We're Black and Blue All Over:
It looks like we're set for some honest-to-goodness NFC North weather for this weekend's marquee matchup between the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots. Initial weather forecasts are calling for a high of 21 degrees, with winds potentially over 20 miles per hour and a 60 percent chance of snow. Sunday's low in the Chicago area will be 5 degrees.
Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com examines the Bears' history in such games, noting they are 15-5 in the 20 coldest games in team history. But the Patriots are used to playing in cold temperatures themselves. If there is an advantage to be had Sunday, it is more likely to be based on the condition of the Soldier Field turf than the weather.
The field has been re-sodded since the Bears' last home game, but it's hard to imagine the grass has taken much root. It will be sloppy, and it stands to reason the Bears will have a better idea of how to prepare for it than the Patriots. I don't think it will decide the outcome of the game, but it will be something to consider as kickoff approaches.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Bears linebackers Nick Roach (hip) and Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee) remain question marks for this game, notes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Bill Belichick sees what every other coach sees when he studies the Bears' defense. The greatest coaching mind of his generation speaks glowingly about Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, who not only are playing side by side at an elite level but are playing as well together as few that have come before."
Green Bay Packers safety Atari Bigby (hamstring) practiced Thursday for the first time in two weeks, notes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette doesn't understand why the Packers risk cornerback Tramon Williams on punt returns.
When you eliminate kneel-downs, which count as running plays, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has gained 295 yards on 42 carries this season, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Ben Leber, a pending free agent, seems certain to hit the open market this offseason, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.
Vikings left guard Steve Hutchinson is on the decline, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press examines the possibilities surrounding Vikings rookie Joe Webb.
Tailback Jahvid Best's 45-yard run last Sunday changed the perception of the Detroit Lions' running game, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
Did the Lions lose defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch for the season on an illegal block? That's one of many questions the Lions are asking, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
It appears Lions cornerback Chris Houston is headed for free agency, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.