The Green Bay Packers (7-3) are officially in first place in the NFC North after the Chicago Bears (7-3) lost 32-7 to the San Francisco 49ers (7-2-1) on Monday Night Football. The Packers are certainly in the driver’s seat with six games to go and must now do whatever they can to pull away with the division.
The following are the remaining schedules for the Packers, Bears and the Minnesota Vikings (6-4) who are right in the thick of the division race.
Nov. 25 at New York Giants (6-4) on Sunday Night Football
Dec. 2 vs. Vikings
Dec. 9 vs. Detroit Lions (4-6) on Sunday Night Football
Dec. 16 at Bears
Dec. 23 vs. Tennessee Titans (4-6)
Dec. 30 at Vikings
Nov. 25 vs. Vikings
Dec. 2 vs. Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
Dec. 9 at Vikings
Dec. 16 vs. Packers
Dec. 23 at Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
Dec. 30 at Lions
Nov. 25 at Bears
Dec. 2 at Packers
Dec. 9 vs. Bears
Dec. 16 at St. Louis Rams (3-6-1)
Dec. 23 at Houston Texans (9-1)
Dec. 30 vs. Packers
As you can see, all three teams have relatively difficult remaining schedules, which will make the race for the division that much more exciting. Minnesota may have the hardest schedule among the three teams as they still must face the Packers and Bears each twice, plus a showdown with the Texans. Chicago does not have any gimmes either as they have four division games. Not to mention, the Bears must also take on the difficult Seahawks and a Cardinals team that almost upset the Atlanta Falcons (9-1) over the weekend.
If Green Bay can get past New York this Sunday then the team will be riding a six-game win streak with five to play and their confidence level will be at the highest point during the 2012 season. The Packers should be able to take care of the Vikings with ease as long as they do not let Adrian Peterson run all over them. The Bears and Lions will both be a challenge, but Green Bay already knows how to defeat them after already doing so this year. And as long as the Packers do not take the Titans for granted, their contest on Dec. 23 should be a walk in the park.
Green Bay must continue to play with confidence and understand they are one of the best teams in the league. At this point, the only team that can realistically defeat the Packers is themselves. As long as the offensive line protects Aaron Rodgers and the wide receivers catch the balls thrown to them then the offense should continue to score points.
Also, injured players will be returning soon which means Green Bay should be at full strength in time for a solid run down the stretch. Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Clay Matthews and hopefully Cedric Benson will make a world of a difference once they are back in the starting lineup.
After the rocky start to the season, it is nice to see the Packers on top of the division and the third seed in the NFC. However, there is nothing to celebrate quite yet as there is plenty of work that still must be done. The Bears and Vikings will not just lie down and accept defeat. They are going to fight until the season is officially over, which means Green Bay must do the same if they want to be crowned NFC North champs for a second consecutive season.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.