Second-half performance remains an area requiring improvement, but the Green Bay Packers were able to overcome a sloppy final two quarters to defeat the Carolina Panthers, 24-16, on Saturday night. The win lifted the Packers to an 11-3 record with just two games to play, maintaining the team’s hopes for the top playoff seed and an uber-important first-round bye.
Behind them, the Chicago Bears became the division’s only true additional playoff contender with a win over Minnesota. For the Bears, they will live to die another day with an offensive re-awakening. For the Vikings, the loss was a microcosm of their season to date and points to a number of areas to be addressed in the coming months.
More on those newsworthy stories, in addition to an assistant coach firing in Detroit, is featured in today’s divisional rundown.
Chicago Bears (7-7)
Won 33-27 at Minnesota; Next at Jacksonville
The Packers-Bears rematch in the final week of the season just got a little more interesting as the Bears improved to a .500 record and stayed in the hunt for a final playoff spot.
All phases of the offense have suddenly found their rhythm, including David Montgomery who rushed 32 times for a career-high 146 yards on Sunday.
Allen Robinson was the team’s biggest snub in this year’s list of Pro Bowl nominees.
Minnesota Vikings (6-8)
Lost 33-27 vs. Chicago; Next at New Orleans
Sunday’s loss exposed a few glaring priorities for Minnesota in the offseason as the team virtually dropped out of the postseason race.
So you’re telling me there’s a chance? Here’s the scenario that gets the Vikings to the playoffs.
Both sides of the line should be addressed once the season concludes, particularly if Minnesota is to move forward with Kirk Cousins at quarterback.
Detroit Lions (5-9)
Lost 46-25 at Tennessee; Next vs. Tampa Bay
Finding a way to further utilize two young players on offense and finding a way to extend one of the team’s few productive defensive pieces are some of the tasks for new Lions management.
After what was deemed to be an insubordinate decision to fake a punt, the special teams coordinator was fired. But there appears to be more behind the decision than just one play.
Last year’s first-round pick made the cut after emerging as one of the NFC’s top tight ends this season.