NFC North Analysis: Who Will Be the Champs?
With four games left in the NFL season, we can already see where every NFL franchise is going. Whether they are going to be champions of their divisions or not is another question. Hopefully I can sit here and help with that for the NFC North.
In 2007, the Bears were not sure where they were going. They kept switching back between quarterbacks Rex Grossman and Brian Griese. The end result of their season was a 9-7 record and a place at the bottom of the NFC North.
This year, the Bears are in the running for the title of NFC North Champions. Whether they will be champions or not is another question. Here is a look at the games they have played up to this point in the season.
Week One: Bears 29 - Colts 13 W (1-0)
Week Two: Panthers 20 - Bears 17 L (1-1)
Week Three: Buccaneers 27 - Bears 24 L (1-2)
Week Four: Bears 24 - Eagles 20 W (2-2)
Week Five: Bears 34 - Lions 7 W (3-2)
Week Six: Falcons 22 - Bears 20 L (3-3)
Week Seven: Bears 48 - Vikings 41 W (4-3)
Week Eight: BYE
Week Nine: Bears 27 - Lions 23 W (5-3)
Week 10: Titans 21 - Bears 14 L (5-4)
Week 11: Packers 37 - Bears 3 L (5-5)
Week 12: Bears 27 - Rams 3 W (6-5)
Week 13: Vikings 34 - Bears 14 L (6-6)
The end result of the first 13 weeks of football is the Bears are in second place in the NFC North. If they win the rest of their games, they will finish with a 10-6 record. That would be an improvement from last season.
However, let me explain why that wont happen:
Week 14: Jaguars @ Bears
With four games left, the Bears only have two easy ones. The Jaguars game is one of them. However, with the recent decline the Bears seem to be having, perhaps a victory over the Jaguars will not be as easy as it should be.
This game will most likely be a win for Chicago, unless the Jaguars perform good which is a rare thing this season. This will increase the Bears record to 7-6.
Week 15: Saints @ Bears
Here is a tough one. With the way the Bears have suddenly started playing now, whether the close-yet-no-cigar-Saints or the Packers-crushing-Saints show up, this will not be an easy game for Chicago. The Bears will more than likely lose this one. Whether it will be a close one, or by a huge margin, the Bears record goes to 7-7.
Week 16: Packers @ Bears
A Bears-Packers match-up is always hard to predict. Will the Bears destroy the Packers like they did the last time they came to Soldier Field, or will Green Bay crush the Bears again like they already did earlier this season.
Like stated before, the Bears seem to be on a decline, so this will go to the Packers. Chicago Bears record now 7-8.
Week 17: Bears @ Texans
There is only one thing that does not favor the Bears in this one. Home field advantage. All through December the Bears will be at home except for the last week of football. They have to travel all the way down into the South to play the Texans.
Now, the Texans are a confusing team this year. One moment they show promise, the next they show you exactly why you should be picking against them.
For sake of argument, I am picking the Bears over the Texans in this one. Bears record ends at 8-8. Will a 8-8 record win the division. I do not think so.
In 2007, Jon Kitna promised a 10-6 season. Well, he was three games short of that one and led them right into third place in the NFC North. At least last season, the Lions showed some sort of promise.
Not this season. Jon Kitna got injured, which caused Dan Orvlosky to go in. However, that quarterback lost his job the moment he stepped out of bounds in Detroit's own end zone. So, the Lions decided to bring veteran Daunte Culpepper out of retirement. However, right now, they are still at 0-12 record even with Daunte.
Here is a look at the games they have played so far this season.
Week One: Falcons 34 - Lions 21 L (0-1)
Week Two: Packers 48 - Lions 25 L (0-2)
Week Three: 49ers 31 - Lions 13 L (0-3)
Week Four: BYE
Week Five: Bears 34 - Lions 7 L (0-4)
Week Six: Vikings 12 - Lions 10 L (0-5)
Week Seven: Texans 28 - Lions 21 L (0-6)
Week Eight: Redskins 25 - Lions 17 L (0-7)
Week Nine: Bears 27 - Lions 23 L (0-8)
Week 10: Jaguars 38 - Lions 14 L (0-9)
Week 11: Panthers 31 - Lions 22 L (0-10)
Week 12: Buccaneers 38 - Lions 20 L (0-11)
Week 13: Titans 47 - Lions 10 L (0-12)
As you can see, the Lions have not been able to win a single game this season. In Weeks Six, Seven, Nine, and 11, they were close and had a chance to win. The remainder of their games I would say are not exactly hard, however, they are. Even for a good team's standards.
This is why I believe the Lions will more than likely end with a 0-16 record this season:
Week 14: Vikings @ Lions
The only team the Lions got really close to beating is the Vikings. However the Vikings seem to be a different team now. That does not mean the Lions could not pull some out of no where to win. Then again, it is the Lions and even if they showed really good signs of winning, they somehow manage to ruin that too.
Bottom line is, the Lions lose and go to 0-13.
Week 15: Lions @ Colts
Maybe at the beginning of the season I would have said there was a chance the Lions could beat the Colts, but not with the way the Colts are playing now. This should be a blow out victory for Indianapolis.
Week 16: Saints @ Lions
Watching the way the Saints destroyed the Packers, and seeing how they almost beat the Vikings towards the beginning of the season, I am guessing that this game will not be too friendly to the Lions. In short, I do not believe the Lions are going to walk away with a victory here either.
Week 17: Lions @ Packers
Are you kidding me? The Packers are the team to score the most points on the Lions. And last season Green Bay put their second string in and they still destroyed them. Sorry Detroit, I do believe you will have a no win football team this year.
The end of this sad pathetic story for the Detroit Lions is they will finish at 0-16 and be the obvious bottom feeders of the NFC North and the NFL.
Green Bay Packers
In 2007, the Green Bay Packers at the beginning of the season did not have a running game and still found a way to be 7-1 before they found one. That would be due in part to a record breaking quarterback by the name of Brett Favre.
Once Ryan Grant came onto the scene, they also had a running game and ended the season with a 13-3 record at the top of the NFC North. They would go on to lose the NFC Championship game to the would-be Super Bowl Champions.
2008 marked a new era for the Packers, Green Bay, and the rest of the Packers fans. No. 4 would not be starting for them at quarterback anymore. Sixteen seasons with the same quarterback with only one losing season, what else could any football fan ask for from their favorite team?
Well now the Packers are at a 5-7 record and if they lose two more games, it will be the second losing season in the past seventeen years and the second losing season under management of Ted Thompson.
The Aaron Rodgers era has begun, or well more so called the After-Brett Favre-Era. Here is a look at how they fared in their games so far:
Week One: Packers 24 - Vikings 19 W (1-0)
Week Two: Packers 48 - Lions 25 W (2-0)
Week Three: Cowboys 27 - Packers 16 L (2-1)
Week Four: Buccaneers 30 - Packers 21 L (2-2)
Week Five: Falcons 27 - Packers 24 L (2-3)
Week Six: Packers 27 - Seahawks 17 W (3-3)
Week Seven: Packers 34 - Colts 14 W (4-3)
Week Eight: BYE
Week Nine: Titans 19 - Packers 16 L (4-4)
Week 10: Vikings 28 - Packers 27 L (4-5)
Week 11: Packers 37 - Bears 3 W (5-5)
Week 12: Saints 51 - Packers 29 L (5-6)
Week 13: Panthers 35 - Packers 31 L (5-7)
So where do the Packers go from here? Is this a lost season? Perhaps not. We all found out that Aaron Rodgers can in fact play and if anyone is to blame for the record, it is Mike McCarthy's play calling. The rest of their schedule un-like the rest of the NFC North's seems to be a little easy.
