NGSC Sports

NFC North: Week Fifteen

NFC North Standings:

1. Green Bay Packers 10-3 (4-1)

2. Detroit Lions 9-4 (3-0)

3. Minnesota Vikings 6-7 (0-4)

4. Chicago Bears 5-8 (1-3)

 

Green Bay Packers vs Buffalo Bills (Packers are the favorite at -4.5; over/under: 50.5

The Green Bay Packers saw a huge Monday Night Football lead in the first half turn into a 6 point victory when it was all said and done.  This isn’t college where you have to look good in your wins, so for the Packers – they keep on rolling in the NFC.   At this point the Packers are looking to keep the Detroit Lions at bay and maintain their spot on top of the NFC to hold home field advantage in the playoffs.

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This week they ride into Buffalo to take on a Bills team who’s season might’ve ended under the hand of Peyton Manning last week.  Buffalo has a lot to look forward to down the line, but before they are taken seriously, they need to focus on getting a quarterback and a head coach.   The defense is still the team’s strongest point and they will have to be at their absolute best to contend with the Packers’ high powered offense for four quarters.  Cornerback Corey Graham is quietly having a nice season, his two interceptions aren’t blowing folks away, but his 12 deflected passes prove that he has his head on a swivel all game long.

Everything that was a weakness for the Packers at the beginning of the season – running game, offensive line, rush defense – have all been addressed by Mike McCarthy and his coaching staff.  This Packers team has shown fewer holes week to week in their over-all game and the confidence of every player on the team is evident.  The Packers offense isn’t the same away from Lambeau but lucky for them, the weather conditions in Buffalo are pretty similar to that of Wisconsin, so that shouldn’t be an excuse.

The Bills have a knack for scoring late in games and could keep this one close, but the Packers losing to the Bills is inconceivable for so many different reasons.

Predicted Score: Packers 27, Bills 22   Better’s Pick: No Play

 

Minnesota Vikings vs Detroit Lions (Lions are the favorite at -7.5; over/under: 43

The Vikings head into Detroit for an NFC North match up which could prove to be a problem for the home team.  On paper it seems as if Detroit should roll, but this is Detroit – you HAVE to remember that.  Head coach Mike Zimmer is a defensive minded coach, who has this Vikings team giving up 21 points a game this season but has surprisingly showed the ability to get to the quarterback often racking up 38 sacks for the season, putting them in the top 5 for that category.  This defense also is top ten in passing yards allowed at 212 yards per game.

Detroit’s offense works in spurts, but when that “spurt” is working – they are one of the most complete offenses in the league.  “Inconsistency” is the word that has haunted quarterback Matthew Stafford in his young career and at this point of the season, they need him to be careful with the football and finish off drives.  This is an offense though, that still averages less than four yards a carry and have shown a tendency to play down to their level of their competition.

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Expect Detroit to start out fast and finish slow – or the other way around.  The Vikings will probably lean more towards Ben Tate than Matt Asiata in the backfield in this game – people don’t run on the Lions, but they can run screens against the pass rush and blitz – wherein Tate is better suited for that kind of game.  This Vikings team is young for the most part and might still be riding high from their overtime win last Sunday.

Predicted Score: Lions 17, Vikings 13     Better’s Pick: Vikings +7.5

 

Chicago Bears vs New Orleans Saints (Bears are the underdog at +3; over/under: 54

Monday Night Football probably wishes it could get this one back.   The Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints are two of the most disappointing or THE most disappointing teams this season.  The Bears have completely shut down and everyone from the top to the bottom of this organization is to blame.  The New Orleans Saints have lost that “cajun swagger” of the X-Men’s Gambit – and kind of just play “clunky” football.  Where these teams differ though, is that the Saints season is far from over and can still win the pathetic NFC South division.

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The Bears have lost faith in their coach, system and even the organization as a whole.  Brandon Marshall was the one vocal leader of this team and now he’s out for the rest of the season with a rib injury.  And this defense is a joke.  The Saints, as mentioned before, can still win this division and actually want to play for their head coach.  Sean Payton actually has had individual sit down conversations with the veteran players on this Saints team, to get a feel for the general mood of the locker room.  He is relying on his leaders to lead – and it starts with Drew Brees.

Drew Brees is 17 yards away from his ninth season of at least 4000 passing yards, and by the end of this game he may end up being 600 yards away from his 5th season of at least 5000 passing yards.  The Chicago Bears give up the most points per game in the league at 29.1 and give up the third most passing yards a game at 265.  If the Saints coaches got the memo from around the league it’s that the Bears seemingly refuse to defend passes to the middle of the field so tight end Jimmy Graham, who’s been quiet the last few weeks, should be eating all day against this Bears defense.

But hold on.

Right next to the Bears in passing defense is the New Orleans Saints who give up 265 yards a game and surrender only two points less than the Bears do.

The Bears can play the roll of spoilers to some degree, but ‘do they even care?’ –  is the question.

Predicted Score: Saints 38, Bears 35     Better’s Pick: The Over

 

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

 

 

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