Packers Will Hold Off Vikings in NFC North

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I have really appreciated the hospitality, kind words and intelligent debate provided by everyone as I attempt to hold down the fort in Jersey Al’s absence. I tweeted Al the other day that I felt like a squatter in his house, (think Randy Quaid) and that Al will soon return home, throw me out, and have me arrested.

But until that happens, it appears that I have free reign over the mansion that Al has built over here in the posh and tony section of the Packers cyber community. Meantime, I am going to raid Al’ refrigerator, drink all of his expensive liquor and swim naked in his pool (don’t worry, I’m not linking to a picture of that).

The best way to stir the pot and possibly get the readers of this fine blog to turn on me is to start making predictions. The original intent of this post was to do a simple evaluation of the NFC North during the Packers bye week, but that was kind of blah. To spice things up a bit, I decided to predict all of the remaining games for each NFC North team, including the playoffs and the Super Bowl. I threw in a little context as well.

Enjoy and please do not yell at me too loud. I don’t want all the commotion to cause the police to throw me out of Al’s house before Al throws me out of his house.

Packers

Current Record: 6-3 (1st)

Remaining Schedule:

@Vikings (L 20-27)
@Falcons (L 24-26)
49ers (W 30-14)
@Lions (W 30-20)
@Patriots (L 25-27)
Giants (W 23-10)
Bears (W 30-16)

Final Record: 10-6 (1st)

The Breakdown:When was the last time the Packers beat a really good quarterback on the road? I would probably say Eli Manning and the Giants on Sept. 16, 2007. But this was pre-Super Bowl Manning and he was not playing that well at the time. If you wanted to be super picky, you might have to go back to Michael Vick and the Falcons on Nov. 13, 2005. But was Vick ever a really goodquarterback? If you wanted to be even pickier, you have to go back to Daunte Culpepper and the Vikings on Christmas Eve of 2004.

If you were being generous, you could maybe make an argument for Jay Cutler and Denver on Oct. 29, 2007, Vick and the Eagles week one of this season (he only played a half), and Mark Sanchez and the Jets in week eight of this season (Sanchez was playing well at the time).

Whether you are being picky or generous, the Packers have not fared well against really good quarterbacks on the road recently. Their remaining 2010 schedule includes road contests against Brett Favre, Matt Ryan and Tom Brady. Favre is 11-1 at the Metrodome since joining the Vikings. Ryan is 17-1 at home in his career. Brady has 25 straight home wins. Yikes.

But games against the 49ers, Lions and Bears will help make up for the continued road struggles against top quarterbacks (and yes I still consider Favre a top quarterback if he is playing the Packers). A key win at home against the Giants will also help deliver the NFC North to the Packers.

Vikings

Current Record: 3-5 (3rd)

Remaining Schedule:

@Bears (W 31-17)
Packers (W 27-20)
@Redskins (L 17-14)
Bills (W 27-17)
Giants (L 20-26)
Bears (W 28-16)
@Eagles (L 27-23)
@Lions (W 34-13)

Final Record: 8-8 (2nd)

The Breakdown: Brace yourselves Packers fans, the Vikings are going to make a run. I still think the Vikings are too talented to tank. And unlike the Cowboys “too talented to tank” team, the Vikings have the right mix of veterans that will not allow the younger players to throw in the towel.

However, it is going to be too little, too late.

The Vikings have not won on the road since beating the Packers week eight of last season, but they should break that streak against the deceptively lousy Bears. After stealing one from the Packers, the Redskins will continue the Vikings road woes before the Eagles officially end the purple’s season in Week 16. Somewhere in that mess will be a home loss to a Giants team that is playing for a high playoff seed. If the Vikings win that Giants game, then who knows what could happen.

The way I see it, the only chance the Vikings have of going on a sustained run that could vault them past the Packers is if Favre continues playing well and Brad Childress opens up the offense. Don’t get me wrong, Adrian Peterson is having a great season, but teams are fine with giving Peterson 100-plus yards on 25 carries. As long as Peterson does not break off runs of 25 yards or more, teams are content to watch the Vikings try and methodically move the ball down the field.

