NFC North: Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Just as predicted, the NFC North is coming down to the Bears and Packers. Neither team has looked like world-beaters in recent weeks, and they both look to get back on track against their much weaker divisional opponents this weekend as the Bears head to Minnesota and Green Bay gets the Lions at home. Both the Bears and Pack are 8-4, tied for first in the division. Their games this weekend could be crucial in deciding who takes this division. Let’s take a look at both matches and make some predictions.

Chicago Bears (-3) at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

Adrian Peterson has been simply fantastic for the Vikings, rattling of six straight 100-yard rushing performances. But it isn’t just that he’s doing that: he’s averaging 157.8 rushing yards per game in that stretch. Last weekend in a loss to the Packers, All Day rushed for 210 yards. “He ran for 210 yards — that’s important — but it’s not as important to him as the fact that we didn’t win the game,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “He’s a total team guy.”

The team lost for a simple reason: the poor play of quarterback Christian Ponder. Now in his second year, Ponder has a lot to prove to keep his starting job, even if the Vikings have faith in him for now. He threw two of the ugliest interceptions you’ll ever see in the end zone in last week’s game against the Pack, pretty much singlehandedly costing his team the game.

“We believe that Christian is our No. 1,” Frazier said. “That being said, if things get to a point where your No. 1 is really costing you some situations that could preclude winning, you do have to do what’s best for the football team.”

The Bears, meanwhile, have lost several defensive players to injuries, and will be without Brian Urlacher in this game. However, the Vikings passing attack is putrid, so Chicago can crowd the line and focus solely on stopping Peterson. With Percy Harvin hitting injured reserve this week, things are only going to get worse for the Vikes from here on out. Take the Bears at -3.

Detroit Lions (+7) at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 8:20 p.m. EST

The Packers, despite winning six out of their last seven games, have looked totally underwhelming as of late. They beat the Vikings 23-14 in a game that the opposing quarterback essentially switched sides and started playing for them, and they allowed Peterson to rush for over 200 yards. Yet they’re 8-4, and with three relatively easy games remaining on their schedule (this one, another against Minnesota and one against Tennessee) the Packers might be able to close out the season at 12-4 and 11-5. However, they shouldn’t necessarily overlook these Lions, who are talented but seem to find crazier and crazier ways to lose every week.

However, if the Lions can get to Rodgers, they could make this a long day for the Pack. The last time these two teams played, Detroit sacked Rodgers three times, who has already been sacked more this season than he was all of last year. Still, I think the Packers can get it together here and win by ten points. Take the Pack at -7.

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