We're Black and Blue All Over:
As we noted earlier in the week, the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford is 305 yards away from becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to produce back-to-back 5,000-yard seasons. (New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees needs 219 yards to do it as well.) It's worth noting, of course, that Stafford would do it by setting a record for the most passing attempts in an NFL season as well.
Drew Bledsoe established the record of 691 attempts in 1994. Stafford has 685 at the moment, which has already surpassed the 663 he threw last season. The Lions are averaging 45.6 attempts per game, and Stafford has at least 50 in his past two.
Speaking to reporters this week, offensive coordinator Scott Linehan suggested the Lions' offensive scheme will always have among the five-most passing attempts in a season. But Linehan added: "Generally speaking you don't want to have 50 attempts in a game unless that's your game plan ahead, behind or not. Because if you do, you're generally trying to catch up."
Continuing around the NFC North on the final Friday (!) of the 2012 regular season:
Lions coach Jim Schwartz doesn't sound like someone looking to change offensive coordinators after this season. Schwartz, via Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News: "I think he's done a great job," Schwartz said. "An offensive coordinator's job is to put guys in position to make plays, and I think that over the course of the season we've been in good position to make plays."
Lions kick returner Stefan Logan on being benched in Week 17, via Justin Rogers of Mlive.com: "I'm mad, at the same time, there's nothing I can do about it. That's the coach's decision. I blame myself. I'm not blaming the coaches, I blame myself."
A sample of Lions center Dominic Raiola's response to trash talk from Chicago Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton, via Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press: "It's tiresome, especially from a guy like this, a guy that didn't even play the past two weeks. ... I don't know what to say anymore. In my book, he's a clown."
The Bears are counting on their defense for Sunday's game against the Lions, writes Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune.
Tailback Matt Forte (ankle) looked good in practice Thursday, according to Bears coach Lovie Smith, via Michael C. Wright of ESPNChicago.com.
Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Is Lovie a good coach? Are these 2012 Bears any good? After 15 games, we still don't know."
Interesting angle from Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers' unique challenge of adjusting to the type of running back he has behind him.
First-year receiver Jeremy Ross would replace Randall Cobb on returns Sunday if Cobb can't play because of an ankle injury. More from ESPNMilwaukee.com.
Packers defensive lineman Mike Neal has emerged as a consistent pass-rushing force this season, writes Weston Hodkiewicz of the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Chip Scoggins of the Star Tribune traces the quiet resurrection of the Minnesota Vikings' defense this season.
Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders if this season is a payback for the Vikings' history of disappointments.
This season should bring stability to the Vikings' coaching staff, writes Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com.