The Vikings offense gets dangerous when Favre starts connecting with Percy Harvin (and soon Sidney Rice) for large chunks of yardage. That gets the Vikings ahead early, which allows Peterson to milk the clock in the second half and put teams away. However, Favre has struggled early in games, and Childress seems reluctant to stick with a downfiled attack if it is not working immediately.

Those of you that have read my work in the past know that I tend to overvalue the Vikings. But we have seen what the Vikings’ offense is capable of in spurts. We saw it in the final five minutes against the Cardinals, late against the Jets and occasionally against the Packers. If this offense’s downfield attack gets rejuvenated, look out.

Bears

Current Record: 5-3 (2nd)

Remaining Schedule:

Vikings (L 17-31)
@Dolphins (W 17-9)
Eagles (L 6-20)
@Lions (L 17-19)
Patriots (L 17-22)
@Vikings (L 16-24)
Jets (L 10-20)
@Packers (L 16-30)

Final Record: 6-10 (3rd)

While everyone is talking about the Cowboys collapse and waiting for the Vikings to follow suit, the real collapse might come from the Bears. The Bears have the toughest second-half schedule in the NFC North, a schedule that makes it more difficult to slop out wins like their first-half victories against the Lions and Packers.

The Bears offensive line, combined with Jay Cutler’s stupidity, has prevented Mike Martz from moving the offense forward. Both Martz and Cutler are both too stubborn to make any adjustments, so look for everyone to continue trying to figure out why Cutler continues to throw interceptions and not take live up to his talent. The Bears should get some continuity on the line in the second half, but when the line was terrible to start, will continuity make much of a difference?

Dom Capers has received most of the defensive-coordinator love in the North, but Rod Marinelli deserves some recognition too. Marinelli has the Bears playing the Tampa-2 scheme effectively again, which frees up the linebackers and defensive backs to force turnovers and make plays. But if teams take care of the football, is this defense still capable of carrying the team? I don’t think so.

The wild card for the Bears is Devin Hester, who appears to be rejuvenated in the return game. Teams that score on special teams are always in games and inevitably end up stealing a few (Exhibit A: the Arizona Cardinals. Exhibit B: the Bears). If Hester stays hot, the Bears might hang around and not end the season as dismally as I have predicted.

Lions

Current Record: 2-6 (4th)

Remaining Schedule:

@Bills (W 22-20)
@Cowboys (L 16-22)
Patriots (L 13-27)
Bears (W 23-21)
Packers (L 20-30)
@Bucs (L 10-17)
@Dolphins (W 22-21)
Vikings (L 13-34)

Final Record: 5-11 (4th)

If the Lions add a couple of competent defensive backs and offensive lineman next season, they will make the playoffs. Of course, Matt Stafford needs to stay healthy, but having a better offensive line should help alleviate that problem. For now, look for more of the same from the Lions in the second half : A lot of praise for their talented skill players and defensive line, fans pulling for them each week, and several reminders that they are sill, after all, the Lions.

Rookie Jahvid Best showed flashes of brilliance early, but has been slowed by a turf toe injury the last five weeks. If he gets healthy again, I think he can make some noise in the final eight weeks. Ndamukong Suh already has 6.5 sacks, which is a huge number for an interior lineman, rookie or otherwise. Julius Peppers received most of the offseason attention, but Kyle Vanden Bosch has arguably been just as big of an impact acquisition.

As improved as the defense is up front, it is still allowing over 233 passing yards and 130 rushing yards per game. The bright spot is that the defense is allowing fewer points than a year ago. Through nine weeks in 2009, the Lions allowed 237 points. The Lions have only allowed 188 points this season.

There is no question that the Lions are improving. The key to continued improvement will be better pass coverage and keeping Stafford in the game and out of a full body cast.

