We're Black and Blue All Over:
Now then. I can't say this is what I expected for our holiday week.
The Chicago Bears are dealing with the loss of quarterback Jay Cutler, who broke his right thumb Sunday. The Minnesota Vikings, in the midst of one of their worst-ever seasons, are crossing their fingers on an upcoming MRI test for tailback Adrian Peterson. And the Green Bay Packers are hoping the news isn't too bad on tailback James Starks, who has a sprained knee.
The good news is that if the 2011 season had ended Sunday, the Packers (10-0), Lions (7-3) and Bears (7-3) would all be in the playoffs. It's still all there for our taking.
We'll start ramping up coverage of our Thanksgiving Day showdown at Ford Field soon enough. For now, let's check in on local coverage from around the NFC North:
Cutler suffered the injury trying to make a tackle on an interception, notes David Haugh of the Tribune.
Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times thinks the Bears might keep Cutler on the active roster in the hope that he could return in time for the playoffs.
The Bears are "in deep trouble," writes Melissa Isaacson of ESPNChicago.com.
Gary D'Amato of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at the Packers' upcoming short week of preparation before their Thanksgiving Day game against the Lions.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on how he settled down after two first-quarter interceptions, via Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "You’ve got to keep throwing. I mean, that's the way it is. That's the way you get yourself back in those games and it's [the] shooter's mentality. [You’re] not going to make them all, but you gotta go out there and keep throwing it."
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News on Stafford: "If you're a slinger, you sling, simple as that, no matter where it takes you. It's how Matthew Stafford plays, it's how the Lions' offense rolls."
No offense to John Niyo of the Detroit News, but the best part of clicking the link to his column is seeing the photograph of Lions tailback Kevin Smith kneeling on the bench with near the end of the game. It's powerful.
Philip Zaroo of Mlive.com grades the Lions' performance.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press after the Vikings' 27-21 loss to the Oakland Raiders: "It would be really nice if someone got fired this week. It doesn't matter who, just as long as somebody's head is spotted rolling along Vikings Drive in Eden Prairie. That would at least serve as an acknowledgement that things aren't quite as they should be with the team. Call it a feel-good gesture. Plus, it would demonstrate that someone really is in charge of the Vikings and that someone really is paying attention."
Referee Jerome Boger's crew didn't have a great day, according to the Pioneer Press. Among other things, it miscounted the Vikings' downs during one series in the first quarter.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "The Vikings now have a realistic chance of landing the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft. That should be their goal. The way they played for most of Sunday's game, they should be up to the task."
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "If the Indianapolis Colts hadn't folded the moment Peyton Manning's neck short-circuited, the Minnesota Vikings would have a strong claim as the worst team in the NFL."