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NFC North Frontrunners: Examining The Schedule (Week 10 Edition)

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The Bears Won. The Packers won. The Lions were able to withstand the terrors of the bye week.

The Bears maintain their position as third in the NFC North, despite a win against the Eagles on Monday Night Football. While the Lions were on bye, something interesting happened. The Bears three opponents after Detroit all lost their respective games, drawing them all to 4-4. None of them can seem to get a hot streak going, and that's probably a good thing for the Bears.

Follow us after the jump, where we'll look at how the Bears, Packers, Lions opponents are standing, and why a big help for the Bears could be...the Packers? Wha?

Here's how the opponents for each of the top 3 NFC opponents works out, with totals at the bottom (the conclusion of Thursday Night Football is factored in):

Week Bears Record Packers Record Lions Record
10 Lions (6-2) Vikings (2-6) @ Bears (5-3)
11 Chargers (4-5) Buccaneers (4-4) Panthers (2-6)
12 @ Raiders (5-4) @ Lions (6-2) Packers (8-0)
13 Chiefs (4-4) @ Giants (6-2) @ Saints (6-3)
14 @Broncos (3-5) Raiders (5-4) Vikings (2-6)
15 Seahawks (2-6) @ Chiefs (4-4) @ Raiders (5-4)
16 @ Packers (8-0) Bears (5-3) Chargers (4-5)
17 @ Vikings (2-6) Lions (6-2) @ Packers (8-0)
Opp. Record: (34-32) Opp. Record: (38-27) Opp. Record: (40-27)

The Bears continue to have the best looking opponent record--their opponents' schedules total up to about a .500 record--where as the Packers and Lions opponents are significantly over .500.

We got a glimpse of the Chargers and Raiders, and while the Raiders D looks semi-legit, it's not unreasonable to feel comfortable about the Bears ability to play to win those games. One item to take a look at, though. The Bears alternate home/awayin weeks 11-16, which is unfortunately when they play the AFC West. So they get the Chargers at home, then fly to Oakland, fly back to Chicago for the Chiefs, then fly back to Denver, then fly home for Seattle, then the relatively short jaunt to Green Bay to take on the Packers for Christmas Day. I'd like to say that if the Bears can come off the back half of the schedule at 5-3, they'd have a pretty good shot at a wild card spot, but this year is tough. 6-2 is probably a much more sure thing. That means they have to beat up on these .500 teams while they can.

The Packers schedule looks like it could cause them a hiccup or two, but nothing to keep them from winning the division/leading the NFC for a #1 seed. If they want to lock it down, they might want to start playing defense, because they face teams that can put up points, and teams with some good running backs. If opponents can start wearing on their D, and keeping Sir Aaron Rodgers off the field a little bit more, their could be an upset or two on the back of this schedule--but don't expect a full-on collapse.

The Lions' numbers are skewed, a little bit, because they have two match-ups against the 8-0 Packers left on their schedule, but I think that's going to be a split, at best. I could see them winning at Ford Field, but I'm hard pressed to see them going to Lambeau on New Year's Day and taking a game, even if it turns out to be a must-win for them.

Circle Week 13 on your calendars. While we'll be taking a look at these matchups every week, Week 13 seems like it could be an indicator for where exactly the division is sitting. The Bears have some games they should win, the Lions have some games they might lose, and we should be able to project the season a little bit more.