NFC North Week 10 Power Rankings
I was all prepared to move the Packers up until Bryan Bulaga went on Injured Reserve. Then, I was going to keep Chicago in the first spot, until I realized Jay Cutler is likely to miss at least one game, and a tough one at that.
The Lions lost to the Vikings (again) while the Vikings almost looked like the team from a month ago but not quite.
So in the end this division is a big, tangled mess.
I'm going to go all Gordian Knot on this thing and lay it out for you here.
As always, I'm pretty sure everyone will be dissatisfied, but what fun would a list anyone agreed with be?
#4 Detroit Lions
You can tell I think things look grim for the Lions since the helmet is sliding off the page.
It's not the loss that sinks them so much as who they lost to.
Dropping two in the division isn't fatal, save if it's to the same team. Add to it a loss to the Bears an it's hard to fathom the Lions making it back to the postseason.
It's not impossible, but it may require some Karl Roveian math, or immense luck.
Here's the best hope right now (which can change in a second).
The Bears, Packers and Vikings all play each other over the course of the final frame and the Lions play the Packers twice and the Bears once.
They can jump back in the division race if, an only if, they avoid letdowns like the one Sunday.
It's not impossible. It is unlikely.
#3 Minnesota Vikings
Earlier today, Twitter follower Judd Zulgad's Hoodie (oh, it's a real thing) and I were talking about the Vikings having a real shot at wining the division when The Hoodie said he's not going to try and predict the unpredictable Vikings.
"Last year was Manic Depression. This year is Bi-Polar," he Tweeted. "The highs and lows are insane."
That's a perfect description for this group. It's a young team and will play really well and really badly from game to game—even snap to snap sometimes.
But it's undeniable they have talent, even beyond Adrian Peterson.
With pairs of games against the Packers and Bears, the Vikings pretty much hold their fate in their own hands.
It's a toss-up if they'll be able to remain focused enough to grab it, though.
#2 Chicago Bears
It's really close between the Packers and Bears, for whatever comfort that brings Bears fans.
Jay Cutler is a loss, and a bigger one right now than Bryan Bulaga. Bulaga could end up being a bigger deal but as of now, the Packers will be okay. If Cutler is out over the next week or two, it's a real problem.
As much as I believe Jason Campbell, with a week's worth of practice as a starter, is a solid backup, he's not Cutler. As slow as this offense starts out at times, I wonder whether it's going to be worse with a less dynamic player. I also have some real concerns (still) about offensive coordinator Mike Tice, though I'm interested in seeing what he might try with Campbell after a full week of practice.
The defense is the best in the league. The offense is too sporadic right now.
It drops them a little bit, even though the distance between the two teams is not very big and could change again next Monday.
#1 Green Bay Packers
The Packers edge by the Bears, despite the Bryan Bulaga injury and questions about the offensive line depth. Right now, they should be fine. Another injury puts them in serious jeopardy though, as they have little experienced depth behind the starters.
The defense is also banged up, but even without Clay Matthews and Nick Perry, this defense is able to generate some pressure. Of course, the injuries to Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson haven't been a burden with tremendous play from both Randall Cobb and James Jones.
It's what the Packers do. They have a very deep roster at most positions and it allows them to overcome some really big injuries. It worked in 2010, though that will be tough to repeat.
With this latest test of their depth, we'll find out what the Packers are made of. Right now, they may be behind the Bears in the standings, but as long as Cutler is out and the rest of the Green Bay offensive line stays healthy, they are a more well-rounded team that is better able to withstand the coming games.
Cutler means a ton to the Bears and until I know they can win without him (or Green Bay can't play without Bulaga), the Packers will be in this top spot.
Although in this division, we all know how tenuous that is.
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