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Friday November 14, 2008 3:15 pm

NFC North Week 11 Predictions

Ryan Grant

Two key match ups this week when the Minnesota Vikings travel to take on the 6-3 Tampa Bay Buccaneers while the Chicago Bears visit the tundra to clash with the Green Bay Packers. Tampa Bay is one game shy of the division-leading Carolina Panthers who host the Detroit Lions - chalk up a win for Carolina. To keep pace, Tampa will need a win over Minnesota. By the end of the day, Carolina’s record should be 8-2 while a win over the Vikings will put the Bucs at 7-3. Local oddsmakers have already given the Panthers a 14-point edge over Detroit. Coming off a brutal heart-stopper over the Packers in Week 10, the Vikings will probably find out the hard way that the Bucs are no fluke. Bucs by 7.

 

Label this one the battle of the phenoms. Bears QB Kyle Orton versus Packers QB Aaron Rodgers who will slug it out to the final gun for NFC North bragging rights. Green Bay has lost two close ones in consecutive weeks - a 19-16 OT loss to the high-flying Tennessee Titans and a last second 28-27 loss to the Vikings, courtesy of a flubbed 52-yard boot by Matt Crosby in the closing seconds. A Bears win puts them at 6-4 and at least a tie atop the Black and Blue division—that is if the Vikes can squeeze out a win over Tampa - don’t bank on it. A Green Bay win coupled with a Vikings loss creates a three-way tie. Orton has shown remarkable poise and posted some pretty good numbers in his first full season taking snaps thus far. Counterpart Rodgers logged 142 yards on 15 of 26 passing against the Vikings, but got trapped for two safeties and lobbed an interception. On the rushing side, Bears rookie back Matt Forte had a decent afternoon against the Titans with 72 yards on 20 carries while Pack back Ryan Grant ground out 75 yards on 16 carries and a TD against Minnesota’s vaunted front four - tops in either conference against the run. Add in an intangible like Green Bay weather, which will make for a close game, but the emotional edge should go to the Packers. Green Bay by 4.

Do you really want to read about the 0-9 soon to be 0-10 Lions? A win will put them a half game back of the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs who are 1-8, while a tenth loss puts them one step closer to the number one pick in the draft. As Brooklyn Dodger fans used to say “Wait’ll next year!!” Detroit just has too many holes to fill on offense and defense. Better just to write off the ’08 season and start concentrating on ’09.

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