Though 5 games remain in the 2009 season, I think everyone expects that the NFC North will finish the season with the Vikings in 1st place, and the Green Bay Packers in 2nd place. But what about 3rd and 4th place?
They've remained upbeat over at Windy City Gridiron, but it's been a rough season. They were crushed by the Vikings last week for their 4th loss in a row, the finger pointing has started, and so has the search for a new head coach.
Things are a little calmer in Detroit, despite the beating they took from the Packers on Thanksgiving. The injuries keep piling up, but QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson were back at practice on Tuesday.
Here's the Lions (2-9) remaining schedule: at Bengals, at Ravens, home against the Cardinals, at 49ers, and home against the Bears. The Bengals might be a surprising game because they seem to play down to their opponents. Despite beating the Packers in week 2, amongst other good wins, the Bengals have also played two close games against the Browns and lost to the Raiders. Realistically, I don't see how the Lions could win any of those games.
Here's the Bears (4-7) remaining schedule: home against the Rams, home against the Packers, at Ravens, home against the Vikings, at Lions. Could they lose to the Rams at home? Unless RB Steven Jackson has a monster game, he'll do well but I'm not expecting a RB Cedric Benson 189 yard stomping, I don't see how the Rams can win. It looks like they'll beat the Rams and Lions and finish 6-10.
But if the Lions can steal one of their next four games, and the Bears continue to lose (even against the Rams), the week 17 matchup in Detroit between the potentially 3-12 Lions and the 4-11 Bears could be a battle for last place. I'm sure the Broncos and Buccaneers would like to see the Bears finish 4-12, since they own the Bears 1st and 2nd round picks in 2010, respectively. Is it possible that both teams could finish with a 4-12 record?