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Friday, November 14, 2008
Audibles: NFC North Week 11 preview

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Chicago Bears (5-4) at Green Bay Packers (4-5), 1 p.m. ET
What a huge game this will be for the Packers, no matter how the day unfolds. A victory, combined with a Minnesota loss. suddenly makes the NFC North a three-way fight over the final six weeks of the season.

On the other hand, a Bears victory at Lambeau Field would leave the Packers two games out in the division and in a tiebreaker disadvantage with the Bears. It would also turn their current slump -- five losses in seven games -- into a more serious downturn.

The Bears are hoping Kyle Orton will start at quarterback, but the bigger issue is their defensive mismatch against Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his array of weapons. If Tennessee's Kerry Collins can approach 300 yards against them, what will Rodgers do?

Detroit Lions (0-9) at Carolina Panthers (7-2), 1 p.m. ET
Just when the Lions were starting to get competitive (at least), they upended their quarterback situation and now are back in preseason mode.

Detroit is hoping to be more competitive in Daunte Culpepper's second start since joining the team, but the truth is they have started from scratch. Backup Drew Stanton will continue to have some sort of role as well, possibly on the goal line. We challenge you to come up with many recent examples were NFL teams have consistently won with a pre-determined quarterback rotation. There aren't many.

The Lions' best bet is to hope for self-destruction from the Panthers, who struggled last week at Oakland but have played well at home this season. They're 6-0 at Bank of America Stadium -- well, 5-0 at this moment. But it seems like 6-0 is just a formality.

Minnesota Vikings (5-4) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3), 1 p.m. ET
The Vikings' recent history in Tampa has drawn the interest of a few skeptics this week. And yes, it's true the Buccaneers have won the past five games at Raymond James Stadium and eight of the past 10 between the two in Tampa.

But the bigger obstacle for Minnesota might be the Bucs' quick-hitting pass game, which can take the legs out of a good pass rush. Tampa Bay quarterbacks have only been sacked 10 times this season, and the Vikings might not get many hits on quarterback Jeff Garcia. If the game plays out that way, Minnesota will be robbed of one of its most valuable game-changing strengths.

There is also some curiosity about what Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin might come up with after two weeks to prepare for tailback Adrian Peterson and quarterback Gus Frerotte. Tampa Bay has 12 interceptions this season, and Frerotte has been more than willing to serve them up of late. It's a bad combination for the Vikings.