Minnesota at Green Bay
Late-year chilly, windy, nasty, gusty, gutsy slugfests are an NFC North tradition that annually plays a major role in defining the outcome of the division. As discussed in yesterday’s article, this is a huge game for both teams for different reasons. Green Bay is on track for the playoffs but must be disturbed by the way they were defeated last week at New York. Minnesota is fighting for their playoff lives and needs to win to even stay on hypothetical postseason lists.
This contest pits a passing team versus a running team and two comparable defenses that have been exposed in recent weeks. Minnesota’s 11th ranked defense in YPG gives them an advantage on paper versus Green Bay’s 17th ranked squad. I have an easier time believing in the Packers’ defense rather than an offense led by Christian Ponder.
Minnesota’s rushing attack hasn’t been enough to get them through games, and this is especially a concern on the road in December at Lambeau Field. The Packers’ defense is banged up and this can be a defining game for them; keeping Minnesota off the board plays into Green Bay’s hands, and I have to go with Aaron Rodgers and the inconsistent Packer offense over an even-more-up-and-down Christian Ponder. Packers should defend their turf and turn the struggle for NFC North supremacy into a 2-team race.
My Prediction: Green Bay 28 Minnesota 14
Seattle at Chicago
Similar to the Minnesota-Green Bay contest, this is a crucial game for both teams. Chicago wants to keep their lead in the NFC North and with a victory they ensure a position on top for at least another week. Seattle is currently in possession of the 6th NFC playoff seed and knows how much it would mean to go into Soldier Field and get a huge win. The Seahawks are most likely seeing this as a statement game—an opportunity to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the NFC. Seattle currently ranks 3rd in scoring defense and 5th in defensive YPG which are intimidating numbers, and they will also be with starting CBs Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, who were both slated to be suspended for PED use.
I see this as an intriguing matchup. I give the edge to Chicago for home field and defense. Despite Seattle’s impressive year on the defensive side of the ball they have been far from impenetrable, and I’d give the advantage to Jay Cutler and Co. Both teams have trouble protecting the quarterback, and odds are this turns out to be a determining factor. Chicago has proved as effective at anyone when it comes to disrupting quarterbacks and making huge plays every week so they get the nod from my crystal ball.
My Prediction: Chicago 20 Seattle 14
Indianapolis at Detroit
From an NFC North standpoint this game is practically irrelevant. Lions fans everywhere get to rejoice in their rediscovered sense of hopelessness as the Lions fight for their pride. The Indianapolis Colts are in the thick of the AFC playoff hunt and could use a victory to hold onto their current #5 seed. Andrew Luck has struggled in recent weeks and this game will be decided by Detroit’s ability (or lack thereof) to disrupt the rookie quarterback. The Lions could also use a first half appearance from their offense and a complete game by Matthew Stafford. I have a feeling that Detroit, in an effort to truly sicken their fans in reminding them what could have been, will come out and play a great game and earn a feel-good victory over the Colts. Then again I also have a feeling that they will commit a bevy of personal fouls and mental errors which will drive fans crazy in a complete different manner. Ya just can’t win sometimes, can you? I predict both, either, and nothing. Oh to be a Lions fan. . .
My Prediction: Sadness, gloom, despair, disappointment.