NFC North Round-Up: Vikings Win Another Nailbiter, Pesky Packers

Grading the Vikings Position Groups: Offense
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Week 16 brought some great Christmas weekend football, and all four NFC North teams got involved in the action. Today, we break down everything that happened across the division, including the franchise record that helped the Vikings win another nailbiter, and the fact that the Packers keep creeping closer to that No. 7 seed.

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Bears Get Outmatched by Bills

Dec 24, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) and Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) meet at midfield after their game at Soldier Field. Buffalo defeated Chicago 35-13. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

For the past few weeks, the Chicago Bears have been playing competitive football, but they simply haven’t found ways to pull out games at the end. Heading into Week 16, they had lost seven straight games, but four of them were by five points or fewer.

That was not the case in Week 16 against the Bills. Chicago lost 35-13, and it was one of the few games this year where Justin Fields has been ineffective as a runner. He rushed 7 times for just 11 yards, and the Bears as a whole had just 209 yards in the game.

Lions Squander Opportunity

Dec 24, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Detroit Lions running back Justin Jackson (42) with the ball as Carolina Panthers cornerback Myles Hartsfield (38) and cornerback T.J. Carrie (27) defend in the fourth quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

With all three of the Commanders, Giants, and Seahawks losing this week, the Detroit Lions had a huge opportunity to move into the playoff picture by defeating the 5-9 Carolina Panthers. Instead, the Panthers blew Detroit out, 37-23.

The game ultimately wasn’t even as close as the 14-point deficit suggests. With just over 9 minutes left in the third quarter, the Panthers extended their lead to 31-7 before Detroit scored 16 garbage time points to make the deficit respectable.

Packers Inch Closer to Playoffs

Dec 25, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas (29) celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass from Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (not pictured) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions may have squandered their opportunity to get into the playoff picture, but the Packers took advantage of their chance to creep closer to the playoffs. With Detroit’s loss, they entered Sunday with all four of the teams directly ahead of them in the Wild Card standings having lost.

Meanwhile, on Christmas Day, the Packers managed to emerge victorious on the road over the Miami Dolphins. The Packers (7-8) are now just half a game out of the playoffs, tied with the Lions and Seahawks. If they get that 7th seed, it’d set up a Wild Card matchup with the Vikings.

Another Week, Another Vikings Nailbiter

Vikings Win Another Nailbiter
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates the win after the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings are incapable of doing anything but giving their fanbase heart attacks down the stretch of their games. For their 11th consecutive win, they took it all the way down to the wire, winning another one-possession game.

This time, it took a franchise-record, 61-yard field goal from Greg Joseph to get the job done despite jumping out to a 10-point lead early in the game. T.J. Hockenson and Justin Jefferson were incredible in this game, though, catching a combined 25 passes for 242 yards and 3 touchdowns. If this duo continues playing at a high level going into the playoffs, Minnesota will be tough to beat.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.