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NFC North: Week 13 Preview and Predictions

Right when I thought the Green Bay Packers had the NFC North figured out, they go and get stomped by the New York Giants last week. The Bears are once again the driver’s seat for the NFC North as their schedule gets much easier from here on out. Perhaps no team got punched in the mouth harder than the Detroit Lions last week, losing a close one to the Packers 24-20 on Sunday and then losing 34-31 to the Texans in OT that same Thursday. It’s pretty darn hard to bounce back from two grueling losses in a week. And then there’s the Vikings in total free fall yet with a 6-5 record. The Bears should be able to seize this division and win it now, but stranger things have happened. Let’s take a look at the Week 13 action in the NFC North.

Seattle Seahawks (+3) at Chicago Bears, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

Yes, Seattle has a great defense, and so do the Bears. It’s easy to picture this one being close at the end, but there’s no way the Seahawks win here. They are 5-0 at home and 1-5 on the road, as stark of a contrast as you’re likely to find in the NFL. The Bears, on the other hand, are adept at grinding out wins at home with their running game and Brandon Marshall acting as a classic possession receiver. Marshall is the first Bear since Marty Booker in 2002 to amass 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and he could have a monster game here.

“We’re going to have to roll with the guys we have and see what we have, lean on our defense as we have before, run the ball well,” Cutler said. “Be efficient through the air. See how far we go.”

Chicago has forced 33 turnovers thus far this season, and I would look for the trend to continue here. Take the Bears at -3 all day.

Indianapolis Colts (+6) at Detroit Lions, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Colts, surprisingly, are making a strong push for a wild card spot in the playoffs. The Lions are trending ever-further downward, particularly after their two-loss week at the end of November. The Colts recipe is simple: sling the ball with Andrew Luck and score just enough to win.  “We’re the type of team, we’re going to be in a lot of close games and fortunately we’ve found a lot of ways to win them,” said interim Colts coach Bruce Arians. “The big thing for us is to go on the road and protect the football and play good defense and bring those special teams with us on the road and see if we can play our best football on the road.”

The Lions seem completely deflated after their past several brutal losses, and despite the sensational play of Calvin Johnson and running back Mikel Leshoure, it just doesn’t seem like they will have what it takes to bring down this Colts team. The Colts aren’t inherently better than the Lions, but they do have momentum on their side, and that counts for something. Take the Colts at +6 here. I think they win outright.

Minnesota Vikings (+10) at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Packers got shockingly whooped by the Giants last week, but look to bounce back against the slumping Vikings.”You win five in a row and everyone is happy, but like I said last year, there are things that go under the radar that need to be handled,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Sometimes it takes a loss. … We need to remember this feeling and not have this kind of embarrassment happen again.”

Ten seems too high, especially since Green Bay’s top run stopper, C.J. Wilson, will be out against Adrian Peterson. Take the Vikings at +10.

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