NFL Wrap-Up: Week 13 North Divisions

The Packers came the closest to defeat as they have all year, will any team be able to keep them from a perfect season?

Nash Herringtonby Nash Herrington

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Big yardage numbers were racked up this week, but why can't they convert those yards into points??  Why can't kickers knock the ball through the uprights??  Will the Bears be able to overcome not having their two best players for the rest of the season??   Can the northern divisions stay on pace to control all the wildcard spots in the playoffs??  Find out with this week 13 northern division review.
Stat of the week – Northern division kickers went a combined 8/16 on field goal attempts in week 13, only ryan longwell 3/3 and phil dawson 1/1 made all their attempts.

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens  24
Cleveland Browns  10

The Ravens continued their trend on the season of playing down to their competition as this felt like it was anybody's game until a 68 yard punt return TD by Baltimore's Lardarius Webb.  Joe Flacco looked like a below average quarterback going 10/23 for 158 yards and no touchdowns and a fumble, fortunately for him the running game was all the Ravens needed.  Running back Ray Rice had 204 yards rushing and 1 touchdown and Ricky Williams also tacked on another 76 yards and a TD on the ground.  The Ravens made it into the redzone five times but were only able to convert twice for scores, kicker Billy Cundiff contributed to the Ravens offensive woes going 1/3 on field goal attempts.  The Browns meanwhile need playmakers and this game was another example of that.  Cleveland gained only 233 total yards of offense and their statistical leader was running back Peyton Hillis.  Hillis had only 42 yards rushing and added 51 yards receiving on one catch to set up the fourth quarter touchdown from Colt McCoy to tight end Evan Moore.
The Ravens' win makes them 9-3 and with tie breakers they currently stand atop the AFC North.  As of today, the Ravens would face the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs.
The Browns are now 4-8 and as of today would have between the 6th and 8th pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Cincinnati Bengals  7
Pittsburgh Steelers  35

The Steelers showed a complete domination in all aspects of the game during the second matchup of the year between these two rivals.  Pittsburgh ran away with the game in the second quarter, scoring 28 points while allowing Cincinnati's only score of the game.  The Steelers' offense had no standout performances on Sunday as they only had 295 total yards of offense, but they took advantage of excellent field position including getting the ball on the Cincinnati 23 after forcing a fumble by Cincinnati returner Brandon Tate on a kickoff after Rashard Mendenhall's second touchdown of the day, Ben Roethlisberger would connect with Mike Wallace three plays later to go up 21-0.  Pittsburgh would later tack on a rare special teams touchdown on a 60 yard punt return by Antonio Brown, this was the first punt return TD for the Steelers since Santonio Holmes had a 65 yard return against the Panthers in 2006.  The Steelers' defense held the Bengals to only 232 total yards on offense and linebacker James Harrison sacked Bengals rookie Andy Dalton three times, including a hit in the third quarter that had Dalton limping to the sideline leaving Cincinnati to turn to backup Bruce Gradkowski for the remainder of the game.  Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green once again had his way with the Steelers' secondary, gaining 87 yards while catching the only Bengals score of the game.
The Steelers are now 9-3 and tied with the Ravens atop the Division but due to Baltimore holding the advantage in tie breakers, as of today the Steelers have the top wildcard slot and would face the Broncos in the first round of the playoffs.
The Bengals fall to 7-5 and a four way tie for the second wildcard spot with the Raiders, Titans and Jets.  As of today they would have that #6 spot in the playoffs and would face Baltimore in the first round.
NFC North
Kansas City Chiefs  10
Chicago Bears  3

Start panicking Bears fans, the rest of your season could get ugly.  Chicago was already playing their second game without quarterback Jay Cutler and now it looks like they'll be missing star running back Matt Forte.  Forte took a hit during the second drive of the day that gave him a grade 2 MCL sprain, this injury could keep him out anywhere from two to six weeks and without his stud back to lean on, backup QB Caleb Hanie struggled for the second week in a row, going 11/24 for 133 yards and three interceptions.  On an incredible play at the end of the first half, Kansas City quarterback Tyler Palko threw a 38 yard hail mary into the end zone that was batted out of the air by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher….unfortunately, the ball would fall right into the lap of RB/WR Dexter McCluster for a touchdown that would prove to be the deciding score in the game.
The Bears are now 7-5 and in a three way tie for the two available wildcard spots with the Lions and the Falcons and as of today would face the Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs.  But if Chicago can't find a solution at quarterback and if RB Marion Barber can't step up, the Bears are in trouble.
Detroit Lions  17
New Orleans Saints  31

