We're Black and Blue All Over:
Good morning. I hope everyone had an enjoyable Tuesday. We're back Wednesday to resume a full week of blogging for our wild Week 17, one that will include the NFL's Pro Bowl announcement this evening at 7 ET.
Pro Bowl voters -- fans, coaches and players -- haven't combined for a great batting average in recent years, part of why the game has lost its luster. (The players' general disdain for contact and effort in the actual game is another.) But nonetheless, we will dutifully review the NFC North selections as quickly as possible Wednesday night here on the blog.
For those who might have missed it, I offered some thoughts on the deserving players in this division last Saturday.
While we have a moment, let's take our morning tour around the NFC North:
The Green Bay Packers are fortunate that the New York Giants might not make the playoffs, writes Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Packers cornerback Sam Shields has played well since his Dec. 9 return from injury, making two interceptions and batting away seven passes, notes Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It will be "great" for the Packers that the Minnesota Vikings might need to win Sunday to get into the playoffs, according to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com.
A small fracture in Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield's hand won't stop his comeback season, writes Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com breaks down the tape of the Vikings' victory over the Houston Texans.
It wouldn't be surprising if Vikings coach Leslie Frazier asked that any discussion of a contract extension be put off until after the season, writes Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com.
The Chicago Bears' offensive line held up against the Arizona Cardinals' blitz last Sunday, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears waived receiver Dane Sanzenbacher on Monday and he was claimed by the Cincinnati Bengals on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press.
Bears defensive end Julius Peppers has come on strong late in the season with 4.5 sacks in two games, notes Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press identifies five plays that have had the biggest impact on the Lions' season.
Justin Rogers of Mlive.com recalls how the Bears ended the Lions' playoff hopes at the end of the 2000 season and suggested it is time for payback.
Working hard, Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News offers 10 bright spots of the Lions' season.