We're Black and Blue All Over:
Well then. Here's the divisional upshot of Monday night's debacle at Candlestick Park: The Chicago Bears have relinquished sole possession of first place in the NFC North after 10 weeks of at least sharing the lead.
The Bears and Green Bay Packers both have 7-3 records after the Bears' 32-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. But if the NFL needed to break the tie, the Packers would get the virtual nod because of their Week 2 victory over the Bears. The Minnesota Vikings are just one game behind at 6-4, and in reality all three teams have a clear path to the division title by winning their remaining six games.
Hang on, folks. We're in for a wild ride.
I'll have an updated look at the NFC playoff standings a bit later, along with our usual Tuesday trappings. For the moment, let's take our morning tour around the division:
Monday night, the Bears "trotted out a game plan that looked straight out of 'Friday Night Lights,' writes Michael Wilbon of ESPNChicago.com.
Bears receiver Brandon Marshall admitted he had a sideline altercation with a teammate late in the game, but his explanation didn't make complete sense, writes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: "That big, bad Bears defense, the one known for a ferocious pass rush and an addiction to forcing turnovers, got positively shredded by a guy who walked onto the field with 31 passes in a nine-game NFL 'career.'"
Backup quarterback Jason Campbell didn't give the Bears much of a spark, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears can't be considered among the NFL's elite teams after that performance, writes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
Anwar S. Richardson of Mlive.com: "[Detroit] Lions general manager Martin Mayhew has been ridiculed for acquiring more receivers than an senior citizen accumulating blue topaz jewelry on the Home Shopping Network. It now appears Mayhew's infatuation with that position could come in handy."
It appears the end of left tackle Jeff Backus' consecutive games-played streak is near, writes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News.
Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley played the best game of his career Sunday against the Packers, notes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
The Packers will be able to test their defensive improvement Sunday night against the New York Giants, writes Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Packers thought tailback James Starks missed some opportunities for longer runs Sunday, and it appears he will rotate with Alex Green against the Giants, writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Packers place-kicker Mason Crosby met with special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum on Monday to map out a plan for improvement, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Vikings defensive end Jared Allen on the team's upcoming trip to Soldier Field, via Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "We are in position to control our own destiny, and that's all you can ask for, is to have the ability to win football games and get where we need to. Right now, we're 2-0 in our division, which is phenomenal, and we have three straight division games. That could easily determine where we're sitting."
Dan Wiederer of the Star Tribune on the Vikings' recent woes in Chicago: "In the Vikings' past four visits to the Windy City, the Bears have scored 28 times -- 17 touchdowns, 10 field goals and a safety. In that span, the Vikings defense has allowed nine scoring drives that began on their half of the field. Chicago also has a kickoff return score, a blocked punt touchdown and two fumble recovery TDs."
The Vikings know they will have to protect the ball against the Bears' defense, notes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.