The Lions were picked apart by Drew Brees and the Saints offense as this game never seemed like it was in doubt, even when Detroit managed to pull within seven late in the third quarter.  Quarterback Matthew Stafford had a decent day statistically as he went 31/44 for 408 yards, but only had one passing touchdown.  Detroit's defense had some trouble getting to Drew Brees, getting only 6 hits and sacking him only twice, this lack of pressure allowed Brees to sit back and pick the defense apart.  Adding to the Lions' trouble finishing drives was kicker Jason Hanson's two missed field goals and Detroit's 11 penalties for 10 yards including three offensive pass interference call and a personal foul on Brandon Pettigrew for shoving an official.  Maybe Ndamukong Suh will have some company for his league mandated anger management courses.
With the loss the Lions fall to 7-5 and in a three way tie for the NFC wildcard.  As of today the Lions would be out of the playoffs.

Denver Broncos  35
Minnesota Vikings  32

Christian Ponder was able to put up big numbers against a good Broncos defense, but critical mistakes in big situations would doom the rookie QB and his team.  Though Ponder did have 381 yards passing, he had a fumble deep in Denver territory, threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown, and had a second interception late in the game that led to the winning field goal by Denver kicker Matt Prater.  In the absence of all pro running back Adrian Peterson, Toby Gerhardt had 133 total yards from scrimmage (91 rushing, 42 receiving) but never looked as dominant as Peterson can.  The Minnesota defense continued it's trend on the season of giving away leads late in the game as the Vikings had  a lead for most of the game until Prater tied the game at 32 with 1:33 remaining in the 4th.  The defense allowed Denver receiver Damaryius Thomas to have 144 yards and 2 touchdowns and allowed RB Willie McGahee to have 111 yards and a TD on the ground as well.
The Vikings are now 2-10 and as of today are in line for the #3 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Game of the Week
Green Bay Packers  38
New York Giants  35

This may have been the best chance for any team to knock off the undefeated Packers during the regular season as this is the first time that Green Bay had to come down the field at the end of the game to win.  Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had 369 yards passing and 4 touchdowns while completing passes to eight different receivers, he also led the team in rushing with 32 yards.  Tight end Jermichael Finley and receivers Greg Jennings and Jordy Nelson all had at least 87 yards receiving while Finley and Jennings also added touchdown grabs, Donald Driver added two scores as well.  The Packers' defense continued to give up big yardage as they allowed the Giants to gain 447 total yards including a 9 play 69 yard touchdown drive and 2 point conversion to tie the game, luckily they have a quarterback that is considered by many to be the best in the game as Rodgers marched the offense 68 yards with under a minute left to set up the 30 yard game winning field goal by Mason Crosby.  Linebacker Clay Matthews was the only bright spot for the defense, coming up big with a sack and a 38 yard interception return for a touchdown to put the packers up 14-10 in the second quarter.
The packers are now 12-0 and have joined the 49ers as the only teams to have clinched their division to this point in the season.
Offensive Player of the Week
Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay, QB) – 28/46, 369 yards, 4 TD
Yup, the best QB in the league showed it again, he not only led his team to victory over the Giants with a last minute drive but also led the Packers in rushing with 32 yards.
Honorable mention – Ray Rice (Baltimore RB) 204 yards/1 TD, Percy Harvin (Minnesota WR) 156 yards/2 TD
Defensive Player of the Week
James Harrison (Pittsburgh, LB) – 5 tackles, 3 sacks
Harrison has been on fire since coming back from an orbital bone fracture to gain 3 sacks against the ravens in week 10.  The Steelers will need him to keep up his production as Lamarr Woodley is again going to miss games with a bum hamstring and Troy Polamalu has had concussion problems this season.
honorable mention – Clay Matthews (Green Bay LB) 1 tackle/1 sack/1 interception for a TD
Season Standings

AFC North
Baltimore Ravens  9-3
Pittsburgh Steelers  9-3  (#1 wildcard spot)
Cincinnati Bengals  7-5  (#2 wildcard spot)
Cleveland Browns  4-8
NFC North
Green Bay Packers  12-0 (clinched division)
Chicago Bears  7-5  (#1 wildcard spot)
Detroit Lions  7-5
Minnesota Vikings  2-10


Check out our NFL Week 13 South Coverage.

Check out our NFL Week 13 East Coverage.

Check out our NFL Week 13 West Coverage.