We're Black and Blue All Over:
FROM AN OUTPOST ALONG HWY. 29 IN WISCONSIN -- I've started the trek back to NFC North blog headquarters but wanted to stop and get the blog caught up. It also seemed like a good idea to get some sleep and sit out the wintry mix I'm seeing out the window.
Sunday night's wild finish in Dallas essentially added a contender to what is now a four-team wild-card race in the NFC. As the ESPN.com playoff standings show, the Detroit Lions currently hold of the No. 6 seed by virtue of their 8-5 record. At 7-6, the Chicago Bears are looking up at the Lions and Atlanta Falcons, but have the advantage over the 7-6 Dallas Cowboys because of a better conference record.
In the weekly ebb and flow of the NFL season, things are looking up for the Lions. They will get defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh back from his NFL suspension Monday and are set to face an Oakland Raiders team that I can tell you from first-hand observation is playing terribly right now.
The Bears are reeling at the moment. Normally I would say they have a favorable home matchup approaching Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, who will have a short week of practice after playing Monday night against the St. Louis Rams, but that's what I said about the Bears two weeks ago when they hosted the Kansas City Chiefs. Such is life….
Let's take a quick spin around the division, shall we?
Bears running back Marion Barber made two crucial mistakes late in Sunday's 13-10 loss to the Denver Broncos. Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com takes you through them.
Barber rarely speaks to the media and didn't break that policy after Sunday's game. Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times wasn't impressed.
Bears defensive end Israel Idonije thought he had a chance to block Matt Prater's 51-yard field goal in overtime, notes Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher offered an already-infamous quote about Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Urlacher: "He’s a good running back."
Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press after the Lions' victory against the Minnesota Vikings: "Wins are the only currency that counts in December. The Lions' 34-28 collective sigh of relief keeps them in the NFC playoff hunt, but they still resemble a team gunning for big game with nothing more than a cap pistol. This isn't a good team. It's a lucky team."
Lions defensive end Cliff Avril, who has a career-high nine sacks, made a difference on the final play of the game. Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News takes us through it.
The Lions are learning what it takes to sacrifice themselves for a playoff run, writes John Niyo of the News.
Lions cornerback Alphonso Smith continues to be a playmaker, writes Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com.
Green Bay Packers tailback Ryan Grant had a big day Sunday against the Oakland Raiders. Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains.
Packers players are bracing for life without receiver Greg Jennings, who suffered a left knee injury Sunday. Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has more.
Tom Oates of the Wisconsin State Journal on the Packers gunning for 16-0: "That’s admirable, but is it prudent?"
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Suddenly, the ghost of Joe Webb is hovering over the Vikings organization."
Sunday showed that the Vikings need to get Webb on the field somehow, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press goes behind the scenes on the final play of the game.
The Vikings benched ineffective cornerback Cedric Griffin, who wasn't happy about it and hinted he wants to leave the organization. Mark Craig of the Star Tribune has more.