NFC North: 2010 Week 13 Wrap-ups

Wrap-up: Packers 34, 49ers 16

December, 5, 2010
A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 34-16 victory against the San Francisco 49ers:

What it means: The Packers improved to 8-4 and kept pace with the Chicago Bears (9-3) in the NFC North. In the process, they beat the 49ers for the ninth consecutive game and improved to 35-6 in regular season December/January games at Lambeau Field since 1990.

About those unis: I tried to prepare you gently last week for the Packers' throw-back uniforms, which featured brown helmets, blue jerseys, and a different shade of brown pants. They harkened back to the Packers' first championship team in 1929, when color didn't exist. Enough said.

Rodgers Watch: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a season-high 135.1 passer rating and has now gone five consecutive games without throwing an interception. His pair of deep throws to Greg Jennings, going for 57 and 48 yards, were perfectly-placed. I would say Rodgers has hit his stride at just the right time of the season.

Jennings Watch: Jennings produced his third consecutive 100-yard game, catching six passes for 122 yards. In the seven games since the Packers lost tight end Jermichael Finely, Jennings has 43 receptions for 761 yards and eight touchdowns.

Starks Watch: I'll be the first to admit that I'm surprised that rookie tailback James Starks played as well, and as much, as he did Sunday. Active for his first game at any level in two years, Starks carried 18 times for 73 yards. Coach Mike McCarthy said the plan was to get him perhaps 10 carries but that "he improved as the game went on." To put it nicely, the Packers' running game has underperformed this season. But give McCarthy some credit for providing an opportunity to a rusty but talented rookie this late in the season. We'll see whether this performance was a function of adrenaline and chance, or whether the Packers have stumbled into a real late-season find.

Driver Watch: The determination and effort receiver Donald Driver showed on his 61-yard touchdown play was unparalleled Sunday. Nothing more needs to be said.

Collins Watch: I believe that was safety Nick Collins doing a pirouette on Vernon Davis' 66-yard touchdown reception. Collins was in position to tackle Davis at about the 45-yard line but ran right past him. It all comes out in the wash of a victory, but it wasn't the greatest of moments for an otherwise Pro Bowl safety.

What's next: The Packers will travel to Ford Field to take on the Detroit Lions next Sunday.

Wrap-up: Vikings 38, Bills 14

December, 5, 2010
A few thoughts on the Minnesota Vikings' 38-14 victory over the Buffalo Bills:

What it means: The Vikings are now 2-0 since interim coach Leslie Frazier took over for Brad Childress. They remain on the far fringes of the playoff hunt at 5-7, trailing nine other teams for six NFC playoff spots. But they're due for an interesting week while trying to determine whether quarterback Brett Favre can recover from a sprained shoulder in time to start next Sunday against the New York Giants.

FavreWatch: Favre sprained his right shoulder on the third play of the game after a hit by the Bills' Arthur Moats. He spent most of the game watching from the sideline in full uniform, but Frazier said the team's medical staff had already ruled him out for the remainder of the game. Favre has proved he has a high pain tolerance, most recently by playing with two fractured bones in his left foot. But a quarterback's throwing shoulder is an entirely different story. Frazier said Favre will remain the starter "if he's healthy." But it's hard to play quarterback with a sprained shoulder.

T-JackWatch: I'm not sure if backup Tarvaris Jackson had a chance to wrest the starting job away from Favre with a sterling performance, but his performance Sunday made that a moot point. As per his custom, he mixed in some beautiful throws and nice runs with a few head-scratchers, most notably a first-quarter interception that Bills cornerback Drayton Florence returned for a touchdown. His 31-yard touchdown pass to receiver Sidney Rice was thrown into double coverage and required a highlight-reel catch to avoid an interception. Overall, Jackson completed 15 of 22 passes for 187 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

PetersonWatch: Tailback Adrian Peterson, running behind a line that was without left guard Steve Hutchinson (thumb), sure didn't look like he spent most of last week sidelined by a sprained ankle. He tallied three touchdowns and looked as fast as ever on a 43-yard touchdown gallop in the fourth quarter.

What's next: The Vikings will host the New York Giants next Sunday at the Metrodome.