All good things must come to an end.
After a stretch of eight-straight playoff appearances, the Green Bay Packers’ comeback bid to reach a ninth one fell short as the Pack dropped a close one to the Carolina Panthers, 31-24. With the loss, the Packers (7-7) were eliminated from postseason contention and fell to third place in the division.
Elsewhere in the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings clinched a divisional championship behind a complete performance from all units. With the game in the bag early in the fourth quarter, it was all smiles in Minneapolis as Teddy Bridgewater saw his first live action in almost two years. As Minnesota continues its quest for a first round bye, their showdown with the Packers this weekend figures to be one filled with bad blood.
More details on the Vikings’ clincher, as well as the steps their rivals might take to catch them next season, in today’s rundown.
Detroit Lions (8-6)
Won vs. Chicago, 20-10; Next at Cincinnati
Matthew Stafford and an aggressive Lions’ defense led by Darius Slay earned top billing after Sunday’s win over the Bears.
Detroit’s men up front are arguably just as injured now as Green Bay’s were earlier in the season. The Lions played for their playoff lives without three starters for a good portion of Sunday’s contest.
Forced to wait another year to chase an NFC North crown, Detroit could follow four suggestions in this article to compete for the top spot as soon as next season.
Chicago Bears (4-10)
Lost at Detroit, 20-10; Next vs. Cleveland
With John Fox’s almost guaranteed departure within the next three weeks, here are seven candidates Chicago may consider for a head coaching vacancy.
Mitch Trubisky tossed three interceptions in the Bears’ loss, but Fox praised the rookie quarterback for his maturity and understanding of the offense on Sunday.
A few more details on Trubisky’s errant throws, as well as the penalties on each side of the football that destroyed Chicago, in this week’s three things that stood out.
Minnesota Vikings (11-3)
Won vs. Cincinnati, 34-7; Next at Green Bay
The defense was as good as ever and Case Keenum was near-flawless as Minnesota cruised to a win over Cincinnati and an NFC North championship.
With the Vikings comfortably ahead in the fourth quarter, Bridgewater took the field to a roaring crowd for the first time since 2015. Although one of his two passes was an interception, Bridgewater’s once-improbable return was the focal point of the outing.
Defensive tackle Linval Joseph would like to see the “competitor” Rodgers take the field against a Vikings defense that put him out of commission earlier this season.