We're Black and Blue All Over:
The Green Bay Packers have increased their per-game scoring average about 30 percent over last year and their total yards by about 11 percent. It's hard not to attribute that rise in part to the return of tight end Jermichael Finley, a factor Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel considers fairly in this piece.
Finley has caught 42 passes for 600 yards and six touchdowns. He's also dropped nine passes, according to Silverstein, and had four false-start penalties. But he is playing all over the field, regularly appearing at five different positions in the Packers' offense, and personnel people around the NFL believe he has made a notable impact on coverage the Packers' wide receivers are getting.
Writes Silverstein: "Finley's value to the 2011 Packers is best quantified in team production."
Continuing around the NFC North:
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wonders whether the Packers' offense will slow down in cold weather. Three of their final four games are at Lambeau Field.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on the reported interest of quarterbacks coach Tom Clements in the Penn State coaching job, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "I think if anyone could go into that situation and handle it with dignity and class, it would be Tom Clements."
Vikings owner Zygi Wilf made a hasty decision in hiring coach Leslie Frazier last winter and it hasn't paid off, writes Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune.
The city of Minneapolis has narrowed down its stadium sites to one: the current Metrodome site. Doug Belden of the St. Paul Pioneer Press has more.
Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com checks in with Vikings backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels.
Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com looks at the Detroit Lions' playoff picture.
Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew apologized via statement for the costly penalty he received Sunday night against the New Orleans Saints, according to Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Were it not for the penalties, more people would be talking about the game Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had in New Orleans. Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press explains.
The Chicago Bears are showing how important quarterback Jay Cutler is to their success, writes Mike Mulligan of the Chicago Tribune.
Bears receiver Earl Bennett said he might wear his illegal orange cleats for the Bears' Week 16 game at Lambeau Field. Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com has more.
Bears coach Lovie Smith said he hasn't made any decisions to change his offensive coordinator this winter, but Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times notes that Smith didn't offer current coordinator Mike Martz any form of public support.