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NEW ORLEANS -- Is the NFC North down to two contestants?
That question seemed appropriate after watching Green Bay get steamrolled Monday night at the Superdome. The Packers (5-6) now trail Chicago (6-5) and Minnesota (6-5) by one game with five to play.
It's by no means an insurmountable deficit. But at the very least, the Packers will need help to win a division that many people favored them to take when the season began. They simply don't have enough head-to-head matchups left to do it on their own.
Green Bay has already finished its season series with the Vikings, and its remaining game against the Bears is at Soldier Field.
But such details won't be important until the Packers figure out what happened to their revered pass defense Monday night. In what was considered a strength-on-strength matchup, they were carved up by Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
You wouldn't expect an MVP candidate to fall completely on his face against any defense. But a good pass defense should at least make its share of plays. Instead, Brees compiled a near-perfect 157.5 passer rating, completing 13 consecutive passes at one point. He ended the game with 20 completions in 26 attempts for 323 yards and four touchdowns.
When the season is over, it's possible that NFC North observers will look back on Monday night and consider it the point where clarity began to emerge in the division race.