We're Black and Blue All Over:
Thanks to everyone who participated in Thursday's late-night Twitter discussion on the draft ramifications of the Indianapolis Colts' last-second upset of the Houston Texans. From an NFC North perspective, here's what I can tell you: If you're hoping the Minnesota Vikings will parlay the result into the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 draft, you need to root for another Colts victory.
Based on research from ESPN Stats & Information, the Vikings would lose the tiebreaker with the Colts if they both finish 2-14. The St. Louis Rams would likely have the No. 3 pick in that scenario if they are also 2-14.
Ties are broken in reverse order of strength of schedule (SOS), and the Indianapolis Star has an easy-to-read projection of each team's SOS through 16 games. The Rams currently have a lower SOS than the Vikings, but those figures could swap when you consider the Rams finish the season against the 10-4 Pittsburgh Steelers and the 11-3 San Francisco 49ers. The Vikings' final two games are against the 5-9 Washington Redskins and 7-7 Chicago Bears.
I know it's complicated and more than you're probably willing to think about on the morning of December 23. But in terms of the No. 1 overall pick, the Vikings' best-case scenario is for the Colts to win next weekend against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Combined with two more losses by the Vikings, of course.) That would leave the Colts 3-13 and the Vikings sweating out the SOS tiebreaker with the potentially 2-14 Rams, which they have a good chance of winning based on Week 16 and 17 matchups.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier expressed support for offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and said he will return in 2012, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.
Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson is ready for a full-game workload, writes Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune.
Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press speaks with Vikings defensive backs coach Joe Woods, whose group has had its struggles this season.
It appears the Chicago Bears will start Kahlil Bell at tailback Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, according to Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune. Veteran Marion Barber hasn't practiced this week because of a calf injury.
The Bears tried to sign free agent quarterback Matt Moore in July, according to Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears' offense has been at the root of their four-game losing streak, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher on the offense, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com: "We can’t let it get to us. Our mindset is [to] go back out there and take the ball away for our offense. That's all we can do; just go out there and try and get three-and-outs ourselves or take the ball away. We don't think about it. I mean, we have a hard enough time ourselves. We can't be worried about what happens on offense."
Detroit Lions veterans Jeff Backus and Dominic Raiola aren't getting too hyped about Saturday's potential playoff-clinching game, writes Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press.
The Lions are trusting tight end Brandon Pettigrew despite a series of drops this season, writes John Niyo of the Detroit News.
Making the playoffs is "really important to us," according to Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham. Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com has more.
The Green Bay Packers are getting back to basics in their efforts to limit drops, writes Kareem Copeland of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers tight end Jermichael Finley has been a social media lightening rod, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com examines the Packers' intentions for the Wildcat offense with receiver Randall Cobb.