The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the Green Bay Packers after their trouncing by the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night football. The Packers have two weeks to get several guys back healthy, most notably quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who tweaked his hamstring on a run early in the second half. Rodgers finished most of the game and has already said he doesn’t plan on missing any time. Also injured was offensive lineman TJ Lang, who reportedly has a good chance of returning after the bye. While this loss doesn’t derail the Packers’ season by any means, they do need to regroup and avoid falling into any type of slump with division-leading Detroit continuing to win games.
Speaking of the Lions, also on a bye this week, they pulled their second Houdini act in as many weeks, escaping London with a win over the Atlanta Falcons. The week prior, Detroit benefited from a fourth-down pass interference penalty by the Saints to toss a late game-winning touchdown. Detroit is now a game-and-a-half ahead of the Packers for the NFC North lead. Say what you will about the Lions and their tendency to fall apart late in the season, but this year’s team, under head coach Jim Caldwell, is finding ways to win games, not lose them. The back half of the schedule will be challenging for Detroit, with road games at Arizona, New England, Chicago and Green Bay.
The Bears lost another one in grand fashion, this time to the New England Patriots. It was the Bears’ fourth loss in five games and tensions are getting higher in the Chicago locker room. Receiver Brandon Marshall was, again, visibly upset during the game and the frustrations are mounting. Things get no easier for the Bears, as they have their bye week and will then face the Packers in Green Bay, where the Packers are typically tough to beat. Chicago is now 3-5 and tied for last place in the division with the Minnesota Vikings. It’s officially panic time in Chicago as they’re not playing well and there doesn’t appear to be a clear-cut solution.
The Vikings have the lone game in the division this week as they host the Washington Redskins. Washington got a huge win on the road against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football and will get quarterback Robert Griffin III back to boot.
Washington Redskins (3-5) at Minnesota Vikings (3-5)
The Vikings pulled out an overtime win in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers when Minnesota linebacker Anthony Barr returned an Austin Seferian-Jenkins fumble for a touchdown. Tampa has proven to be very beatable this year and have won only one game. They have not won at home.
The win improved the Vikings to 3-5 and a tie with the Bears for last place in the division. There doesn’t appear to be a lot of hope that Minnesota can make any type of run this season, but they may be able to avoid the basement if Chicago continues to slide and the Vikings can find a way to win a few along the way.
As for this game, it’s two 3-5 teams coming off of big, emotional wins. It’s games like that that can lead to some inspired football down the stretch. With Griffin getting the start for Washington, there will be some added excitement to this contest. Minnesota’s Teddy Bridgewater continues to learn on the job and can run himself, when needed. If he can limit the mistakes that have plagued him so far, he can give the ‘Skins a run for their money at The Bank on Sunday.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: