When Chicago seemed ready to run away with the NFC North and Green Bay was getting games stolen from it by replacement referees, it appeared the division crown would probably be wrapped up with a couple games left to go.
And it was. The Packers took home the NFC North championship on Sunday.
With a 21-13 win at Chicago, despite a horrible fake punt call that gave the Bears life in the fourth quarter, Green Bay won the NFC North and can spend the last two weeks trying to get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Green Bay is 10-4, which is impressive considering the awful call in Seattle that cost it a game and could've derailed its season. Aaron Rodgers threw three touchdowns, all to James Jones. The last one was a thing of beauty, a back shoulder throw that beat cornerback Charles Tillman.
With Clay Matthews back in the lineup, and Jordy Nelson and Charles Woodson possibly getting back by January as well, the Packers have reclaimed a spot as a legitimate Super Bowl contender. At very least, they are division champs for the second straight year. The Packers gained three-and-a-half games on the Bears in six weeks to wrap up the NFC North early.
The Bears, meanwhile, have gone from 7-1 to a team that could miss the playoffs. Chicago is 8-6 and has two road games left at Arizona and Detroit. While neither contest seems too tough, the way the Bears are playing, nothing can be counted as a sure win. The offense doesn't have much firepower outside of Brandon Marshall, and the defense isn't scoring on returns anymore, like it was so often early in the season. Injuries have taken a huge toll. After the game, the frustration over the losing skid showed, as Marshall was obviously upset before he walked off the podium.
The next two weeks will be pretty big for the Bears and the future of their coach, Lovie Smith.
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