The NFC North was a division in which all four fanbases probably entered the season with playoff dreams. Some of those dreams may have been more far-fetched than others (Vikings) but there wasn’t a single team in the division that was in a full-blown rebuild mode in September.
The NFC North season played out a little differently but the schedule makers ended up having it right by matching up the top two teams, the Packers and Lions, and the bottom two teams, the Bears and Vikings, in season-ending games.
Chicago Bears 17, Minnesota Vikings 13 (box score)
A bitterly disappointing season for the Vikings ends with Jared Allen coming half a sack short of tying Michael Strahan’s NFL single season record. Allen did manage 3.5 sacks against the Bears but needed four for the tie and the Bears did everything they could to make sure he didn’t break the record on them. The Vikings head into the offseason with an aging core and a young quarterback that seemingly regressed with every passing week. They got to see a lot of Christian Ponder as a rookie but he did little to show that he is their answer at quarterback. The Chicago Bears showed that they need significant depth upgrades on the roster to avoid falling off a cliff should the injury bug bite again in the future. Injuries happen in the NFL and the Bears were clearly not prepared to deal with such a reality.
Green Bay Packers 45, Detroit Lions 41 (box score)
On the outside it looked like the Packers had nothing to play for on Sunday but apparently no one told the guys that took the field. Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson were all inactive but Matt Flynn was just about all they needed to beat the Lions. Matthew Stafford torched the Packers defense but Flynn was just as good in leading the Packers to victory. The Loss from the Lions combined with a Falcons win bumped the Lions to the NFC’s sixth seed and sends them to New Orleans for Wild Card weekend. The Packers earned a week of rest with a bye and can rest easy knowing that Flynn is ready should Rodgers get hurt in the playoffs.
Final NFC North Standings
NFC North Wild Card Schedule
Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints – Jan. 7, 8 p.m.
Green Bay Packers with first round bye