Playoffs

Wild Card
Packers 24, Giants 14
Falcons 27, Rams 16

Division Round
Eagles 27, Packers 24
Saints 22, Falcons 19

NFC Championship
Eagles 26, Saints 24

Super Bowl
Ravens 23, Eagles 9

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Adam Czech is a freelance reporter and a Packers fan living in the Twin Cities. Follow Adam on Twitter. Read more of Adam's writing on the Packers here.

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  • http://purplepantsgreenjersey.com Max

    Well done, Adam. I agree that the Vikes will make a run, but Chilly will – as he always does – find a way to screw things up.

  • http://www.nfcnnastynice.com ilovemypackers

    Wow! way to put it out there! lol, I don’t think the Vikings will win anything but 1 more game (Buffalo) and finish 4-12

  • Pauline

    I do not agree with very much at all in your predictions..Maybe the Bears melting down.. I think the Vikings will melt down too. There is too much going on in the locker room for that team… I will not predict any teams wins and losses, because of all the teams suffering injuries every week.. We can hope the injury bug is over for the Pack!! I predict the Packers with one more win then you do!

  • Ruppert

    Okay, so you’re saying the Eagles will win the East over the Giants, then make it all the way to the Super Bowl? Wow. I can’t say I see that type of run in the Eagles, but anything is possible.

    I think the Packers will win 1 of the next 2 games, and 1 of the two-game stretch that is the Pats/Giants. That might mean 11-5 or 10-6 if they lose one they shouldn’t. I still think a week 1 bye is well within reach.

    And I know the Bears look ugly at times, but I think they’re going to beat the Vikings this week. Look at each team’s turnover ratio, and look at the difference in Minnesota, statistically, between home games and road games. The Vikings could play “desperate” and win, but I’m picking Bears. Urlacher will be FIRED UP, too, because he didn’t get to face Favre last year thanks to injury. And I’m sure you remember how Urlacher has had a ton of big games against the ol’ gunslinger. There’s a reason the Vikings have lost 8 straight road games.

  • ZeroTolerance

    Loss to the Giants at home in the regular season, and then beating them in the playoffs. No.

  • ZeroTolerance

    Sorry, my mistake. Still I don’t thing GB can beat the Giants twice.

  • Charles

    Pack sweeps the Vikings this year. Defense is playing lights out, pass rush is too much for their OL. Pack probably loses to ATL, NYG, but don’t be surprised if they win in Foxborough. Stafford’s done, Lions can’t win more than one or two more games, and not vs. GB. Pack wins the division at 11-5 with a first round bye (10-6 at worst if they lose vs. NE). No other NFCN team makes the playoffs, or has a winning record.

    Re: road games against good quarterbacks, don’t expect that kind-of non-correlative streak to continue. Everybody has bad games.

  • Charles

    Also, Giants are winning NFCE. So . . . I don’t want to face them in the playoffs. We can beat the Eagles again.

  • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

    I also happen to thing the Vikings are not dead yet. You all should have learned one thing about Bret Favre – NEVER count him out, especially when things look the worst. He is one of the most resilient athletes any sport has ever known (like him or not).

  • Adam Czech

    One thing I did not mention about Favre is his turnover rate. Last season, he played way above his head as far as not turning the ball over. His turnover rate was naturally going to regress this year, but he has been especially careless with the ball, even by Brett Favre standards. If his turnover rate evens out to more accurateley reflect his career arch, that will also help the Vikings.

    I think the Eagles are much more talented than the Giants. The Giants also turn the ball over a ton.

    After last night, perhaps I need to reconsider having the Saints finish ahead of the Falcons.

    Who knows. The Cardinals will probably win the whole thing:)

  • rick pisaturo

    i see by your calculations, you have the Eagles beating the Giants in the east. I don’t think I agree there.

