NFC North Temperature Check

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It’s raining here in L.A. today.  As a result, the city is crippled.

It’s frigid in Green Bay, Wisconsin, today with snow on the way.  As a result, Packers fans’ hearts are soaring.  Or at least they should be.

The dome-bound, soft-against-the run Falcons are in town for a game which – as far as they’re concerned – has zero significance beyond how much closer it might get them to drafting a dynamic pass rusher next spring.  If Sunday’s game were to be played under a roof, we might expect the Falcons to be favored against the team last seen getting the stuffing beaten out of them on Thanksgiving in climate-controlled Ford Field.  But the game will be played in the weather, aka – the biggest x-factor in what remains of the 2013 season, up-to-and-including that game scheduled for early February in New Jersey.

In other words, don’t write the Packers off just yet.  If Green Bay scratches out a win (presumably behind a more-Lacy/less-Flynny offensive approach), they could be a ½-game out first by Sunday night if the Lions drop to 7-6 with a loss against the rising Eagles.

After Atlanta, the Pack’s three remaining games are: at Dallas, Pittsburgh, at Chicago.  The trip to Big D looks daunting… until you consider Aaron Rodgers will likely be back under center.  These last few weeks have proven, in the big Jenga game of the NFL, there’s no piece whose removal can collapse an organization more quickly than Rodgers.  It’s eminently realistic, then, to think Green Bay will go four-for-four down the homestretch (which would make them 9-6-1).

Then again…

The Lions can render the Packers (and Bears) moot with a win in Philly on Sunday.  At 8-5, they could take a loss in Week 15 at home to Baltimore and still hold on for North crown with wins at home against the Giants and at the Vikings to close out the regular season.

And what about the 7-6 Bears?  Well, they’re doomed.  Even with a win on Monday night (a reasonable possibility given the cold & snow on the home field against another dome-bound, soft-against-the-run foe), Chicago still has trips to Cleveland & Philly (let’s say 1-1 with those) and a home game against the Packers.  So why are they already cooked just a game back of Detroit and a ½-game up on Green Bay?  Because the Lions swept ‘em in their home-and-home.  That means the Bears would have to be two games better than the Lions over the last four games… and that seems about as unlikely as rain in L.A.

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