I've finally arrived back at NFC North blog headquarters, so let's catch up on what I missed this afternoon with an expanded NFC North at night post. We'll lead off with some thoughts on the division's only 13-0 team:
As far as I'm concerned, we shouldn't see Jennings back on the field before the Packers' first playoff game on the weekend of January 14-15. I'm fine with the Packers keeping their foot to the floor, but rushing back their best receiver when he'll have a bye week in between the regular season and the playoffs doesn't make any sense.
It's true that wide receiver is probably the deepest position on the Packers' roster, but I don't agree with those of you who suggest that Jennings' absence wouldn't impact the team. I don't know if it would be quantifiable, but there are some things that Jennings does in terms of route running and beating opponents' best defenders that aren't interchangeable skills. The Packers will get plenty or production from their receivers over the next few weeks, but let's not diminish the impact of one of the best players at his position in the game.
"I'd be very surprised if it showed up on his radar again," Schwartz said. "He is a very prideful person. He wants to do anything he can to do help the team so I would be surprised if something like that happened again."
In the end, I don't think Suh's absence impacted the Lions' won-loss record. It would have been tough to beat the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome even with him two weeks ago, and they beat the Minnesota Vikings without him Sunday.
Minnesota Vikings: Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com reports that cornerback Antoine Winfield's season-ending injury triggered a clause in his contract that will lower his 2012 base salary from $7 million to $3 million. Winfield, who could earn back the difference through incentives, said he plans to return to the Vikings next season.
Chicago Bears: It's clear that Sunday's overtime loss to the Denver Broncos hit coach Lovie Smith hard. Here's what he told reporters Monday, via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune: "One of the toughest ones I've had to deal with, we've had to deal with. I think to a man most of the guys in the locker room would say that. We normally celebrate when we have a game in control like that late in the game. We haven't been in this position very often, if at all, we don't like. Now, it's what we do. It's how we respond. And we will respond."