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    lets see, u have us losing to good teams and beating the easy ones…..not …this team has heart sir..we lose one more game….thats it …think it will be atlanta…no way we lose to queens….dont want to be in the trenches with u lol…beat the crap teams lose to the good ones…good call

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    one more thing …u sound like an eaglette fan

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    resilient yes, clutch in big games…nottttt…..brett has done squat since mikey holmgren left him….and i blame rhoades and sherman letting him get a big head

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      resilient and clutch are two very different things. That´s why I used the word resilient.

  • Adam Czech

    You consider the 6-2 Giants a “crap team?”

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    favored did not like playing for McCarthy,to much discipline,and TT could see it a mile away and ditched him…good call TT

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    CZECK,…the giants are frauds that frauds….wins seattle whip,dallas whip,chicago whip,panthers whip,houston whip,detroit whip…losses…indy big….titans big….equals….fraud

    • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

      Giants have the perfect team to win games as weather becomes a factor. Very good defense, good running game and a good enough passing game.

      • http://httl bill from jersey

        frauds al

        • http://allgbp.com Jersey Al

          I still respect their defense, but not their QB.

  • Tommy

    The Vikings WILL win the north….the pack will lose 5 of their final games

    • PackersRS

      Of course they will. Where have you been this whole season again?????

  • PackersRS

    AND you lost it when you predicted that the Eagles AND the Ravens will go that far…

    They won’t. Maybe the Ravens, but from what I’ve seen so far, I don’t think so. They haven’t been able to beat any team with a good QB (Falcons, Patriots, even Carson Palmer beat them). Their secondary is suspect.

    And I’ve seen the Eagles been dismantled both by us and by Tennessee to believe in them…

    Outside of the Bills and Cowboys, our season hasn’t been exactly a pushover so far. And all games we lost, we lost by 3 points.

    Three teams got me afraid.
    The Giants are playing really well in ALL aspects of the fiels. Their running game is playing well, Eli is playing lights out, their receivers are really good, and their D is ferocious.

    When the Saints want to play, they can play with anyone. If they reach the playoffs, look out.

    And the Steelers have ability in all aspects of the field. Their D is incredible, though outside of Ike Taylor, their corners aren’t very good. And Mendenhall is playing great, and we all know what Big Ben is capable of. Their OL is very weak, though.

  • Blair Patterson

    Wow! Really? The Eagles in the Super Bowl. I think the PAckers will win the NFC North at 11-5 beating the Vikings, Falcons, 49ers, Lions and Bears. I’ll agree with the Vikings at 8-8, but the Bears will be 7-9, and the Lions will be 6-10. Right now I don’t see any team better than the Packers in the NFC. When they beat the Falcons in three weeks I don’t think anyone will disagree with me. They will get at least third in the NFC but hopefully second or first. Most likely they wont get first with an 11-5 record, so if they get second they will have the first playoff week off. The Saints at number 5 will beat the Rams at number 4 and the Giants at number 3 will beat the Eagles at number 6. Th Packers will then beat the Saints, and the Falcons will beat the Giants. For the second time this year the Packers will beat the Falcons and go to the Super Bowl where they will once again face New York. However, in the Super Bowl the Packers will score a few touchdowns instead of just field goals and they’ll win. They already know how to beat the Jets.

  • Russell

    NFC Championship Game
    Giants 17 Packers 20

  • Chad Toporski

    Not sure whether that Bears @ Lions game is going to be 17-19 or 21-23? ;-)

  • Aaron

    I would hate to face Vick for a full 4 Quarters. That guy is nuts. I think the Giants are the best team in the NFC right now just because of their health and experience. We will be having 2nd and 3rd stringers at the beginning of this season, starting the rest of the year.. heading into the playoffs, thats when having that experience is needed. I predict we go 5-2 in our last 7 games (losses to Falcons and Patriots) then win our wild card game against the Falcons (we’ll be at home for that game) and then lose to the Saints or Giants in the divisional round.

  • Adam Czech

    See! Just like I predicted: The Vikings get killed by the Bears and the Lions lose to the Bills:)

  • http://httl bill from jersey

    me 2….GIANTS ARE FRAUDS….period