Green Bay Sends Lions Packing
Written by: Quintin Bentley Crevling
The Green Bay Packers are NFC North champions!
Prophetic quarterback Aaron Rodgers told reporters that the 4-6 Packers, 2 games behind Lions in NFC North standings, would run the table and make the playoffs.
If Aaron Rodgers makes a statement such as that it has to come true.
The Pack won the next five games while the Lion went 3-2. The division came down to the week 17 matchup between the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. Winner is the division champion.
Unfortunately for the Lions they were playing against destiny as Rodgers slid the glass slipper onto Cinderella’s heel and sealed his place in the history books with 31-24 victory.
Green Bay are the champions of the closest competitive division in football this year.
Aaron Rodgers willed his team to the top by throwing for 2,018 yards with 18 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a passer rating of 119.96 in the final 7 games.
Wide receivers Jordy Nelson (14 touchdowns) and Davante Adams (12 touchdowns) finished first and second in touchdown catches this season.
The team managed to win an extremely competitive division even after losing several players to injuries.
Running back Eddie Lacy came speeding into the season after losing 20 pounds (9 kg) and looked great until a nagging ankle injury required him to have surgery placing him on injured reserve ending his season.
The Packers run game never quite recovered after signing the often released Christine Michael and converting wide receiver Ty Montgomery to the backfield opting to use a running back by committee.
The team also sustained injuries to most of their secondary including, at one point, all three starting cornerbacks.
This is a team that is very scary when they are healthy, but with major injuries hindering their last three seasons I would expect to see some changes to their approach in practices next season to reduce the carnage in the locker room.
The Lions were in a competitive race with the Packers for the division championship, but at a closer look their talent level was well below a team vying for playoff contention.
Their 9-7 record is respectable in a highly competitive league, but their record against teams that made the playoffs is 0-5 which paints a much different picture.
The Lions are the only team to reach the playoffs this season without beating a single team who made the postseason. They were blessed with a strength of schedule where their opponents combined win/loss is .477, well below the league average.
The most notable players for the Lions this season were wide receiver Golden Tate who surpassed 1,000 yards receiving for the second time in his career, and middle linebacker Tahir Whitehead who racked up 132 tackles.
This offseason the Lions need to seriously think about taking a top running back to alleviate some stress from Matt Stafford who can become easily shaken under pressure and throw costly interceptions.
The Vikings defense allowed Minnesota to jump to a quick 5-0 record, baffling the entire NFL community after the team lost it’s starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to an ACL tear during training camp.
Minnesota was forced to play without All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson and Pro Bowl left tackle Matt Kalil as they were both placed on injured reserve.
Their staunch young defense gave up an incredibly low 12.6 points per game during this stretch, which took a lot of pressure off a patched together offense.
As the number of injuries mounted, the Vikings began to crack under the pressure. They finished the season with a 3-8 record in their last 11 games.
The big question this offseason is if they will stick with Teddy Bridgewater after he returns from his ACL injury, or with Sam Bradford who stepped in and had the best year of his career during Bridgewater’s absence.
In the 2016 campaign, the Bears managed to win every fourth game except for the end of the season when they lost their last four in a row. They managed to steal two wins from their divisional foes: the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.
Their season hardly got off the ground before starting quarterback Jay Cutler injured his thumb keeping him out five games. He returned for three games and injured his shoulder which placed him on season ending injured reserve.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer was also placed on injured reserve with a fractured forearm leaving the team in the hands of professional clipboard holder Matt Barkley.
There is one massive upside to their season and that is the unexpected rise of fifth round rookie running back Jordan Howard who managed to accumulate 1,611 all purpose yards and 7 touchdowns in his 13 starts. Howard finished the season second in rushing yards and ready to make his name heard.
At the culmination of the season Bears veteran wide receiver Alshon Jeffery made a bold prediction that they would win the Super Bowl next year.