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Wild Card Playoffs: Bears, Lions should be embarrassed Packers won NFC North Division championship
January 2, 2014 - Matt Wellens
To say I’m surprised the Green Bay Packers are hosting the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Lambeau Field as NFC North Division champions would be an understatement.
But it’s not because I ever doubted the Packers.
I just failed to believe the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions could crash and burn as hard as they did.
I didn’t think the Packers had the slightest chance to extend their season when quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his fractured collar bone were replaced by an awful Seneca Wallace and a slightly-less awful Scott Tolzien.
When Matt Flynn returned to Green Bay after being tossed out of Seattle, Oakland and Buffalo, I felt the move reeked of desperation. It would change nothing.
I was wrong, however, not because I abandoned my team. I just overestimated their rivals.
The Lions organization should be the most embarrassed out of any team in the NFL this week after sitting at 6-3 following a road win over the Bears on Nov. 10. To reach the playoffs, all Detroit had to do was finish 3-4 down the stretch against teams that finished with a combined record of 50-60-2.
All Detroit did was beat Green Bay on Thanksgiving, with losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) and Minnesota Vikings (5-10-1).
If Detroit wins those games, all Packers fans are celebrating this week is spoiling the Bears’ season.
Of course, the Packers never should have been given the chance to crash Chicago’s party on Sunday, not if the Bears take care of business back in November and early December.
Despite handing the Lions control of the division on Nov. 10, all the Bears needed to do was beat either the 7-9 St. Louis Rams on Nov. 24 or the Vikings on Dec. 1 on the road to reach the playoffs.
The Bears did neither, winning only three of their final seven games, with Rodgers’ pass to a hobbled Randall Cobb being the final exclamation point on what will go down as one of the more epic choke jobs in NFC North history.
It’s left me asking, if the Bears and Lions can’t prevent the Packers from winning the division with Rodgers injured for eight weeks, will they ever anytime soon?
Now on to my postseason picks, which will take a different form from now until the Super Bowl. This week I will predict how I think the entire NFL postseason will play out. After this week, I will just predict the games in front of us for that given round.
5. San Francisco 49ers at 4. Green Bay Packers
4:40 p.m., Sunday, FOX
It doesn’t matter if the Packers lose 50-0. They’re in the playoffs and the Lions and Bears are not. 49ers 38, Packers 31
8:10 p.m., Saturday, NBC
The Packers and Eagles may be division champions, but they won what is comparable to the MAC. The Saints and Niners came from the SEC. Saints 31, Eagles 28
5. Kansas City Chiefs at 4. Indianapolis Colts
4:35 p.m., Saturday, NBC
The Colts were my preseason favorite to reach the Super Bowl as a No. 6 seed, not winners of the AFC South. I’m feeling good about that pick right now. Colts 21, Chiefs 18
1:05 p.m., Sunday, CBS
The Chargers showed against the Chiefs backups they’re lucky to be in the postseason. Bengals 28, Chargers 13
No. 5 49ers at No. 2 Carolina Panthers
1:05 p.m., Jan. 12, FOX
The 49ers postseason experience will overcome the Panthers excitement of hosting a playoff game. 49ers 31, Panthers 21
4:30 p.m., Jan. 11, FOX
There is no tougher place to play in the NFL right now than Seattle and the Saints have proven to only be a mediocre team on the road. Seahawks 34, Saints 24
No. 4 Colts at No. 1 Denver Broncos
4:40 p.m., Jan. 12, CBS
Indy’s 39-33 win at home in October over the Broncos gives me confidence to stick with my preseason pick. Colts 37, Broncos 34
8:15 p.m., Jan. 11, CBS
I still don’t buy the Bengals despite their AFC North title or even a playoff win. Patriots 35, Bengals 14
AFC: No. 4 Colts at No. 2 Patriots
Jan. 19, 3:30 p.m., CBS
Jan. 19, 6:30 p.m., CBS
The 49ers were thoroughly embarrassed in Seattle in Week 2 and barely beat the Seahawks in Week 14 in San Francisco. Seahawks 30, 49ers 10
Colts vs. Seahawks
at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
6:30 p.m., Feb. 2, FOX
I’m standing by my preseason pick of Seahawks over Colts, despite how improved Indy appears to be. Seahawks 27, Colts 24
Last week: 13-3. Overall: 156-99-1.
Matt Wellens is Sports Editor of the Mining Journal. Check out his Armchair QB column every Thursday at MiningJournal.net and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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