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Week 16 – NFC North Preview

The NFC North, week 16, as it currently stands:

1. Chicago Bears 8-6 (2-3)

2. Green Bay Packers 7-6-1 (2-2)

3. Detroit Lions 7-7 (4-1)

4. Minnesota Vikings 4-9-1 (1-3)

The NFC North solidified it’s confusion as the only team to lose this week was the team that was in first place, Detroit, who now find themselves scratching their heads from third.  Minnesota surprised the masses by handling Philadelphia, while not being equipped with Adrian Peterson.  Minnesota has some players like Matt Cassel who are trying to showcase what they have to stay employed in this league and other players who may be playing for the employment concerns of head coach Leslie Frazier.  The NFL has found a way to keep the Green Bay Packers alive and in a week where the quarterback controversy in Chicago was the main headline – Jay Cutler came away with an impressive win  for the Bears that put them in first place in the NFC North.

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Green Bay Packers at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers  (no line as of now)

Vegas has not put a line up on this game yet and for good reason.  The health of Aaron Rodgers is still in question.  Even if Rodgers is medically cleared, the organization has to be smart about it.  They want him at 100% because if he takes a bad hit or fall which causes him to re injure himself, they will have a lot of explaining to do.  At the same time, they are in a playoff race and having Rodgers would certainly give them an upgrade in the “we got a chance” department.  Pittsburgh comes into Green Bay with a passing attack that can cause problems for Green Bay’s secondary and are also riding high after their Sunday Night win against division rival Cincinnati.  It’s easy to say if Matt Flynn plays, Green Bay loses and if Aaron Rodgers plays, Green Bay wins – but I always put a lot of trust into Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau when in it comes to these kind of scenarios.  Flynn, isn’t at a complete loss out on the field, but it’s a pretty vanilla version of what Green Bay would want to run which makes scheming a little easier on the defense, and if Rodgers is the one under center, LeBeau will be doing his best to make things uncomfortable in the quarterback’s first game back from injury.

Smart Money Man says:  No line? No play.

The Gee says : Pittsburgh 17 Green Bay 16

Minnesota Vikings visiting the Cincinnati Bengals (Vegas has Bengals -7)

First off, my apologies to the Vikings.  I took them for a team that would roll over and play dead without Adrian Peterson suiting up to play – but they came out and handled the Philadelphia Eagles.  Much props.  Now, can they do it again?  One thing is for sure, when playing the Bengals, nobody knows what to expect.  The Bengals are a team that at the beginning of the season, I picked to finish with the best record in the league – meanwhile they’re struggling to maintain a strong hold on the AFC North.  The Bengals are a team that seam to be playing scared at this point of the season while Minnesota is playing loose and with a “nothing to lose” mentality.  I still don’t know how the Vikings are trying to use Cordarrelle Patterson in this offense, but this is a game where you have to give the young man opportunities to make plays as they did against Baltimore.  Although A.P. will be back for this one, staying one dimensional against Cincy won’t work, no matter who your running back is.  Minnesota can pull off another upset because we never know which Bengals team will show up week to week.

Smart Money Man says: Vikings +7

The Gee Says : Bengals 21- Vikings 16

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Detroit Lions at home to the New York Giants (Vegas has Lions -9)

Although the Dallas Cowboys get blown up by the media for blowing leads and costly turnovers – no team in the league does it in a more obnoxious fashion than the Detroit Lions.  Stafford has tallied up 20 turnovers so far this season, and his fourth quarters have been atrocious. In their Monday Night loss to the Ravens Calvin Johnson was dropping routine passes and Reggie Bush – although played – did not look 100% throughout.  Coach Jim Schwartz (who I’ve gone on record saying is one of the worse two coaches in the NFL) may have a pink slip at the end of this season if he doesn’t get a division title.  With that being said. . .  what better time to have to play the New York Giants.  I can’t say that it pains me to see the Giants struggle like they have been.  Eli Manning and this offense struggle to move the ball beyond the 50 yard line, have a lack of a running game and receivers who apparently forget what play was called the moment they leave the huddle.  Coach Tom Coughlin has expressed publicly his dissatisfaction with the effort of some players in his locker room which has opened the door wide open for the “has Coughlin lost his team” discussion.  The Lions have given themselves a reputation this season for giving games away, but the only way they can give this game away is by literally not showing up to play. Since I doubt that will happen, the Lions should bully their way easily here.

Smart Money Man says: Lions -9

The Gee Says : Lions 28 – Giants 6

Chicago Bears visiting the Philadelphia Eagles (Vegas has the Eagles -3)

After a week of being told by many that he shouldn’t be the starter, Jay Cutler worked off some early rust in his struggles against a good Browns defense and came alive in the second half to get the “W” in Cleveland.  Nothing brought could bring a bigger smile to this Bears fan’s face than the silence coming from the Josh McCown supporters/Jay Cutler bashers.  And now Cutler and the Bears have a prime time match up on Sunday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles.  As mentioned earlier, it seemed as if the Eagles would handle the Vikings fairly easily but instead were pushed around for most of the game.  Lucky for them, the Bears rush defense is more like a welcome committee for those in the back field looking to achieve pay dirt, while the pass defense is not that much better.  The Bears have no answers what-so-ever for small speedy receivers so if you have Desean Jackson starting in your fantasy league championship, watch him light it up for you. This game features two intriguing offensive figures. And no, I’m not talking about Alshon Jeffrey or Lesean McCoy – but Marc Trestman and Chip Kelly.  Trestman is one who’s offensive methods have been revered for years and has delivered consistent success in his career, while Chip Kelly was brought into Philadelphia right out of the college ranks where he put up video game numbers coaching at the University of Oregon.  Although it’s no surprise I will side with the Bears in this game, I will say this – the team that has the ball last will most likely come away with the win.

Smart Money Man Says: Eagles -3

The Gee Says: Bears 34 Eagles 33

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

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