Here is why I think Green Bay's December is going to be a Christmas gift to them:
Week 14: Texans @ Packers
The Texans are not a push over team. As a matter of fact they have the same record as the Packers right now. However, looking at the Texans victories this season, they are not that impressive. They beat the Dolphins by one point and they beat the Lions, Bengals, Browns, and Jaguars. The Dolphins are the only team in that group that has a record above .500.
I take the Packers over the Texans in this one. The Packers record improves to 6-7.
Week 15: Packers @ Jaguars
So here is another team the Packers play with a record below .500. This is also a team that just got demolished by the Texans last week. Sorry, but the Jaguars like a lot of other teams in the NFL this year are a disappointment.
Green Bay wins this one too and improves to 7-7.
Week 16: Packers @ Bears
As if this one was not obvious. Each year, the Bears and Packers decide to switch back-and-forth on who is going to win. In 2005, it was the Bears, 2006 Packers, and 2007 obviously the Bears. So now in 2008, Green Bay had already demolished the Bears once this season, can they do it again? I think so.
Record improves to 8-7.
Week 17: Lions @ Packers
Here is the easy one. Merry Christmas Green Bay. The Lions will be wanting to win this game so bad for by this point they should be 0-15. However the Packers will understand that they will need to keep their starters in because there is a chance they could still win the NFC North.
There for the Green Bay Packers end their season with a 9-7 record.
The 2007 Minnesota Vikings looked like they were a team to beat towards the end of the season. Finishing strong with a 8-8 record, with Brett Favre traded away to the Jets, the Vikings looked like the sure winner of the NFC North.
Where are we now? Well with four games left in the season, they are currently 7-5 and are in the lead in the NFC North. However how long will that last? Here is a look at the games they have played so far:
Week One: Packers 24 - Vikings 19 L (0-1)
Week Two: Colts 18 - Vikings 15 L (0-2)
Week Three: Vikings 20 - Panthers 10 W (1-2)
Week Four: Titans 30 - Vikings 17 L (1-3)
Week Five: Vikings 30 - Saints 27 W (2-3)
Week Six: Vikings 12 - Lions 10 W (3-3)
Week Seven: Bears 48 - Vikings 41 L (3-4)
Week Eight: BYE
Week Nine: Vikings 28 - Texans 21 W (4-4)
Week 10: Vikings 28 - Packers 27 W (5-4)
Week 11: Buccaneers 19 - Vikings 13 L (5-5)
Week 12: Vikings 30 - Jaguars 12 W (6-5)
Week 13: Vikings 34 - Bears 14 W (7-5)
So it seems as if the Vikings have picked it up. However the remainder of their schedule after Week 14 does not look so promising. At the beginning of this season, it seemed as if the Vikings were going to be a disappointment. They may still prove to be a disappointment. Here is why:
Week 14: Vikings @ Lions
The only easy game they will have. The Lions are a push over. However considering the Lions almost beat them in their last meeting, perhaps this will be a trap game where the Lions could win.
Better safe-than-sorry, the Vikings win and improve to 8-5.
Week 15: Vikings @ Arizona Cardinals
Here is a little secret for you predictors out there, the only team to beat Arizona at home is the New York Giants who are amazing on the road. As much as you Vikings fans would be hoping for a win here, it does not seem like it will happen.
There for the Vikings will go to 8-6. Still not bad considering by Week 15, Chicago will be 7-7 and Green Bay will be 7-7. Still a game ahead.
Week 16: Falcons @ Vikings
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they also play the Atlanta Falcons who are in a tight race for the NFC South. The Falcons will be trying their hardest to get ahead of both the Buccaneers and the Panthers.
Minnesota loses this one as well making their record 8-7. By this point and time, the Bears would be 7-8, and the Packers would be 8-7.
Week 17: Giants @ Vikings
Even if the Giants clinch their division, they may keep their starters in. And if they do not and put their back ups, the Vikings will more than likely win this game.
But by the end of the season with Green Bay being 9-7 and the Vikings being 9-7, Green Bay wins the tie breaker because they only lost one game in the division where as the Vikings have lost two.
In short, the NFC North Champions will be the Green Bay Packers.
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