We're Black and Blue All Over:
PHILADELPHIA -- I'll spend Monday morning working my way back to NFC North headquarters. Together, we'll spend the rest of the week prepping for an epic weekend that could lead to an epic matchup.
The Green Bay Packers have advanced to Saturday night's NFC divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. About 17 hours later, the Chicago Bears will kick off at Soldier Field against the Seattle Seahawks. (No, I don't know yet if I'll be at both games.) Victories by both teams would set up the first modern-day NFC Championship Game between the Packers and Bears. As David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune points out, the Packers and Bears played for the Western Division title in 1941.
I'm counting on this week being one of the most exciting in the long and exhausting three-year history of the NFC North blog. Before ramping it up, however, let's catch up on news and links from around the division -- including an odd scenario developing on the Minnesota Vikings coaching staff.
Although they have not fired offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell nor special team coordinator Brian Murphy, the Vikings are setting up interviews with outside candidates for both jobs. Judd Zulgad of the Star Tribune has more.
Vikings coach Leslie Frazier told Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com that Bevell and Murphy are free to seek other jobs. Hmmm.
The Packers' defense was key to victory Sunday over the Philadelphia Eagles, writes Rob Demovsky of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Veteran left tackle Chad Clifton had a few "4th-and-26" flashbacks during the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, notes Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "James Starks never heard of the player whose record he broke Sunday. That's not surprising, because Travis 'The Roadrunner' Williams set the record for most rushing yards by a Green Bay Packers rookie in the postseason on Dec. 23, 1967. That was more than 18 years before Starks was born."
ESPN.com's Gene Wojciechowski spoke with Turner Gill, Starks' college coach.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers on his first playoff victory, via Alex Marvez of Foxsports.com: "In all my time being a football fan, I've never seen one player win a game all by himself. "It's a good team win for us. I'll let you guys write what you want on that."
Michael Silver of Yahoo! Sports: "Lose this game, and Rodgers would’ve been subjected to at least another year’s worth of rebuke from the Favre-o-philes who’ve never considered him worthy of his legendary predecessor’s legacy." My sense is there are very few people left who are unhappy with the transition from Brett Favre to Rodgers.
It was amazing how many people in Chicago were rooting for the Packers to win, writes Haugh in the Tribune.
Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com: "But it is true that the Bears, touched by providence all season, have the easiest draw of the divisional round with the sub-.500 Seahawks coming to Soldier Field next Sunday afternoon."
Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com evaluates the Detroit Lions' roster.