So you’re saying there’s a chance.
Even though the Green Bay Packers lost a thriller to the Pittsburgh Steelers, a Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears loss on Sunday means the NFC North division is still open for the taking. In fact, the Week 17 matchup between the Packers and Bears will decide who will be crowned champions of the division.
Of course, if Green Bay wants to win their third consecutive NFC North title they will have to clean up the mistakes. More specifically, the costly penalties must be eliminated if the Packers want to defeat the Bears.
Green Bay ranks eighth in the NFL with an average of 5.7 penalties per game, while Chicago is seventh with 5.3 penalties per contest. The difference is that the Packers’ number jumps up to 6.0 over the past three contests, while the Bears have only committed an average of 3.7 in the same span. A more important note is that Green Bay was whistled nine times against Pittsburgh with several of the penalties proving to be incredibly costly.
Most notably were Nick Perry’s encroachment penalty that gave the Steelers a first down at the end of the game when Pittsburgh was about to attempt a field goal. T.J. Lang’s false start, which was incorrectly called on Don Barclay, with the ball on the one-yard line and 20 seconds to go in the contest was a big one as well. In fact, that ended up being the penalty that ultimately cost Green Bay the potential win. Josh Sitton’s facemask that halted a drive and B.J. Raji’s personal foul penalty that extended one of Pittsburgh’s were both detrimental too.
The good news is the Packers have been rather good with penalties this season, which means they are more than capable of cleaning them up in the showdown against the Bears. It’s simply something that must happen because Green Bay won’t be able to afford to give Chicago extra chances. Make no mistake about it. The season finale will be one of the most intense games the Packers have faced in quite some time.