McCarren: Packers face stretch run in what may be NFL's best division
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
GREEN BAY - Seven games remain in the schedule for the 6-3 Green Bay Packers, with the first coming Sunday at the Detroit Lions.
Five of those games involve the same NFC North teams they're battling for the title in a division that may be the best in football, with a combined record of 23-14.
"I'm prejudiced, but I certainly think it's a prime contender," said Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Packers color voice and TODAY'S TMJ4/NBC26 reporter Larry McCarren on 620WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
"The NFC North is a prime contender. The quality is good. Mike McCarthy hit it right recently when he said that everybody in the division has gotten better, so it's very competitive. This thing is going to come down to the stretch run. Nobody is totally out of it, even though the Lions have a losing record."
The Chicago Bears own the division lead at 7-2 despite their loss to Houston on Sunday.
The Minnesota Vikings stand at 6-4 after beating Detroit (4-5) on Sunday as well. That means all three teams are within three games of each other.
If the playoffs started today, the Packers would stand as the first wildcard in the NFC, and they would face the current NFC East-leading and defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants - the same team they face in New York on November 25th.
The Cincinnati Bengals upset the Giants, a team that was nowhere near a juggernaut at this time last season, but a squad that has a historic tendency to wake up and play its best football when their backs are proverbially up against a wall.
"I don't think the Giants are comfortable unless they're fighting for their playoff lives in December," explained McCarren.
"They seem to do this every year. I remember watching them before they played the Packers in the regular (season in 2011). They played New Orleans, and it was one of the worst displays of football I've ever seen. They played better against the Packers in New York, and then they're hoisting up the Lombardi Trophy. They're not happy unless they're fighting the last few weeks to get in, and then...look out."