We're Black and Blue All Over:
Here's where we stand after eight weeks of our 16-game NFC North season:
Green Bay Packers (5-3)
Chicago Bears (4-3)
Minnesota Vikings (2-5)
Detroit Lions (2-5)
The Bears will return from their bye this week, while the Packers could be 6-3 entering their bye if they can take care of business against the struggling Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night at Lambeau Field. But as you can see, everyone is within 2 1/2 games of each other. Some teams are playing better than others, but the numbers tell us this is still anyone's division.
Free Head Exams are upcoming all around. But first, let's take our morning spin around the division while I make my way back to Black and Blue blog headquarters:
A 28-18 loss to the New England Patriots has Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press calling for the end of coach Brad Childress' tenure.
The Vikings have only six sacks in seven games, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com. Defensive end Jared Allen said: "We pride ourselves on stopping the run and making plays like that, but it comes to a point where we've got to figure something out. We know teams are going to do certain things against us, but we had opportunities [Sunday] and we had opportunities the last couple weeks. We have opportunities every game. So, we've just got to take advantage of them."
The Vikings' defense couldn't stop the Patriots when trailing by three points in the fourth quarter Sunday, writes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
Vikings receiver Percy Harvin will have his injured left ankle examined this week, notes the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "The Packers fooled a lot of people by beating the Jets at their own game. They used a ferocious brand of defense that suffocated the life out of the Jets. That kind of domination was surprising, except to the players in the Packers’ locker room."
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com on Packers punter Tim Masthay: "On a day when the offense was out of sync and the defense was forcing turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble recovery, plus a pair of fourth-down stops), the Packers’ first-year punter was one of their MVPs. Masthay punted eight times, averaging 44.0 gross yards, 41.5 net yards and 4.51 seconds of hang time, with five of his kicks being downed inside the 20-yard line and only one resulting in a touchback. The Jets were forced to fair-catch three of the punts and registered zero return yards."
The Packers didn't commit a turnover Sunday for the first time this season, according to Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Sunday was the Packers' first road shutout since 1991, notes Wilde.
Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson caught a career-high three touchdown passes despite pain from a sprained shoulder that caused him to leave Sunday's 37-25 victory over the Washington Redskins three times. Chris McCosky of the Detroit News has more.
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News writes that the seeds of this victory were planted by the Lions' seven sacks, including two from dominating rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com: "The Lions have been in these situations before -- make some big plays, claw to the brink of victory only to see the other team make an even bigger play to pull out the win. Today, it's the Redskins who are trying to figure out what went wrong."
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "The Lions got their second straight home victory. That’s the equivalent of a six-game winning streak for an established good team, but it’s another important little step in this team’s gradual improvement."
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune offers a surprising but reasonable argument for why the Chicago Bears should "play better in the second half of the season than they have in the first."