Around the NFC North: Week 14

Here's a look around the NFC North for week 14 of the NFL season.

Chicago Bears

The 6-6 Bears celebrate a comeback victory over the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving Day.

-The Bears were put on their heels in the first half by a team on its third quarterback and with one of the worst defenses in the NFL. But they showed life in the second half, and Mitch Trubisky finally delivered his first 300-yard game of the season. Give the Bears some credit for not rolling over and dying, but then again, it was just the Lions.

-Bears wide receiver Anthony Miller came out of nowhere to catch nine passes for 140 yards, which was the best showing for a Bears receiver this season. Three of those catches and 83 of those yards were on the game-winning drive. It's hard to know what to expect out of Miller moving forward given who's playing quarterback, but the Bears have been in desperate need of someone other than Allen Robinson to show a pulse on offense, and Miller was that guy this week.

-The Bears' secondary struggled early on, allowing themselves to get carved up by David Blough, who most NFL fans have probably never heard of. But they found their footing later on and gave Blough a tough go of it as the game progressed. It had to be shocking to Bears fans watching their much-lionized defense get shredded by a nobody QB.

-At 6-6, the Bears technically aren't out of it yet, but really they're all but eliminated. The final few weeks of the season give them a chance to play spoiler against four would-be playoff teams: the Cowboys, Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. The effort this team puts forth in the final four weeks could have a lot of influence on the direction this franchise moves after this season.

The Bears play against their fellow 6-6 Dallas Cowboys, and have an opportunity to do some damage to the Cowboys' divisional title hopes.

Detroit Lions

The Lions lost yet another Thanksgiving Day game, this time against the Bears.

-Reports surfaced in the last week that Matt Patricia is expected to be brought back for a third season, but boy, it's getting harder and harder to justify it. I understand giving a guy a few years to implement his system or culture or whatever, but the Lions have gotten worse in just about every measurable category since firing Jim Caldwell, who at lest got the Lions to the postseason a couple times. Patricia is looking more and more like yet another Bill Belichick disciple who can't hack it outside of New England.

-David Blough put together a more impressive performance than Jeff Driskel, at least, but make no bones about it--the Lions aren't beating almost anyone (if anyone at all) without Matthew Stafford. At the very least, Blough has earned the top backup job now with Detroit, but don't expect him to be someone in demand this offseason unless he really lights it up over the last four weeks of the season.

-There really is no benefit to the Lions winning another game this season. Their defense is awful, their offense is too reliant on a couple key players, one of whom is injured and aging fast, and their offensive line is, to put it mildly, porous. The Lions would be better off losing out and getting good draft position. Now, players and coaches never tank, and I would never advocate tanking on their part. The good news for the franchise, though, is that the players and coaches are bad enough that purposeful tanking might not actually be necessary.

The Lions will travel to Minnesota in hopes of playing spoiler this Sunday.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings came up just short of a big comeback on Monday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks, falling to 8-4.

-The Vikings are almost certainly going to be a playoff team, but their loss on Monday night put them in a really tough spot for the NFC North division title race. At this point, not only do they need to win out (beating the Packers in the process), but they also need the Packers to lose one additional game. If the Vikings and Packers end the season with the same record, the Packers will still get the tiebreaker because of their better in-division record. So unless the Vikings go 4-0 and the Packers go 2-2 or worse the rest of the way, it's looking pretty good for the Packers to win their first division title in a few years.

-Kirk Cousins may be 0-8 on Monday Night Football, but that loss wasn't on him. He played pretty well in a tough environment. He'll have a shot at his first ever MNF win agains tthe Packers a few weeks in Minneapolis.

-What has been surprising is to see how far Xavier Rhodes has fallen in just a couple years. Two years ago he was in the conversation for the best player at his position. Now he's a bottom-tier starter who frequently gets eaten alive by opposing receivers. Shows just how fast life in the NFL can change, and how quickly talented players' skills can diminish.

