We're Black and Blue All Over:
A few weeks ago, we broke down one version of why the Chicago Bears beat out the Green Bay Packers for the NFC North title. Among the reasons were the Bears' nearly perfect health in comparison to the Packers' relative slew of injuries.
I haven't figured out the Packers' final tally, but Monday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy let slip the final total: 206. When it's all said and done, that's how many starts Packers players missed this season due to injury, according to team records.
"I didn't realize it was that high," McCarthy said.
Long after the 2010 playoffs are complete, that number will be a calling card for the Packers' season. Did injuries scuttle the Packers' chances to make a Super Bowl run? Or will they symbolize the finest hour for McCarthy and his remaining players?
For what it's worth, the Packers had no new injuries out of their 10-3 victory over the Chicago Bears. They also haven't ruled out the return of two defensive starters: Defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf) and linebacker Frank Zombo (knee).
Continuing around the NFC North:
The Packers know the playoffs can be unpredictable, writes Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Packers are counting on their defense to lead them in the playoffs, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "Mike McCarthy did not spend much time pondering the existential question Monday. He may have an offensive background, but when it comes to winning championships, the Green Bay Packers coach firmly believes that having a great defense is more important than having an elite quarterback or explosive offense."
The Chicago Bears' playoff push began during their bye week, writes ESPNChicago.com's Michael C. Wright.
Offensive coordinator Mike Martz made big changes during that bye, notes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bears coach Lovie Smith is now tied for second place in seniority in the NFC, notes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
The Detroit Lions' talk of making the playoffs in 2011 has credibility, writes Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press.
Having a healthy Matthew Stafford is the "golden ticket" for the Lions, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz reiterated that great things are ahead for this team, notes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.
Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf told a small group of reporters they plan no changes to the team's front office, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Vikings receiver Bernard Berrian believes he will return to Minnesota next season, notes the Star Tribune.
The Wilfs determined that former coach Brad Childress had too much power within the organization, writes Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune.