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NFC North: Week 16 Preview and Predictions

The Chicago Bears once had a death grip on this division, but they’re slowly slipping down the divisional standings. Green Bay is 10-4 and has clinched the division while the Vikings continue to win improbably. However, the Vikes get the Texans and Packers down the stretch, and will mostly likely drop out of the playoff discussion, and quick, by noon today. However, it’s a testament to this division that the Lions are the only team out of the playoff picture. Let’s take a look at the Week 16 action in the NFC North and make some predictions.

Tennessee Titans (+13) at Green Bay Packers, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

With Green Bay having locked up this division, there was some speculation that they would coast down the stretch. However, the Pack appear to have learned their lesson from last year and don’t plan on resting their starters. “We want the bye week, make no bones about it,” Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. “It’s important to have a healthy football team, and if you have an opportunity to achieve the bye week, that’s what we’re working for. I’m making it clear right now. We’re going to play all the way through.”

Last season, the Packers coasted through the end of the season and looked mighty rusty when they ultimately lost to the Giants in the playoffs. I don’t expect them to make the same mistake twice, and they should put the pedal to the metal against this truly lousy Titans team. I normally don’t support the idea of taking a team favored by this many points, but come on: Tennessee won’t travel well to Lambeau. Take the Pack at -13.

Minnesota Vikings (+9) at Houston Texans, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST

The Vikings are 8-6, a wild overachievement given expectations for this team at the beginning of the season. Of course, Adrian Peterson has had a little something to do with that. With 1,812 yards, 11 touchdowns and a sterling 6.3 yard per carry average, All Day has pretty much singlehandedly carried this Vikings team to a winning record. He’s within a game of 2,000 yards, and could even break Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record. “The record would be great,” coach Leslie Frazier said. “But the most important thing is to get a win in Houston. And the fact that he feels that way, that will permeate through the rest of our team. He wants to really concentrate on winning this game, more so than the record.”

However, Houston has a fantastic defensive line that will key on AP all afternoon. The Texans are extremely vulnerable against the pass, and guess what the Vikings can’t even do semi-competently? Take the Texans at  -9.

Chicago Bears (-6) at Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST

Blech, this is an ugly game. The Bears look like they’re in a free fall; they can’t block, they can’t run the ball, and their defense stopped creating turnovers. “I told the guys we can’t feel sorry for ourselves offensively,” quarterback Jay Cutler said. “We just have to do whatever we have to do to win this game. You’re not going to fix every problem in one week, so we just have to focus on ourselves and what we have to do internally offensively to win one game, and we’ll move on from there.”

Still, you or I would be more competent offensive football players than the garbage Arizona trots out onto the field every week. Hammer the Bears at -6 here.

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