Around the NFC North: Week 17

One final look around the NFC North heading into week 17.

Here's one final look around the NFC North head into week 17 of the regular season.

Chicago Bears

The Bears enter week 17 with a disappointing 7-8 record and a meaningless matchup against the Minnesota Vikings.

-That performance on Sunday Night Football against the Chiefs was the sign of a Bears team that has completely given up. There was zero energy or fire at all coming from that team or its 2018 Coach of the Year. After getting pushed around by the Packers with their season on the line, the Bears came out and lay down for the Chiefs in prime time. 

-This week's game against the Vikings holds no meaning for the Bears, other than that 8-8 looks a little better on paper than 7-9. Really, though, this game gives a final scouting opportunity for the organization to see what they have on their hands. General Manager Ryan Pace, head coach Matt Nagy and starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky have all come under fire throughout this season, and rightfully so. The guess here is they'll all be given one more year to prove themselves; it would be unfair for the Bears to hire a new GM for a position in which he wouldn't have a first-round pick. You may as well give Trubisky one more year while he's under contract for cheap (and bring in some veteran competition), and give Nagy one more crack at it as well. But another performance like Sunday Night, and who knows--the Bears might get an itchy trigger finger and say goodbye to any or all of them.

-Beyond those three key individuals, the Bears have plenty of additional questions heading into 2019. Is Khalil Mack still capable of dominating defenses after a disappointing season? The franchise really bogged itself down with his contract, and he has not performed to expectations this year at all. Will the Bears be able to make offensive adjustments necessary going forward to create more balance in their attack, featuring the running backs more? Have the Bears found a long-term answer at receiver next to Allen Robinson? 

For a team whose fanbase pegged them as pre-season champions and the media frequently pushed ass contenders heading into this season, it's been a massively disappointing campaign. Still lacking draft picks, cap wiggle room and a franchise quarterback, the Bears' window may have actually closed on this regime.

Detroit Lions

The Lions enter the final week of the season with a chance to play spoiler against the Packers, who are playing for (at least) a first-round bye.

-The Lions announced within the last week that head coach Matt Patricia would be brought back for a third season. While it's somewhat understandable that he'd get a pass on much of this season given the injury to Matthew Stafford, this also seems to be like a guy who's completely out of his depth as a head coach. The last two decades have had coach after coach come out of the Belichick tree and attempt to install the "Patriot Way" elsewhere, only for it to backfire miserably. Patricia conducts himself with the demeanor of a coach who has accomplished far more than he actually has, and should feel fortunate to get another opportunity, especially when you consider the Lions fired Jim Caldwell after three winning seasons in four years, which was a first since the 1990s.

-The Lions have not won a football game since October 27 against the New York Giants, when Matthew Stafford was still playing. Two months without a win, on their third quarterback and playing with one of the league's worst defenses (under an apparent "defensive guru" at head coach, no less), this might seem like a cakewalk for Green Bay. But divisional games are always funky, and it's been several years since the Packers last won in Detroit. The Packers would be foolish to take this game for granted, even when the Lions seem to be completely dead in the water.

Look, there's not much else to say about the Lions. It's been a wasted season without Stafford for half of it, and the team is just plain bad. But you know darn well they'd love nothing more than to make the Packers' road to the Super Bowl a whole lot more difficult by ensuring they play on Wild Card Weekend.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings were thoroughly embarrassed by the Packers at home under the bright Monday Night lights, 23-10. 

-Woof. What was that offensive performance for the Vikings? The Vikings' offensive line may not be all-world or anything like that, but the performance they put up against the Packers' pass rush was absolutely pitiful and is a major cause for concern, when you consider the Vikings could very well have to play teams with a strong pass rush like the Packers or 49ers in the playoffs. Just shockingly bad.

-Kirk Cousins still has yet to prove he can win a game that's worth much of anything. At times this saeson he has looked like an all-pro, but these are the kinds of games that have defined his career so far, and until he's able to prove that he can excel in these big moments against high-caliber opponents, he will continue to prove that he's not worth the fully guaranteed contract he received from the Vikings. In fact, by getting that fully guaranteed deal and failing to live up to it, he may have actually damaged future players' union negotiations for more fully guaranteed deals.

-That handshake from Mike Zimmer at the end of the game was bush league stuff. You got straight up beat; there was no funny business, no taunting or running up the score. Your team went out and got their assess handed to them along both trenches. Suck it up, shake hands and move on. That moment encapsulated everything the Vikings have been under Mike Zimmer: a team with a paper-thin veneer of toughness that melts away the moment the team faces a challenge from a higher caliber of opponent.

 

And that's a wrap on Around the NFC North. It's great to be the champs again!

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

8 points

Comments (27)

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

December 26, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Perfect final sentence, Tim. Really well done!

Man, has Matt Patrica ballooned up in Detroit. Nothing funny about health complications that accompany obesity, I know, but it looks like he's heading into Charlie Weis / Romeo Crennel territory. Seems the Belichek coaching tree leads makes up for what it lacks in wins with morbid obesity.

And, I've always thought of the Bears as full fledged asses, not merely contenders, regardless of what narrative the media pushes. :)

+ REPLY
6 points
6
0
sonomaca's picture

December 26, 2019 at 12:56 pm

The handshake will clearly motivate the Packers if there is a playoff rematch. Stupid move.

If the Packers were to stumble in Detroit, they could end up as #3 seed, which plays #6 seed Minnesota.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
shmelbs's picture

December 26, 2019 at 06:28 pm

Dangit, I was going to think up an "ass contender" joke. Well done, Leotis!

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
BradHTX's picture

December 27, 2019 at 08:20 am

Me too. I read that and immediately jumped to the comments before even finishing the article, intending to post:

The Bears are always Ass Champions, never Ass Contenders.

Best typo EVER!

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Lphill's picture

December 26, 2019 at 01:29 pm

Looking ahead to next season, the Bears have no trust in their QB or head coach and lack in draft picks, same for the Vikings except they are ok with picks just have cap problems, as for the Lions well they are the Lions, things looking good for the Packers owning the North again.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
mrj007's picture

December 26, 2019 at 03:27 pm

Plus $10 M in cap space with no Jimmy Graham to ruin the Packer offense! An addition by subtraction...

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Since'61's picture

December 26, 2019 at 02:17 pm

A Lions loss and they could get the #2 pick in the draft. Since they need a QB that is what they should be playing for. Thanks, Since '61

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
sonomaca's picture

December 26, 2019 at 03:11 pm

A win could move them down to # 5.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Hematite's picture

December 26, 2019 at 03:45 pm

That could be good for the Packers in the short term but if the Lions do get the#2 pick in the draft and land Joe Burrow, that might be bad for the Packers for a decade.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

December 26, 2019 at 02:22 pm

I’m loving all three division foes seemingly positioned to get worse over the next few years while we look ready to improve.

Unrelated: Did anyone else enjoy the Packs victory formation on Monday. The line I believe was LG-Billy Thompson, LG-Bulaga, C-Linsley, RT-Bak, RG-Jenkins. The first kneel down was equally mixed up. I think they were having a bit of fun.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Pack88's picture

December 26, 2019 at 02:39 pm

I liked the last sentence about Zimmer. I have thought since 2014 he is a punk, he encourages cheap shots and late hits and especially when playing the Packers. I enjoyed watching them get manhandled. Terrell Suggs Jr (55) was exactly what GB needed to shut the Queens up. Also made me smile to Brent wearing a Queens short before the game. Good for his little ego.

+ REPLY
3 points
4
1
lpirlot's picture

December 26, 2019 at 02:56 pm

Yeah, it sure is a shame the Packers didn't trade away their future to get Mack, isn't it.

+ REPLY
8 points
8
0
Lare's picture

December 26, 2019 at 03:11 pm

I'm sure Zimmer's little pouty snit at the end of the game didn't show anyone in the NFL anything they didn't already know.

