. The Packers need to establish the run to be successful in the passing game. If they can't do that then they will have to go with short passes. Holding the ball for longer pass routes will end up seeing Rodgers get sacked many times.

Tundraboy's picture

And if they don't, turnovers. When they cause them they win , if they give them up It's a much harder road. Battle of the turnovers and TOP. With the coaching change we might even have an advantage. Go PACK Go.

Inman.brian19's picture

I don’t expect Aaron Rodgers and his Packers team to be in the playoffs this season. But it’s gonna be a tough game of the packers vs. bears at Chicago on Sunday December 16th. Packers need to make lots of changes in offseason 2019 if they are able to go the postseason next season. But my predictions for a few Sunday night football games prime time nbc for the Packers next year will be Packers vs. Vikings at Lambeau Field, Packers vs. Bears at Lambeau Field and Packers vs. Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. I really hope those games of the Packers next season be on Sunday night football NBC.

Hematite's picture

My Christmas wish is that the Packers would never have to play a night game ever again.

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