The Vikings get the Lions at home this week. 

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (10)

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Leatherhead's picture

December 04, 2019 at 05:36 pm

Bears have four games to see if they can start 2020 with Trubisky. He hasn’t played very well this year and he doesn’t have people around him to carry the load. The Bears need a better offense to keep pace in the division. They still have the best defense in the division.

Lions. Suck. I’m old, but I remember my Dad telling me they used to be good. If it were up to me to fix it, I’d burn every single thing and start over completely fresh. Cut or trade or release every single player. All new coaches and front office. New secretaries and custodians and ground crew.

Vikings are going to be a 12-4 Wildcard. This looks like a pretty good team and I cannot wait to see how they’ll fail This time. Death, taxes, and Viking Failure.

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NitschkeFan's picture

December 04, 2019 at 05:56 pm

Leatherhead, I know it is cliche to say but I really did LOL reading your post! The sad-sack Lions have been so irrelevant my entire lifetime. They will occasionally make the playoffs but never have a sustained period of being good.

If I recall correctly, they have only one playoff game victory in the past 50 years (that happened in the early 1990's). How could anyone have fun following that team?

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

December 05, 2019 at 06:39 am

Last season Ryan Pace was the toast of the NFL's GM's. He won the Sporting News Executive of the Year (for whatever that's worth) and received a lot of credit for pulling off the Mack trade and building a 12-4 team...WHAT a difference a year makes AND a few injuries.

Pace pissed away so many draft picks (Thank God) the last few years and while doing so didn't even get the RIGHT QB. I mean he actually MOVED UP to draft Trubisky with Mahomes and Watson both sitting there. Mahomes surprised me how good he was but I really thought the Bears would draft Watson...THANK GOD!

I don't see how he can bail on Trubisky now...Not yet anyway. I would think he's got 2020 AT LEAST simply because of the draft picks he gave up, AND all the additional picks they gave up for Mack. I would think Trubisky is the QB as long as Pace is the GM...Or at the very least next season.

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Lphill's picture

December 04, 2019 at 07:26 pm

Vikings are pretty banged up would be something if they lost to the Lions.

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Pack88's picture

December 04, 2019 at 08:13 pm

Yes with regards to Rhodes how the mighty have fallen. He is a smaller less talented version of Richard Sherman who are tug and grabbers. Just like Sherman he has been exposed and if you get a quality officiating crew the flags are flying. In most cases Rhodes and Sherman are slightly diminished versions of their best self but slightly better officiating highlights their flaws, Otherwise I agree about the Vikings unless GB chokes they are a wildcard team!!

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albert999's picture

December 05, 2019 at 06:55 am

I believe the Vikings will lose at least 2 games down the stretch
Our special teams will thrive and Rodgers will shine
Go pack go

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jlc1's picture

December 05, 2019 at 09:57 am

Please, please give me some of what you are drinking and smoking.
Go Pack Go.

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albert999's picture

December 05, 2019 at 10:32 am

It’s the good stuff

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porupack's picture

December 05, 2019 at 07:15 am

Yes, shocking to watch XRhodes get eaten up by receivers after years of pro-bowl level play. I have similar puzzlement as to Bahktiari's and JAlexander's season that seems to be a regression, though not to the level of XRhodes.

The Bears' game will be a tough one. They have a lot of revenge and motivation to be spoiler to GB.
If GB secondary leaves 5-10 yard cushions for Bears WRs, and not be capable of pressing 2 strong WRs in Robinson and Miller (now that they have good tape on what Miller can do), then Trubisky will have a renaissance game, perhaps his best of his otherwise dismal year...and GB loses a heartbreaker.

This matchup is the only remaining one that I worry about, more-so than the Vikes game.

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Stroh's picture

December 05, 2019 at 12:32 pm

I'm sorry, i don't see how on earth you could be more worried about tje bares than the vigueens. Minn has far more and superior playmakers across the field on offense and as good of a defense. That makes no sense.

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