We're Black and Blue All Over:
On Monday, we noted that press box scorekeepers credited Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher with 17 tackles Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Tackles are an unofficial statistic, of course, and generally I prefer to use the numbers compiled by coaches during Monday film review.
Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports Bears coaches had Urlacher with 19 tackles, the most he has had in a single game since recording 25 in the now-infamous comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals in 2006. I wouldn't say Urlacher made a ton of big plays Sunday against the Lions, but simply being around the ball that often speaks to the relative health and quick legs Urlacher finds himself with here after Week 13.
Based on what we saw Monday night at Gillette Stadium, where the New England Patriots dismantled the New York Jets, he'll need every bit of both this week. The Bears will host the Patriots on Sunday at Soldier Field.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com explores the relative tantrum thrown Sunday by Bears coach Lovie Smith.
The Bears are thin at linebacker following Pisa Tinoisamoa's knee surgery, notes Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times.
It hasn't gone unnoticed that Bears tailback Matt Forte is averaging more than 4.0 yards per carry for the first time in his career, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Forte: "My rookie year I was at 3.9, almost four. It was pretty frustrating. I think that was because I stayed in almost the whole game. I really didn't have anybody [who] would come in and take any share of the load. Chester [Taylor] and I go back and forth and just kind of get each other some rest. That is helping a lot."
Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune examines what went wrong for the Bears' defense in the first half of Sunday's game against the Detroit Lions.
The Green Bay Packers have no problem with the way the playoff situation is setting up, writes Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel examines how the emergence of rookie tailback James Starks could shake up the Packers' backfield.
The Packers are bracing for a multi-week loss of defensive end Cullen Jenkins (calf), writes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has 7.5 sacks in the past five games, notes Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com breaks down tape of the Vikings' victory over the Buffalo Bills.
Vikings quarterback Brett Favre (shoulder) was wincing while he changed shirts in the locker room Monday, writes Jeremy Fowler of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Detroit Lions defensive end Cliff Avril called his three-sack performance against the Bears bittersweet, writes Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press.
Despite his team's record, Lions coach Jim Schwartz said the team has made undeniable progress the past two years, notes Chris McCosky of the Detroit News. Schwartz: "We're not the crew on a ship that wants to turn back the first time we hit bad weather. That's not going to be us. Our record's not good enough, but to deny or ignore the situations and the things that have come up in the games and not see that there's a difference is to have an agenda other than to be objective."
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (shoulder) plans to throw this week, writes Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com.