The NFC North was put in the spotlight this week after the Bears made it a three-way tie for the division on Monday. Packers’ fans are holding their breath about their star QB, Lions fans are salivating at another chance at the Bears in Week 10, and the Vikings may have found their quarterback for now, but it’s safe to say they’re out of the division race for good. Okay, okay….but what’s it all mean for the NFC North and the Bears?
NFC North Standings
Detroit Lions: 5-3 (2-1 in division)
Chicago Bears: 5-3 (2-1 in division)
Green Bay Packers: 5-3 (2-1 in division)
Minnesota Vikings: 1-7 (0-3 in division)
Green Bay Packers
In a twisted turn of events, the Monday Night Football match up was a battle of the backups between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. As the Bears put together an amazing final drive to end the game, the Packers didn’t have enough time to tie the game resulting in a 27-20 loss.
Packers’ fans got sick to their stomach early in the Monday night match up as Shea McClellin slammed down quarterback Aaron Rodgers and he did not return. Reports say that Rodgers fractured his collarbone and that there is no time table to his return. It truly depends on how bad the fracture is. Seneca Wallace was Rodgers’ replacement last night, and lost the battle of backup quarterbacks. Wallace throwing abilities are certainly in question, and let the offense run through the run game and Eddie Lacy. The Packers are praying for a speedy recovery from Aaron Rodgers.
Like I said above, the offense was run through Lacy after Aaron Rodgers left the game. It was a weird sight, to see the Packers run an offense through a running back. Nonetheless, Lacy did a tremendous job. He had great vision, ran through many defenders and made it extremely difficult for the Bears to tackle him. Lacy ended the game with 150 rushing yards and a touchdown off of 22 attempts.
Eddie Lacy’s 97 yards after contact were the most by a running back in the NFL this season.
— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) November 5, 2013
The blows keep coming for the Packers defense too. Linebacker Andy Mulumba, linebacker Sam Barrington and offensive guard T.J. Lang all left the game against the Bears and have questionable returns. This makes the Packers linebacker position extremely thin and vulnerable. Clay Matthews isn’t scheduled to return until, at the earliest, Week 11 so Week 10 against the Eagles may be a huge challenge for the defense to overcome all of these injuries.
The Green Bay Packers will host another test in Lambeau next week as they will host Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles at noon on Sunday.
Week 9 was the bye week for the Detroit Lions. Prior to that, the Lions had a last-minute win against the Dallas Cowboys.
The biggest move the Lions made this week was with their active roster. The Lions swapped out Ryan Broyles (going to the IR) for Montell Owens. Owens is returning after being hurt in preseason and is a big part of their special teams.
Nate Burleson practiced on Tuesday morning with the team. Although head coach Jim Schwartz said it was too early to call if Burleson will play on Sunday, it’s something to watch out for and means he will be back shortly.
Rookie Ziggy Ansah may be nursing an injury as he left the locker room on Tuesday with a walking boot per Dave Birkett. For insurance, the Lions have signed defensive end Austen Lane, who played the last three seasons in Jacksonville.
Ziggy Ansah left the locker room with a walking boot on left ankle, declined comment
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 5, 2013
Lions also released running back Stephen Miller and signed tight end Martell Webb to the practice squad.
Week 10 will be the second meeting between the Bears and Lions. The Bears hope to have Cutler back while the Lions will be fresh to try and get to 2-0 against the Bears this season.
Minnesota couldn’t hold onto this week’s game against the Dallas Cowboys as they lost in the last minute by a score of 27-23.
The Vikings may have lost one of their best weapons for at least a month. Tight end Kyle Rudolph broke his foot on the touchdown pass from Ponder against the Cowboys and could be sidelined for the next month.
Christian Ponder got the nod this week and even the next game already. Ponder and the Vikings came out of the gates with a no huddle offense that seemed be somewhat effective and get Ponder in a rhythm quick. Out of all the Vikings quarterbacks thus far, Ponder looked the most comfortable and showed it this week. He moved the ball around to different receivers and scored a touchdown with his own legs. His big problem is that time and time again is his fragility with the ball when he gets hit. He has to keep possession of it. It’s the second week in a row that he’s lost the ball for a huge turnover.
There will likely be offensive line changes for the Vikings in the future as right tackle Phil Loadholt left Sunday’s game with a concussion. Last week J’Marcus Webb replaced Loadholt but this week it’s looking like there will be two options between Webb and Joe Berger (backup center).
This week the Minnesota Vikings will be featured on Thursday Night Football on NFL Network against Robert Griffin III and the Washington Redskins.
Quick hits for Bears fans
I’ll just start off by saying that Week 9 and Week 10 are easily the most important weeks for the Bears as far as winning the NFC North goes. Week 9 is over with, but Week 10 will still be a huge challenge. With Aaron Rodgers return in question, the NFC North is the Bears for the taking.
Packers: The Packers are a little lost and confused at the moment. They just lost to the Bears in Lambeau for the first time since 2007 and their prized possession is injured. The Bears saw that they can beat these guys at home with the help of the offensive line and beautiful play calling. They should know that they can beat them again at home in Week 17.
Lions: The Lions are coming off a bye, so they will be fresh as opposed to the Bears coming off of a short week. The Bears need to be prepared for a possible different look to their run game including Montell Owens or even Mikel Leshoure. The Lions might look how Lacy torched the Bears and take notes. The offensive line is ready to see Suh again; I’m just not convinced that the defensive line is ready to see Stafford.
Vikings: Good for the Vikings on their QB decision this week, but the loss of Rudolph is huge to Ponder’s success. If Rudolph is out the next time they face the Bears, I could see Ponder looking at Jennings and Patterson even more.