Don’t look now, but the previously left by the side of the road Green Bay Packers have caught the Chicago Bears in the win column and if the Bears can’t take care of business at the Bay on Monday Night, by virtue of the tiebreaker from their Week 2 win over the Beloved, the Packers will take the lead in the NFC North.
With no thanks to the now 4-6 Lions, the Packers earned their seventh win of the season and fifth in a row following a 2-3 start. The Bears were 4-1 after five games and all appeared to be a sprint to the finish line. The Bears have only lost one game since, their Week 10 loss to the Texans where Jay Cutler was knocked out with a concussion that will keep him on the sidelines when the Bears take on the Niners on Monday night.
Meanwhile, the Packers have sustained their share of injuries, including defensive anchors like Charles Woodson and Clay Matthews and offensive lynch pin Greg Jennings, yet they’re on a 5-game winning streak. It’s reminding me (painfully) of that Super Bowl season the Packers had a couple of years ago.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that the NFC North could very well be decided on December 16th at Soldier Field. Of course there’s a lot that can happen between now and then, especially as we’ve learned here in Chicago. Let’s compare their upcoming schedules the rest of the way.
|12||vs Vikings||@Giants||@ Bears|
|13||vs Seahawks||vs Vikings||@ Packers|
|14||@ Vikings||vs Lions||vs Bears|
|15||vs Packers||@ Bears||@ Rams|
|16||@ Cardinals||vs Titans||@ Texans|
|17||@ Lions||@ Vikings||vs Packers|
The Bears and Packers each have two games remaining with the Vikings and one with the Lions (Bears on the road, Packers get Lions at home) and obviously they play each other again. That leaves two games vs unique opponents. The Bears get the Seahawks at home and visit Arizona for a showdown with the Cardinals.
As for the Packers, they get to visit the Big Apple to take on the defending Super Bowl Champion Giants while hosting the Titans. I’d say those opponents when compared with the Bears’ foes are about a wash. One ultimately winnable game and one more difficult game. For the Bears, the visiting Seahawks will pose a challenge, but they get them at home. Meanwhile the Packers have to travel to New York to face a Giants team coming off a Bye next week.
Let’s not completely dismiss the Vikings in this race. They have four games with the Bears and Packers respectively, so they’ll definitely have a say in the outcome of the North. They’ve come back down to Earth in recent weeks, but they’re only a game behind the Bears and Packers in the win column.
Again, there’s a lot that can happen along the way, but circle December 16th on your calendar for a crucial Soldier Field Showdown for the division title.
What do you think? How does this end up for the Bears? Can they hold the Packers off a bring home the NFC North crown?