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Cheese Curds, 12/11: Lions leaving the door open for Packers to make a division title run

A surprising loss by the Lions on Sunday is leaving the Packers with a real chance to win the NFC North, but they’ll need to continue their winning ways in December.

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Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

We know the story by now: Matt LaFleur has won 16 straight games in the month of December. Coming into this month, his undefeated record in the month was a fun statistical oddity, but now that we’re in the second week of December, that streak is more immediately relevant.

It has become even more so after the results of Sunday’s games — particularly the Detroit Lions’ loss to the Chicago Bears. That result keeps the door open, at least a crack, for the Packers to make a run at the Lions and try to earn a division title after a one-year break.

Our Justis Mosqueda broke down the scenarios on Sunday, but the upshot is this: the Packers need to run the table on the final five games (which are all winnable, by the way) and have the Lions lose two more, including one of their pair of matchups with the Minnesota Vikings.

Up next for the Packers is tonight’s Monday Night Football matchup with the Giants, and a win tonight would keep them in playoff position, a game ahead of a handful of 6-7 teams that includes the Rams, Seahawks, Saints, and Falcons. According to ESPN, the Packers would still be the 7th seed regardless of tonight’s result, but maintaining the one-game lead on those other teams is vital, and a W is key to keeping any feasible hope of a division title alive.

Packers Have Legit Chance to Win NFC North After Lions Lose to Bears - Sports Illustrated
The Lions dropped a shocker to the Bears on Sunday, opening the door another crack. Coming into the week, Green Bay need Detroit to lose at least three of their last five games, including two of three in the division; those chances got a substantial boost on Sunday.

NFL 2023 Week 14: Biggest questions, risers and takeaways - ESPN
Here are some of the takeaways from Sunday's games, but the biggest one to this writer is that the Chiefs seemingly can't handle being punished with an obviously correct penalty.

Packers’ perfect December under Matt LaFleur is impressive, but not mysterious - The Athletic ($)
Interestingly, LaFleur's record in December could be due as much to schedule as anything else -- the Packers have been underdogs just three times in that 16-game winning streak.

Packers know the stakes when pitted against Saquon Barkley |
To make the streak 17, the Packers cannot let Barkley beat them.

Packers feeling Preston Smith’s impact both on and off the field | Packers Wire
Smith is a key component to the run defense and will be important for the team's efforts to contain Barkley. But his importance to the team as a whole is much more than just his ability to set the edge.

Nashville woman sues BBQ Restaurant because the smell is a “nuisance” | Whiskey Riff
The only downside I can see to being surrounded by delicious barbeque smell all the time is the constant hunger.