Who Will Win the NFC North?
The NFC North is a division in shambles. It is down to the Detroit Lions, the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Currently, the Bears have the best record at 8-6. Green Bay is in second at 7-6-1. Detroit is third at 7-7. What makes this so intriguing is that each of the three remaining teams has a glaring flaw. It will make for exciting football the last two weeks of the season.
Chicago finally got Jay Cutler back this past Sunday when they beat the Cleveland Browns. Cutler has shown progress in head coach Marc Trestman’s system. They have two excellent receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Matt Forte is one of the best running backs in the NFL. The problem with this team is that their defense, particularly against the run is atrocious.
The Green Bay Packers have somehow stayed in the race despite losing Aaron Rodgers for the second half of the season. Matt Flynn has played well these last few weeks in order to keep them alive. They need to hope that Rodgers comes back because he will have to bail out a mediocre defense.
The Detroit Lions are the Dallas Cowboys of the NFC North. It is their maddening mental lapses that have cost them football games. They have committed way too many penalties and turnovers in the last several games. Matthew Stafford has thrown debilitating interceptions. Calvin Johnson has dropped passes. Reggie Bush has fumbled in key moments. They have the most talent in this division, but their questionable leadership has put them in quite the bind.
Chicago has to play the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday Night Football this weekend. Green Bay has a tough matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Lions are facing the disaster known as the New York Giants. If both Chicago and Green Bay win this weekend, Detroit is eliminated. Detroit has to win their last two games and needs to hope that the other two teams lose at least one game. That is Detroit’s only hope of making the playoffs.
Detroit will play the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17, Chicago and Green Bay play each other. In theory, Detroit should be able to win both games. Detroit has the easiest schedule, but I have little faith in them to play to their potential. The other two teams have a harder road to the division crown. It may come down to whether Rodgers comes back this weekend.
Rodgers would make all the difference in the world to Green Bay. He has helped mask a lot of the flaws on the roster that General Manager Ted Thompson has assembled. I wouldn’t count out any of these three teams. However, Green Bay should win the division if Rodgers is able to play.