NFL

Six Things To Know About The NFC North

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The Green Bay Packers have won the NFC North the last four years and appear to be heading toward their fifth-straight division crown.

Aaron Rodgers took the dramatics to the extreme last Thursday night at Ford Field where he launched a football that nearly reached orbit before landing in the hands of tight end Richard Rodgers. The 61-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass with no time left improved the Packers record to 8-4.

It was another step towards their fifth straight division title as Green Bay look to get hot after a rough mid-season stretch with a 1-4 record between Weeks 8-12.

Here are six other things about the Green Bay Packers and the entire NFC North.

Doctor Jekyll And Mr. Hyde A.K.A. Eddie Lacy

Only two years ago, Eddie Lacy was the 2013 Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for 1,178 yards and 11 touchdowns. He followed up his sensational rookie season with a spectacular sophomore campaign where Lacy rushed for 1,139 yards and nine touchdowns.

Lacy has found it very difficult to remain consistently productive this year, going from bona fide battering ram in some games…then turning into a street free agent at best on other Sunday afternoons.

His best Dr. Jekyll performances have covered four games out of his 11 played. In those particular games Lacy has rushed for 380 yards (95 yards per game) with 5.05 yards per carry. Then Mr. Hyde creeps into the jersey of No. 27 and the man we know of as Eddie Lacy vanishes.

In those four games lacy has 17 carries for 26 rushing yards and in three of those games he failed to reach 10 yards for the entire game (1.97 yards per carry).

The Packers are going to need Doctor Jekyll if they want to win the NFC North and win in the playoffs.

 

Eric Ebron Is 22 Years Old – Why Is That Important?

The Lions No. 1 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft was second-year tight end Eric Erbon. He was born April 10, 1993.

Currently, Detroit is 4-8 and zero chance (basically) of winning the NFC North.

The last time the Lions won the NFC North, their 2015 first-round pick (Eric Erbon) was only nine months old. Yep the NFC North crown for the Detroit Lions came 22 years ago in 1993 when Ebron was wearing diapers.

Ebron and the Lions are surging right now, playing their best football and the future seems bright for that offense.  If he can stay productive, next year will be much more productive in the win-loss column for Detroit.

The Truth About The Minnesota Vikings

“We’re not as good as we think we are,” said Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer after the thrashing at home by the Seattle Seahawks 38-7.

Mr. Zimmer I could not agree more and glad you said it because no one believes me.

The Vikings are 8-4 and that looks pretty good on paper and likely will be enough to earn them a place in the playoffs. The reality of the situation is the Vikings only win against a winning team came against the formerly 6-5 Atlanta Falcons, who are now 6-6 and losers of six of their last seven games.

Minnesota is one-dimensional on offense with Adrian Peterson up the middle, Peterson to the right and Peterson to the left. Once teams can get a jump on the inadequate Vikings offense, the team has little chance of moving the football for quick points.

Think about how disgusting the St. Louis Rams passing attack is and now know that Minnesota has only 13 more yards passing than the Rams. Minnesota ranks 31st in the NFL in passing offense, which leaves the entire game plan revolving around Peterson and the defense. Teddy Bridgewater has 2,398 passing yards along with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.

 

Sly As A Fox

The Chicago Bears are 5-7 and have an outside chance of earning a wildcard spot in the playoffs. A lot of their success can be attributed to new head coach John Fox. Fox began coaching in 2002 with the Carolina Panthers and finished 7-9. He quickly helped the Panthers become a very dominant force and went to the Super Bowl. He had three 10-win seasons with the Panthers.

After his nine year stint in Carolina, Fox took over in Denver and coached the Broncos for four years. His first-year record with the team was 8-8 followed by three straight 10-win seasons and a trip to the Super Bowl.

The Bears have exceeded expectations and Fox has his no-name defense playing at a very high level. Last season Chicago ranked 30th overall in defense and currently reside just outside the top ten at 12th overall.

History shows that Fox is very good at quickly igniting a fire and having success early in each if his three different tenures with the Panthers, Broncos and Bears.

 

The Good Jay Cutler Emerges

The gloomy persona given off by Jay Cutler seems to have disappeared this season. He has shown leadership qualities and appears to be enjoying his first season with John Fox as head coach.

“I think with this group, this coaching staff brought out our complete energy and ability,” said Cutler during a conference call prior to the Bears Week 11 game against the Broncos. “It’s a fun group to work with. I really enjoy the coaching staff. I think that we have a really good locker room. It has been a fun year so far.”

The direction of first-year offensive coordinator Adam Gase has helped Cutler do more with less. He has his best passer rating (90.1) in his 10-year career. He also has worked with his all-star cast of Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett. The trio has missed six games combined and Bennett was placed on Injured Reserve this week.

The strong-armed quarterbacks poise and posture have been impressive enough to have the Bears enter the off-season without flirting with the idea of putting Cutler on the market.

 

Adrian Peterson A “Switch” In The History Books

Peterson is 30-years old and playing some of the best football of his illustrious nine-year career. Last year, Peterson appeared in only one game for the Vikings and then was suspended missing 15 games that resulted from hitting his child with a switch.

The tarnished image of one of the game’s very best running backs may ultimately see it in his final numbers when he retires. His age makes it increasingly difficult to catch the NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith. Smith has 18,355 rushing yards, compared to Peterson’s 11,372.

Peterson is 6,983 rushing yards away from a football monster of an NFL statistic. Missing nearly the entire 2014 season puts a real dent in his chances. Peterson is averaging a league-high 98.5 yards per game and leading the NFL with 1,182 rushing yards.

Even finishing with 1,300 yards, the Pro Bowl running back will have to average 1,397 yards over the next five years to catch Smith. It is hard to imagine even as good as Peterson is that he could continue that type of pace until he turns 35 or even 36-years old.


About Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte

Bo Marchionte is an NFL writer for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade. His background includes being staff for the Texas vs. The Nation All-Star game as a talent evaluator for player personnel along with an internship scouting with the Toronto Argonauts and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the Canadian Football League. Bo’s draft background includes working for the NFL Draft Bible and currently owns and operates College2Pro.com. He has done radio spots on NBC, Fox Sports and ESPN and their affiliates in different markets around the country. Bo covers the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Panthers along with other colleges in the northeast.