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Monday, November 12, 2012
BBAO: NFC North race tightens

By Kevin Seifert

We're Black and Blue All Over:

Well then. A few things changed in this division after I departed the Metrodome early Sunday evening.

The Chicago Bears lost for only the second time this season, a 13-6 defeat to the Houston Texans that tightened our NFC North standings. There is now one game separating the Bears (7-2) and Green Bay Packers (6-3). The Minnesota Vikings, meanwhile, are now 1.5 games off the pace at 6-4.

The Bears also lost their quarterback and good luck charm for an undetermined time after Jay Cutler suffered a concussion at some point during the first half. How important has Cutler been to the Bears of late? Going back to Week 7 of last season, they are 12-1 in games he starts and finishes and 1-6 in games he's missed or left early.

The Bears signed Jason Campbell to give them a better fallback than they had last season in Caleb Hanie, but rare is the team that effects an entirely smooth transition to its backup quarterback. Coach Lovie Smith couldn't estimate how much time, if any, Cutler would miss, making this story one of our top priorities for the next few days.

But while we have a moment, let's take a tour of Sunday's local coverage in the NFC North: