We're Black and Blue All Over:
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- All told, Week 9 was pretty good to the NFC North. We won three of four games, and the one loss wasn't exactly unpredicted. As @jc74 noted late Sunday, we are the only division in football with all four teams at or above. 500.
Here's how the standings shape up as we move into the second half of the season.
Chicago Bears (7-1)
Green Bay Packers (6-3)
Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
Detroit Lions (4-4)
The Lions have an opportunity to flip spots with the Vikings if they can win this Sunday at the Metrodome. The Packers are on a four-game winning streak.
But the story of the week is the Bears, who broke the 50-point barrier for only the second time in franchise history during the Super Bowl era, including a team-record 28 points in the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans. They scored four offensive touchdowns, one on defense and one on special teams in a 51-20 victory, their sixth in a row.
As a result, Monday morning's tour will begin with the Bears. I'm heading back to NFC North blog headquarters but hopefully will have posts coming at you throughout the day.
Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com: "From the bars on Broadway to brunch at Vanderbilt to the actual game on the field, it was an orange-and-blue invasion all weekend. While the fans ate and partied, the Bears continued to gorge on the AFC South."
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune: "But even in the glow of all this, there are two things worth questioning about the Bears as they head into the meat of their schedule. Can they continue to keep playing offense on defense? And can they continue to do more than 'hold 'em' on offense?"
Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher looked like a young man on his 46-yard interception return for a touchdown, writes David Haugh of the Tribune.
Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: "But I’m guessing at some point, the offense is going to have to get serious and earn its keep. It’s going to have to bail out the defense. Actually win a game on its own."
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "It says something about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers that he threw four touchdown passes on Sunday and was disappointed with his performance."
Packers receiver Randall Cobb has a chance to break the NFL record for most all-purpose yards in an NFL season, notes Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby is tired of talking about missed kicks and wants to get himself straightened out, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Jeff Seidel of the Detroit Free Press on the Lions' thorough victory over the Jaguars: "The Lions dominated the line of scrimmage. They dominated on defense. And they dominated in total domination. At one point, the Lions had 171 yards of offense, and Jacksonville had 8. This wasn't a game. This was a total mismatch. This was Bruce Springsteen versus the cast from 'Glee.' This was 'Homeland' versus anything on network television."
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "Less flash, more mash. It's partly out of necessity because Calvin Johnson is really hurting, but it's also the required evolution if the Lions (4-4) plan to be regular playoff contenders. Generally, if Johnson is hurting, the offense is wailing. Gradually, the Lions are finding other ways to inflict pain."
Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan called the game after Johnson told him which routes he could run with his ailing knee, according to Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "The Vikings' entire passing game is a mess. Notice that I said entire passing game and not just Christian Ponder, although Ponder certainly is a mess. But it's more than that. It's the blocking; it's the failure to pick up the blitz; it's the inability of a subpar group of receivers to get open; it's curious play calling. And, of course, it is Ponder, who appears lost."
Ponder isn't passing the "eye test," writes Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune.
The Vikings have no interest in benching Ponder, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.