By this time of year, divisional races tend to form into relatively concrete molds and that is truly the case with the NFC North.
The Packers thrashed the Vikings 31-3 in front of a disappointed Mall of America Field crowd on Sunday, seemingly wiping out any remaining playoff hopes for the Purple. With the win, Green Bay moved into a 1st-place tie with the Chicago Bears atop the division at 7-3 – 4 games ahead of the Vikings with 6 remaining.
We won’t delve into the Vikings loss since it’s been well-chronicled over the past 20 hours, but it’s clear that the Packers may have doused the pilot light on the Vikings playoff flame. But regardless of Sunday’s outcome, let’s take a look around the division.
The Bears played their Week 11 game on Thursday night against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium and came out victorious by a mark of 16-0.
Just 4 days removed from a home victory over the Vikings, the Bears defense continued its dominance by shutting out the Dolphins and holding them to 187 total yards of offense.
Chicago tallied 6 sacks in the contest, led by DE Julius Peppers with 3.0. LB Lance Briggs recorded a team-high 7 stops and CB Charles Tillman grabbed an INT.
K Robbie Gould provided most of the Bears points with 3 FGs from 46, 24 and 50 yards while RB Matt Forte ran in the lone TD on a 2-yard plunge.
The Bears will host the red-hot Philadelphia Eagles (7-3) next Sunday in a matchup between NFC divisional leaders.
On the other spectrum of the NFC North, the Detroit Lions couldn’t manage to climb out of their losing rut by falling to the resurging Dallas Cowboys 35-19 in Arlington, Texas.
Despite holding a 5-point lead midway through the 3rd quarter, the Lions couldn’t take advantage of punt placed near the goal line as it was batted out of the endzone and then bounced into the hands of Dallas’ Bryan McCann, who returned it 97 yards for the go-ahead TD.
Dallas tacked on 3 more TDs after the punt return, dropping the Lions to 2-8. Detroit has now lost an NFL record 26 road games in a row dating back to the 2007 season.
The Lions will host the New England Patriots (8-2) in their annual Thanksgiving Day game this Thursday at Ford Field.
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