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Around the NFC North - Week 9

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Around the NFC North - Week 9


As the Green Bay Packers return from their bye week, hopefully more healed and focused, two NFC North teams head off to their own. The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings will both take a week off, which makes the Detriot Lions the only other team in the division with a game. 

It also just so happens that the Lions play the Packers on Monday night.

As always, we'll give you the break down on all three other NFC North teams, though as the Monday Night Football game will be well broken down all over the site, we won't belabor that game and will focus more on the news.

Detroit Lions

Injuries to the offensive line have made life much tougher for the offense, particularly Matt Stafford. Greg Robinson and Brian Mihalik have both stepped in for injured left tackle Taylor Decker, if by 'stepped in' you mean 'took up space' rather than 'pass blocked.' Decker practiced today, and looks to be on track to return at some point over the next month. Former Packer Don Barclay was signed on Halloween as a stopgap measure, and perhaps to give the Lions some insight into the Packers offense, though that sort of thing is usually overblown in the media.

It's not like the Lions haven't seen Green Bay before, and with Brett Hundley under center, not Aaron Rodgers, what Barclay knows of the offense might not apply.

The wide receivers are another problem area for Detroit, as Golden Tate still isn't 100 percent and Kenny Golladay never seems healthy. Marvin Jones is certainly earning every sent they paid him, though, and he has to considering nobody else is stepping up in the passing offense.

Last week Stafford was able to move the ball up and down the field, but the offense stalled whenever the team reached the red zone, including what could have been a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter which ended inside the 10-yard line.

Interesting side note: Two teams approached the Lions about trading for the rights to Calvin Johnson. As fun as it is to think of Megatron back in the NFL, what use could he be after being out for so long and having to learn a new offense?

Chicago Bears

A few teams apparently called to see if the Bears wanted to trade left guard Josh Sitton. It clearly didn't happen, and it's hard to imagine the Bears took it seriously even though Sitton is old and a little expensive. Why would you weaken an offensive line in front of your rookie quarterback?

The Bears are clearly rebuilding, but they've had more than a few solid wins this year. If Mitch Trubisky continues to improve — and they get him a couple of weapons — they could be turning a corner soon.

In more serious news, we've all likely heard about tight end Zach Miller's surprising turn of events and battles in surgery. In case you missed it, Miller left the Saints-Bears game with a dislocated knee.

And that's when it got wierd.

ESPN's Chris Mortenson suddenly reported on Monday that surgeons were performing "urgent vascular surgery" to repair arterial damage to his knee.  Adam Schefter put it bluntly — they were trying to save Miller's leg, not just his career. 

It's fun to rip on the Bears around here, but nobody really wishes ill on opposing teams (and if you do, I recommend therapy or a walk outside). At this time, the Bears have said that doctors are optimistic they've saved the leg and the next 48 hours or so will tell them more. I'm sure everyone here wishes him the best of luck as he returns to health, football or no.

The Bears are clearly rebuilding, but they've had more than a few solid wins this year. If Mitch Trubisky continues to improve — and they get him a couple of weapons — they could be turning a corner soon.

Minnesota Vikings

As they head into the bye week, the Vikings feel like a team which is hard to get a read on despite a division leading 6-2 record. The defense is playing pretty well, the offensive line is improved and they've won four in a row. The offense has been able to shift between winning on the ground one week and through the air another, despite Case Keenum being generally uninspiring. 

Their record could be the result of a soft spot in their schedule. The Bears are rebuilding and inconsistent, the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers at the start of their Week 6 meeting, and they punched down on the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.

So how good is this team, really? We have a week to ponder that while they take a break, and then they travel to DC and face Washington and then face the surprisingly good Los Angeles Rams in Minnesota.

The X-Factor? Teddy Bridgewater, who could be under center when the team returns from the bye.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (6) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Bearmeat's picture

The Vikings have a very good defense and an average offense. They are the most well rounded and mediocre team of an awful division without ARod.

The Lions have no OL, despite overpaying an aging Lang. The Lions defense relies on turnovers and can't get stops and they have no running game and no WR threat outside of Jones.

The Bears front 7 is stout, but the rest of their team is not good at all.

The Packers defense is putrid and has been for too long. Their offense has no speed on the perimeter that they can trust. The running game looks frisky.

Without ARod, there will be only 1 playoff team from this division, and that team will lose in the wild card round.

Red Foreman's picture

Wow, someone needs to take a college level grammar class. I have never seen so many misused commas and run-on sentences. Your content was pretty good though.

dobber's picture

Detroit is the new Minnesota for Packers castoffs.

TXCHEESE's picture

No way Teddy plays coming out of the bye, unless Keenum goes down and Bradford is still out. The man hasn't played competitive football in almost 22 months. I think they'll ride Keenum as long as they can (if it ain't broke don't fix it), and go to Bradford if he falters.

dobber's picture

Agreed. This is Dak 1.1 (not 2.0 because, frankly, Keenum isn't that good). Imagine being Zimmer and benching Keenum for Bridgewater or Bradford and they lose that first game out of the bye.

But then, it's hockey season so how many Minnesota fans are really still paying attention?

CJ Bauckham's picture

Megatron doesn't need to learn a new offense. He just has to run down the field and tell the qb to throw the ball 12 ft in the air

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