The Packers are out of the race and the Vikings have control of the North. Can the Lions make it as well?
Vikings (Last Week: Win, 34-7 vs Bengals)
The Vikings walked to a win in this one. Not a huge surprise, however, when the Bengals coach announced he isn’t planning to return after this season. It’s hard to expect a team to play hard with that looming over them.
Case Keenum put together a calculated performance in this one. In a frontrunning effort, he went 20/23 for 236 yards and 2 touchdowns. When your running back is the leading receiver (McKinnon, 7 receptions for 114 yards), it says something about how that game went. The Vikings never passed deep because they never had to. NFL quarterbacks hate the phrase “game manager,” but it applies well to Keenum and is not an insult. He does exactly what they need him to and runs and efficient offense that can capitalize off the field position their defense gives them.
This team is built for playoff success. Can they break the curse and be the first team to play the superbowl in their home stadium?
Next game: @ Packers
Oh what could have been if the Packers were still in the playoff hunt. Rodgers’ revenge game against the Vikings at Lambeau? It feels like we’ve been robbed.
On paper this has the makings of being a blowout by Minnesota. However, these Packers-Vikings matchups have a way of bordering on the absurd. Don’t be surprised if this one comes down to the wire.
Lions (Last week: Win, 20-10 vs Bears)
The Lions continue to claw for life in the playoff hunt. Every week has been a playoff for them, and so far they have been living up to the pressure. They have the floundering Bengals next and then end their season against the Packers. They Lions could very well win out. Unfortunately, the Buccaneers did not help them out by beating the Falcons on Monday night. That means Detroit’s best chance at the playoffs is Atlanta losing their final two games. Which are against the Saints and Panthers so that’s a very real possibility. They will then have the tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Rams and Cowboys and get a wildcard. Anything beyond this scenario is a pretty slim chance for the Lions, involving multiple teams needing to lose key games. Lions fans will be cheering just as much against the Falcons as they will for their own team in these final weeks.
The Lions jumped out to an early lead against the Bears and then continued to feather the gas until the end of the game. Marvin Jones had a highlight reel catch on a 58 yard bomb to set the Lions up for a 13 to nothing lead. Golden Tate has been a staple of this Lions offense all season. Whereas Marvin Jones has had games where he simply seems to disappear. But when he gets his hands on the ball he makes sure to get yards. Jones averages 18 yards a reception this year and has 8 touchdowns. He is an explosive threat that could make waves if he’s given a chance in the playoffs.
Next game: @ Bengals
This could be an exciting matchup, there is a lot of big play potential on both offenses. We’ll have to see if Cincinnati shows up for the game in the wake of the Marvin Lewis drama.
The key to this one will be which team can get pressure on the quarterback. If Stafford or Dalton are given time in the backfield, expect fireworks.
Packers (Last week: Loss, 24-31 @ Panthers)
A Geronimo Allison fumble stole from us the chance at another vintage Aaron Rodgers comeback. Packers fans will have to spend another offseason wondering what could have been.
The Capers Conundrum: Has the defense struggled because of his coaching? Or is it personnel? In all likelihood it’s a combination of both. There’s two reasons to point at personnel problems; money being funneled mainly towards Aaron’s offense, and the annual cycle of devastating injuries on defense. While Capers hasn’t always had the men he’s planned for on the field, though, that doesn’t excuse that he hasn’t made it work.
With all the talk of Capers on the hot seat this season, this game did not do well to quiet the whispers. It felt like the Green Bay defense would step up for a rusty Rodgers, and while there were some good individual efforts, the defense as a whole did not play well. Capers has continued to underperform for years now. How much slack does a superbowl win get him?
Next Game: vs Vikings
Brett Hundley now has two more game to prove himself and possibly earn a starting quarterback spot on another team. He’s shown a mixed bag so far and could really use a flashy game if he’s looking for a Matt Flynn contract.
Bears (Last week: Win, 33-7 @ Bengals)
Trubisky put up over 300 yards in this game but don’t let that make you think the Bears offense was playing well this game. Their field goal came at the end of the first half as a result of a Theo Riddick fumble on a time killing run, and their touchdown came in garbage time. The Bears were behind from the get-go and were unsuccessfully playing catch up the whole game.
There’s a lot of pieces on this young team for Bears fans to be excited about though. Jordan Howard has been the workhorse of the Chicago offense this year and had been averaging 4.4 yards per carry. If Trubisky grows from having the majority of a season under his belt and improves in his Sophomore season this Bears team could turn things around quickly. If there’s one theme that holds true every year in the NFL, it’s parody. As the Rams have proved this season, all it takes is one offseason for a a team with talent to put the pieces together.
Next game: vs Browns
While they may not be contentious teams, this has the makings of being an exciting game. Can Josh Gordon help the Browns get their first win? The key to this one will be the Browns stopping the Bears rushing game. If they do that, they should be able to capitalize off a Trubisky mistake. But then again, they are the Browns. This one’s a coin toss!