The NFC North may just be the best division in the National Football League, and two of the four teams will be featured on the national stage Monday night as the Chicago Bears will take on the Detroit Lions.
As the Bears sat at home for their bye week last week, the rest of the division was in action. First was the team the Bears were tied with in first place, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings jumped out to an early 9-0 lead before the Washington Redskins finally got going, as the Vikings fell 38-26. The loss guaranteed that the Bears would wake up on Monday in sole possession of first place.
The Detroit Lions traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles, two teams who have struggled mightily this season. In a battle in which the Lions continued their undisciplined play, Philly did everything they could to give the game back to Detroit. The game would head to overtime, where the Lions would win on a field goal, giving them their second win of the season, and essentially keeping them alive in the division.
Then on Sunday night, the Green Bay Packers, maybe the biggest surprise this season in terms of disappointments, took on the Houston Texans. It is still somewhat baffling to me why the Texans decided to play man coverage against the Packers, but it was just what Green Bay needed to spark their offense, as they dominated the Texans 42-24.
So currently the NFC North stands as follows; the Detroit Lions sit at the basement with a 2-3 record, Green Bay is .500 at 3-3, the Vikings are 4-2 and a half a game behind Chicago, who currently sits in first place at 4-1.
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The division is one in which all four teams are legitimate contenders for the division crown at the end of the season, and the fact that all four teams have solid quarterbacks is no coincidence. Jay Cutler, Christian Ponder, Aaron Rodgers, and Matthew Stafford all will have Pro Bowls under their belts when they retire, and the battle for the division should be exciting for years to come.
For now, its early in the season, but each win and loss in the NFL can change the landscape of the division for the rest of the year. This coming Monday, that will happen, as a Lions loss will put them far out, but a win aligns them with every other team in the division.
- The Chicago Bears released offensive lineman Chris Williams this week, another former first round pick made by Jerry Angelo. With Williams’ release, that means that Gabe Carimi is the only first round pick left on the roster that Angelo drafted. That’s remarkable considering Angelo was the general manager of this team as recently as last season.
- The last time the Bears and Lions squared off, the two teams had some unfriendly battles that led to some ejections. Coach Lovie Smith made it clear that neither one of these teams likes each other too much, so it will be interesting to see how each team uses it to their advantage. With the Lions picking up 16 penalties last week, we’ll see if the Bears can con them into picking up some flags after the whistle.
- While much of the focus has been on the struggles of J’Marcus Webb, Gabe Carimi has been far worse this season. Webb has had two penatlies this season as well as giving up three sacks, one quarterback hurry, and eight QB hits. Carimi has had seven penalties, while giving up three sacks, four quarterback hurries and 17 QB hits. While this is essentially Carimi’s first season after he sat out last year with an injury, maybe it isn’t Webb’s face that which Cutler needs to be in.
- Earl Bennett remains questionable for the game Monday. If Bennett doesn’t play, the Bears will be real short on depth at the position, but the fact that they didn’t pick up another wide receiver with their roster moves this week, I would assume that Bennett will play.
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