NFC North: Rapid reaction 14
You kind of figured things would go the Bears' way Sunday when Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard threw his first pass into a crowd of four defenders. The ball hit nickel back Danieal Manning in the chest, and the play ultimately led to Chicago building a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
The Jaguars did not put up much of a fight at Soldier Field, but give the Bears credit for bouncing back from their disappointing loss at Minnesota last week. Most notably, quarterback Kyle Orton produced an encouraging bad-weather performance, completing 62.5 percent of his passes and throwing two touchdowns on a chilly and windy day.
The Bears will need similar outings in their next two games, also at Soldier Field, against New Orleans and Green Bay. Those matchups are two winnable, prime-time games that give the Bears a real chance to pull even with the Vikings in the NFC North.
It could happen as early as this week, with the Bears facing the Saints at home while the Vikings must protect their division lead at Arizona.
Hold on for a wild ride.
Few thought the Texans could pull off a victory Sunday at frigid Lambeau Field. But the scary part is that Houston's last-second victory shouldn't have been that close. The Texans lost two fumbles deep in Packers territory, and a third near midfield helped set up a Green Bay touchdown.
Those turnovers couldn't hide a Packers defense that continued its second-half collapse. The Texans rolled up a whopping 549 offensive yards on a relatively normal 74 plays, meaning the Texans averaged more than seven yards per play.
The Packers were without linebacker Brandon Chillar and safety Atari Bigby. But no matter who starts for you, it's hard to give up much more than 550 yards in a 60-minute NFL game. This performance should provide a blueprint for the Packers' growing offseason "to-do" list.
And that's where Green Bay appears headed at the end of the regular season. The Packers are not officially out of the NFC North playoff race, but it will take late-season collapses from both Minnesota and Chicago for them to make it. We all have to face it: The Packers are not a playoff-caliber team.
Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
DETROIT -- This game was blacked out on local television, so I guess it's appropriate that I come to you via Blackberry thanks to a wireless outage at Ford Field.
Boys and girls, the Vikings squeezed by the winless Detroit Lions in nerve-wracking fashion here. The Lions appeared to be moving in for the go-ahead score with less than six minutes remaining, but a reversed third-down catch by Calvin Johnson forced the Lions to settle for a field goal and a one-point deficit.
It was hardly an aesthetic victory for the Vikings, who now have to worry about both the "Williams Wall" and Frerotte's health. But the win allowed them to hold on to first place in the NFC North with three games to play.