+ REPLY
4 points
5
1
Lphill's picture

December 26, 2019 at 03:22 pm

I have read and can’t confirm that the Vikings showed Rodgers getting hurt from the Barr tackle up on the jumbo screen , if they did that’s a classless act by a classless organization.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Lare's picture

December 26, 2019 at 04:18 pm

But at least they're consistent.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
keeley2's picture

December 26, 2019 at 09:40 pm

I live in Minneapolis and have to live this crap on a daily basis. The Vikings, like other teams, produce a pre-season "package" hyping the team while hoping to sell more tickets. Guess what clip is included in their "official" video? You guessed it - Anthony Barr taking out Rodgers. Class-less clearly defines this franchise. And Zimmer is the leader of that band.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
mnbadger's picture

December 26, 2019 at 04:22 pm

Zimmer will soon be a classless queens fan, like many, but not all of the rest of them. It's sad when you're an equally bad winner as you are loser, feat he's accomplished.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
mnbadger's picture

December 26, 2019 at 04:23 pm

Zimmer will soon be a classless queens fan, like many, but not all of the rest of them. It's sad when you're an equally bad winner as you are loser, feat he's accomplished.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
albert999's picture

December 26, 2019 at 04:31 pm

Vikqueens won’t win a playoff game and hopefully get beat this Sunday also

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
albert999's picture

December 26, 2019 at 04:32 pm

Zimmer and that organization are classless

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
Lare's picture

December 26, 2019 at 07:05 pm

Had to chuckle when they blew their stupid foghorn every time they made a tackle or got a first down like it's a huge accomplishment for the organization. Wonder if Zimmer is in charge of the foghorn button.

Every other professional sports team (in any sport) would be embarrassed doing something like that.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Chevy572rat's picture

December 26, 2019 at 10:48 pm

Well put Tim, I've always felt that Zimmer has a bad case of "Little Man Syndrome ". But after his post game limp wristed handshake, I see that even at his age, he's not any type of man, pathetic is the type of person he is. Doesn't say much of their owner either, that's why shit runs down hill right from the top of that organization. No class or respect whatsoever.
Go Pack !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
laud111t's picture

January 02, 2020 at 06:58 pm

Great to be champs! GO Pack!!!

Laurel from https://lauderhillcarpetcleaning.com

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
GVPacker's picture

December 27, 2019 at 01:25 am

Awesome articleTim Backes! It may seem cruel but all three of the Packers NFC rivals look like they are imploding even though the Queens have qualified for the tournament LOL! What a difference a year makes. Da Bears were the talk of the town last year under so called "Offensive Guru" Matt Nagy and Mitch Da Bitch T. It now it looks like they may be working at Jiffy Lube in the not too distant future. And to make matters worse Ryan Pace sold the farm to get Mr Mack who was mediocre this year. I always thought Mike Zimmer was a classless jerk and his bush league half hearted hand shake after his team's embarrassing loss at home proved it! The Packers in the playoffs at home in Green Bay Thats Sweet!

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Rossonero's picture

December 27, 2019 at 05:19 am

"...paper-thin veneer of toughness that melts away the moment the team faces a challenge from a higher caliber of opponent."

There's. Your. Dagger. I loved this line.

I also love the fact that the Bears will be in deep shit soon enough. Bears fans were gloating like crazy last season proclaiming that a changing of the guard was happening. Yeah -- then reality set in.

Bring on Detroit. I hope we squash them like bugs.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
GVPacker's picture

December 27, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Mike Zimmer and Matt Nagy as well as Matt Patricia all share a very unique distinction....... They have never defeated a Matt LaFleur coached team!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
lebowski's picture

December 27, 2019 at 05:05 pm

If it had been Rodgers giving Cousins a handshake like that ProFootballTalk would have been all over him all week long. But because it was the coach of that d-bag Florio's favorite team, nada.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.