Final Word: NFC North

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
12:44
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge on Week 11:

Pursuing perfection: Traditionally, talk of a 16-0 season ramps up once a team gets to 10 victories. The Green Bay Packers will reach that milestone Sunday if they defeat the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers, losers of three consecutive games. The Packers also started 10-0 in 1962, a year they finished 13-1 and won the NFL title. Since the 1970 merger, 13 teams have started 10-0. Nine advanced to the Super Bowl and six of those teams won the title. It's worth noting that a victory Sunday would mean the Packers are 16-0 in their past 16 games, dating back to Week 16 of 2010 and including the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeAaron Rodgers
Jeff Hanisch/US PresswireIn two career starts against Tampa Bay, both losses, Aaron Rodgers has thrown six interceptions.
Rodgers revenge? Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has lost both career starts to the Bucs. He threw twice as many interceptions (six) in those two games as he has in all nine games of 2011 combined (three). Both games were played at Raymond James Stadium, but you would be fooling yourself if you didn't think Rodgers would use those performances as motivation this week. And I'm guessing Rodgers will find room for another chip on his shoulder after ESPN analyst Skip Bayless called him "thin-skinned" and questioned whether he will be a clutch player late this season. (Bayless was responding to Rodgers' criticism of him during this week's ESPN 540 radio show.)

Into the Bears' den: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has committed an NFL-high 19 turnovers this season, including 15 interceptions and four lost fumbles. No other player has higher than 10 at this point. Suffice it to say, the Chicago Bears aren't a good matchup for a turnover machine. After forcing six turnovers last Sunday against the Detroit Lions, the Bears are tied for No. 2 in the NFL with 20 takeaways this season. They'll miss ball-hawk nickel back D.J. Moore, but recent history suggests Rivers will give them multiple opportunities to make plays Sunday at Soldier Field.

The truth shall…: The Lions blamed wind gusts for quarterback Matthew Stafford's inaccuracy last week, downplaying the role of his fractured right index finger. We should get a better idea of the injury's impact when the Lions host the Carolina Panthers at Ford Field, an indoor stadium free of all weather concerns. Stafford, who completed 52.3 percent of his passes and threw four interceptions against the Bears, continued to wear gloves in practice this week to help grip the ball. That alone speaks to the severity of the injury. Rare is a quarterback who prefers to wear gloves if they aren't absolutely necessary.

Something must give: The Minnesota Vikings have been outscored in the second half more than every other NFL team this season (155-56). The Oakland Raiders aren't that far behind, ranking third after giving up 148 points in the second half so far this season and scoring 84 points. What does that tell us about Sunday's matchup between the teams at the Metrodome? The Raiders have done a better job surviving second-half comeback attempts. They're 5-4 and the Vikings are 2-7.

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