Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR
Ed. Note — no 4th and Goals this week but we will have a new 3 and Out specifically on the Bears soon after Bears-Packers
Hang tight Green Bay Packer fans, as your season is about to take a wild ride in these last several games down the stretch.
Still without their 2x MVP, Aaron Rodgers, the Packers have some experience in this position at this point but its not good experience, having gone 0-2 with Brett Hundley as the starting quarterback.
Interestingly enough the Pack don’t know what its like to face their eternal rival Chicago Bears without Rodgers since he’s been the man in Wisconsin, Sunday will mark the first time that’s ever happened.
The closest Green Bay’s come to not having their guy in a critical Bear week game came in 2013, at the tail end of a stretch where the Pack barely stayed afloat with a 2-4-1 record without him in the season’s second half. Of course (if you’re a Bears fan, at least) Rodgers managed to return in time to face Chicago in the final game of the season and clinch the NFC North for his squad while ruining the division hopes for the Bears.
No such division stakes are on the line this week, its too early either way, but if Green Bay wants to have any chances making the playoffs of making a North division impact they’ll need to make a statement right away.
What stands in Green Bay’s way in doing so is the Bears entering this game with a top 10 pass rush in the NFL, having produced 23 sacks in total this year. That’s not a good sign for the Packers, who allow fifth most sacks in the league (27) including four combined in the past two games. Detroit got Green Bay for three while beating them down at home this past Monday night.
Yes, the Packers surprisingly and finally just took the all-time series lead over the Bears earlier this season by beating Chicago on Thursday Night Football. It wasn’t so long ago when everything was fine in the land of cheese, now its time to regroup and strap on for the ride of everyone’s life.
Sitting in third place in the North, Green Bay could possibly fall into a tie for last place within the division with a loss today and do so at the hands of their long-suffering rival, that would be the utmost disrepect for Packer fans.
Another Day In The Lions’ Den
The Detroit Lions will look to build upon their impressive Monday Night victory over Green Bay in Lambeau Field as they return home this week against a winless Browns team.
Shots and remarks continue to be fired at Browns coach Hue Jackson in regards to his job security — he has put up a miserable 1-23 record since taking over as head coach in 2016. Playing with nothing to lose at this point seems to be somewhat of an understatement.
The Lions have gone through a recent culture change of their own, dating back to 2015 when Martha Firestone Ford cleaned house and put her own hires in place. The mangerial restructuring boiled down to changing the franchise’s culture, especially its corporate culture. A lot of companies seem to be tackling down these issues as we speak.
On the field, though, its still up in the air regarding the convincing of Lions fans that they have turned the corner of moving on from mediocrity or worse. Head coach Jim Caldwell, who especially signed his extension back in September, hasn’t done the most with what he’s got, but he hasn’t let the team slide out of contention completely either.
The Lions enter this game at 4-4 with hopes of inching closer towards the first place Minnesota Vikings. Now is their opportunity once again to take care of business, they are heavily favored as -9.5 point favorites over the Browns according to Oddsshark.
Vikings Face Test In D.C
The Minnesota Vikings have been offering the closest thing to dominance we’ve seen in the NFC North this year.
Along with their first-place record (6-2), the Vikes’ average scoring margin is +5.5, ranking fifth overall in the league. As for everyone else in the North: Lions (13th), Packers (18th) and the Bears (24th).
The Vikings seem to be handling business at the right time, they have posted a 4-0 record since losing to the Lions at home back on October 1st on top of possibly taking out Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of the season in their last clash with Green Bay.
Minnesota is fresh off their bye as they travel to the Nation’s Capital to take on Kirk Cousins and the Washington football team. Minnesota and Washington have split the last two times they’ve met with Vikings coach Mike Zimmer at the helm. The all-time series is tied at 10-10.
A matchup to watch out for is the Vikings defensive front against Washington’s offensive line. The Vikings’ defensive front has generated 17.5 of the team’s overall total 24 sacks this season whereas Washington has ranked in the middle of the pack in the league in allowing 22 sacks.
In compiling a 4-2 record as starter, Minnesota’s Case Keenum has thrown for 1,610 yards passing, 7 TDs and 3 interceptions. Keenum’s relief play since Sam Bradford went down with a knee injury following the Monday Night opener against the Saints has been critical in providing what should be a winning season for the Vikes.
Sitting atop the NFC North with a nice two game lead Minnesota looks even better going forward with the long-awaited return of Teddy Bridgewater becoming official this weekend. Instead of having to rush him back to maintain some competitive edge, though, they can take their time with him and be secure with Bridgewater as one of the NFL’s most skilled backup QBs for now. If Keenum slips up or gets hurt himself then they got another worthy person for the most important position.
“He hasn’t had training camp. He hasn’t done anything,” Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said this week of Bridgewater.
“We’re just trying to get him to where everybody feels comfortable with him.”
Things are in cruise control overall for Minny but they should have to put in a bit of work this week, sitting as slight -2.5 point favorites over Washington according to Oddsshark.
Follow Charles at his personal blog and on Twitter @ProdigyRichey; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio