The division is too close to call and too mediocre to watch. Who will end up as the best of the worst?
At some point Thursday, your eyelids will become heavy as you lounge on the couch, watching football, your belly pleasantly stuffed with turkey.
As you settle in for your annual Thanksgiving snooze, ask yourself this pertinent question: Is it overindulging or the NFC North that is inducing your sleep?
The North foursome has a combined record of 19-23-2 this season. The Lions and Bears sit atop at 6-5, followed by the Packers at 5-5-1. The Vikings are jockeying for draft pick status and picked the wrong season to be bad (2-8-1).
Thanksgiving week brings a pair of intradivisional matchups — Green Bay vs. Detroit on Thursday, the Bears vs. Vikings on Sunday — and with five games remaining, the race looks as wide open as the Mojave Desert.
Last week was a real doozy for the division. The Lions lost to the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bears got steamrollered by the St. Louis Rams. And the Vikings and Packers shook hands after a 26-26 tie.
The Lions briefly appeared to be in the driver’s seat, but they lost back-to-back game to teams with losing records, which prompted running back Reggie Bush to say his team needed a “players-only” meeting.
Does anyone want to win this division?
“It’s going to be real tight,” Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews said last week. “It obviously is going to come down to these divisional games right here. That’s why there’s extra emphasis on coming away with these victories, because if you start letting these slide, the chances of reaching the playoffs are very difficult.”
How did they arrive at this point?
This is the only place to start when analyzing the division. The four teams have combined to use 10 different quarterbacks. The Packers are down to their fourth quarterback, Matt Flynn, who rejoined the team a few weeks ago and led Sunday’s comeback against the Vikings.
Aaron Rodgers returned to practice this week after suffering a broken collarbone, but he is still not ready to play. In his absence, the Packers are winless and look decidedly ordinary.
The Vikings played musical chairs at quarterback the first part of the season before circling back to Christian Ponder, who will start his sixth consecutive game Sunday.
Ponder’s counterpart will be Josh McCown, who is expected to make his third consecutive start for the Bears in place of injured Jay Cutler (high ankle sprain).
Detroit’s Matthew Stafford is the only starting quarterback in the division that has survived the first 11 games unscathed.
On the run
Yes, the NFL has morphed into a passing league, but teams still must be able to stop the run, and the NFC North has lagged in that area.
|Tampa Bay||12:05 PM|
|Chicago Cubs||3:05 PM|
|LA Angels||3:05 PM|
|Chicago WSox||3:05 PM|
|Kansas City||3:05 PM|
|San Diego||3:10 PM|
|Los Angeles||8:00 PM|
|NY Islanders||9:00 PM|
|MD-Eastern Shore||5:30 PM|
|William & Mary||6:00 PM|
|Kent State||6:00 PM|
|Ball State||6:00 PM|
|North Dakota St|
|Central Mich||6:30 PM|
|Bowling Green||7:00 PM|
|St Marys-CA||8:00 PM|
|SC State||8:00 PM|
|Western Carolina||8:00 PM|
|South Dakota St||8:30 PM|
|San Francisco||10:00 PM|
|Delaware State||10||1st Half 11:34|
|South Dakota||12:00 PM|
|South Dakota St|
|Morgan State||12:30 PM|
|St Marys-CA||2:00 PM|
|Stony Brook||3:00 PM|
|MD-Eastern Shore||3:00 PM|
|Northern Ill||4:00 PM|
|New Mexico||4:00 PM|
|(3) Louisville||6:00 PM|
|Kent State||6:00 PM|
|Ohio U||6:00 PM|
|American Univ||6:00 PM|
|Holy Cross||6:00 PM|
|San Jose St||6:30 PM|
|(7) West Virginia||8:00 PM|
|Air Force||9:00 PM|
|San Diego State|
|Aug 9 - vs. Houston||7 pm||X||27-13|
|Aug 16 - at Buffalo||6 pm||X||20-16|
|Aug 25 - at San Francisco||7 pm||X||34-14|
|Aug 29 - vs. Tennessee||7 pm||X||24-23|
|2013 regular season|
|Sep 8 - at Detroit||Noon||X||34-24|
|Sep 15 - at Chicago||Noon||X||31-30|
|Sep 22 - vs. Cleveland||Noon||X||31-27|
|Sep 29 - vs. Pittsburgh (in London)||Noon||X||34-27|
|Oct 6 - Bye|
|Oct 13 - vs. Carolina||Noon||X||35-10|
|Oct 21 - at. NY Giants||7:40 pm||X||23-7|
|Oct 27 - vs. Green Bay||7:30 pm||X||44-31|
|Nov 3 - at Dallas||Noon||X||27-23|
|Nov 7 - vs. Washington||7:25 pm||X||34-27|
|Nov 17 - at Seattle||3:25 pm||X||41-20|
|Nov. 24 - at Green Bay||Noon||26-26|
|Dec 1 - vs. Chicago||Noon||X||23-20|
|Dec 8 - at Baltimore||Noon||X||29-26|
|Dec 15 - vs. Philadelphia||Noon||X||48-30|
|Dec 22 - at Cincinnati||Noon||X||42-14|
|Dec 29 - vs. Detroit||Noon||X||14-13|
Poll: Which free-agent quarterback would you most like the Vikings to sign?