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Friday October 3, 2008 9:43 pm

NFC North Overview - Week 5

Adrian Petersen will make this coming Monday’s clash in the Big Easy against the New Orleans Saints look more like a track meet than a football game. The Minnesota Vikings are due for a breakout game. The Vikes’ front four will make Saints backs think they’ve hit the Great Wall of China as their running game grinds to a halt.  The Saints will have to resort to a passing game - dangerous without a ground game for balance, but not too bad with Drew Brees being the passer.  A win will put Minnesota’s record at 2-3 - close enough to division leaders, the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. Conservative pick… Minnesota by 10+.

The Packers have something to prove after last week’s loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons are just another team without Michael Vick. Aaron Rodgers’ sprained shoulder limited him to a light workout Wednesday but said he’ll be ready by kickoff time at Lambeau Field. With the Seattle Seahawks and Indianapolis Colts on the schedule for Weeks Six and Seven, Green Bay needs this win to stay even with the Bears and to avoid a tie with the Vikings.  It won’t be a blowout, but the Pack will prevail. Green Bay by seven.

The Bears travel to Motown to take on the woeful Detroit Lions. Chicago back Matt Forte will have a field day against Detroit’s porous defense and Kyle Orton will pepper the Lions’ secondary as the Bears go to 3-2 and Detroit drops to 0-4. About the only ray of hope on the Lions’ radar screen is that they play the Houston Texans Week Seven, their first real shot at breaking into the win column.  Bears by 14+.

The Black and Blue division could turn into a three-team race.  Minnesota plays Detroit at home, then take on the Bears at Soldier Field before reaching their bye week followed by the Texans.  The Vikes could easily be 5-3 by the half-season point. Chicago gets to beat up on the Falcons Week Six followed by a showdown with Minnesota. A one week respite and then the Monsters of the Midway get to maul the Lions Week Nine.  Even with a loss to the Vikings, the Bears could also post a 5-3 record. The big question mark is Green Bay who take on the Seahawks, Colts and Titans over the next four weeks.  Without Rodgers at the helm, a 3-5 record is a distinct reality, but figure the Pack to post at least one win -

Seattle is the most likely victim—for a 4-4 record.

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