Great weekend for the Green Bay Packers – NFC North race heats up


Unless you slept through this past weekend, you were completely off the grid or simply didn’t care about the rest of the NFL, you surely know that the Green Bay Packers and the team’s legions of fans were doing a little jig by around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

That’s because our friends to the east, the Detroit Lions, and our friends to the south, the Chicago Bears, both once again did the Packers a huge favor by losing Sunday.

So, what does this mean for the Packers?

The Bears were defeated by the Carolina Panthers 31-24, while the Lions lost at home to that ragtag group from Buffalo on a game-buzzer-beating field goal, 17-14.

So, what does this mean for the Packers?

Well, it simply means that after week five the Packers are now tied for first place. The Packers and Lions are both sitting at 3-2, while the Bears fell to 2-3 and are tied with the Minnesota Vikings for honors in holding down the basement.

Clearly former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz was pleased with the performance his Bills’ defense put in under the dome yesterday in Detroit. His “homecoming” was rewarded with a ride off the field on the shoulders of his players after the Lions were shocked by the final field goal that sent them packing and looking for answers.

Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy is tackled by Chicago Bears middle linebacker D.J. Williams during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

In Carolina, we can once again thank the right arm and seemingly disconnected brain of Jay Cutler for throwing away their game against the Panthers.

In addition to Cutler’s predictable meltdown, the always-reliable running back Matt Forte also helped kill the Bears’ chances when he fumbled late in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 24-24. The Cam Newton-led Panthers then turned that fumble into the winning seven points.

While the season is five games in, we can take a look at the Packers, Lions and Bears schedules over the next three weeks to see that the Packers, while still facing their own challenges on both sides of the ball, are sitting pretty – though it’s the Lions who, at this point, have the easiest schedule – at least on paper.


WkDateGameStadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetwork
6Oct 12GB @ MIASun Life Stadium1:00 PMTicketsFOX
7Oct 19CAR @ GBLambeau Field1:00 PMTicketsFOX
8Oct 26GB @ NOMercedes-Benz Superdome8:30 PMTicketsNBC
10Nov 09CHI @ GBLambeau Field8:30 PMTicketsNBC


WkDateGameStadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetwork
6Oct 12DET @ MINTCF Bank Stadium1:00 PMTicketsFOX
7Oct 19NO @ DETFord Field1:00 PMTicketsFOX
8Oct 26DET @ ATLWembley Stadium9:30 AMTicketsFOX
10Nov 09MIA @ DETFord Field1:00 PMTicketsCBS


WkDateGameStadiumTime (ET)TicketsNetwork
6Oct 12CHI @ ATLGeorgia Dome4:25 PMTicketsFOX
7Oct 19MIA @ CHISoldier Field1:00 PMTicketsCBS
8Oct 26CHI @ NEGillette Stadium1:00 PMTicketsFOX
10Nov 09CHI @ GBLambeau Field8:30 PMTicketsNBC

The Lions, Bears and Packers all share the same bye week – week 9. That will sit well with all three franchises as it’s the perfect spot in the calendar to regroup for the stretch run.

However, before we get to that point, the Packers will have a challenging three weeks with games at Miami and New Orleans sandwiched around a home game against Carolina.

Those are all winnable games, to be sure, but two of these teams, Miami and New Orleans are enigmas in this 2014 season.

Most notable is the psychotic play of the Saints – though they are giving up a gob of points (much like the Packers), they always seem to find a way to win at home. Beating them in the Super Dome will probably be the biggest challenge over this three week stretch for Green Bay.

Yes, challenging, but not an impossible task, especially if the defense continues to show improvement over the next couple of weeks.

Detroit’s favorable schedule the next three weeks includes next week’s matchup at Minnesota, a home game against New Orleans and a road game at Atlanta.

While on paper it looks like these are also winnable for the high-powered Lions, it will all depend upon the play of Matthew Stafford and whether Calvin Johnson can recover from his nagging ankle injury.

Aaron Rodgers talks with Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) following the game at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

For the Bears, it doesn’t get much easier for them either. They play at Atlanta, host Miami at Chicago and then have the unenviable task of traveling to Foxboro to take on Tom Brady and the Patriots – a team that was considered all but dead, but came to life last night in a huge victory over the previously undefeated Cincinnati Bengals.

After the bye week, the Packers and Bears face off for the second time in a month at Lambeau Field. By that time, the hope is that the Bears are hanging on by a thread and that the Packers can put another nail in the Bears’ division title hopes by once again beating them soundly.

The Lions will host Miami after the bye.

So, the bottom line is that after a horrible start to the season, the Packers have gotten help from their fellow NFC North teams this past weekend – help that was surely needed.

The old saying is that teams and players play for their paychecks in September and October, but that changes to playing for championships in November and December.

That will surely be the case once again this year as the NFC North race heats up.

Stay tuned …