Green Bay Packers win NFC North, but did they deserve it?

Aaron Rodgers

To close an ugly season in an even uglier division, the Green Bay Packers managed to overcome the Chicago Bears and take home the NFC North title on the road Dec. 29.

As a die-hard Packers fan and shareholder of the team, I should be jumping for joy, right?  But I’m not.

Trust me, I’m happy Green Bay will venture into the offseason.  With the way they were playing after quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ week nine injury, I didn’t expect a second place slot, let alone first place in the NFC North.

Yet when you grow up in Chicago as a Packers fan, you hear a lot of smack, a lot of bad-mouthing and a lot of explaining, no matter your age, race, creed or gender.

Every year, I attend the Packers-Bears game in Chicago with my father (who is a die-hard Bears fan – don’t ask me why I joined the dark side, I’ve just liked the Cheeseheads for as long as I can remember). Dec. 29 was no different, nor was our trip to and from Soldier Field with a bus full of Bears fans.

Of course, the disappointed Chicago fans started to explain why the Bears lost, and why it was all unfair.  “The refs were so one-sided, too many calls went in Green Bay’s favor!”  “The Packers’ first touchdown wasn’t even a touchdown.”  “Did you see how generous the refs were with spotting the Packers on first down?”  “We deserved to win, not Green Bay.”

I’m torn.  Yes, I’m a Packers fan, and should be happy to gleam and gloat with the Packers’ victory.  And yet, the Bears’ fans’ explanations have made me question if the Pack really did deserve that win.  Did the Packers really deserve the NFC North title?

In an easy answer: yes.  Green Bay won the title game against the Bears.  Indeed, there were some questionable calls.  But there will be questionable calls in every game.  Was it fair for receiver Jarrett Boykin to pick up an abandoned football, casually cradle it and jog into the end zone for a TD?  Sure it was.  That was Rodgers with the heads-up play realizing the whistle was never blown.  Chicago had just as much opportunity to run it back for six points of their own.

And besides those questionable plays, the Packers frankly played better than the Bears.  Rodgers threw two picks (one of which was the receiver’s mistake), but also threw 2 TDs and racked up more than 300 yards.  The ground men ran for 160 yards, the team took advantage of the clock by chewing up 35-plus minutes and Green Bay committed just one penalty all game.

So if the Packers played this well, with a rusty Aaron Rodgers and against Jay Cutler’s arm and his giant wide receiver targets, why does this win feel dirty?

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Compared to other divisions, the NFC North was in shambles for the most part.  Detroit seemed liked the future winner of the division, and the Bears played tough each week, yet somehow the 8-7-1 Green Bay Packers came out on top.  With a trio of lacking quarterbacks trying to fill Rodgers’ shoes for half the season, the Packers were the last in my mind to come back and win it all.

I’m happy Green Bay is playing San Francisco this weekend in the playoffs, but I can’t get the nagging voice to the tune of a Chicago accent out of my head.  Maybe the Bears, or the Lions, deserved to be in it.  Maybe it’s wrong the Packers are representing the NFC North for the third consecutive year.

If the Packers do well in the playoffs with returning, healthier players, and if both the offense and defense hold up this offseason, I’ll be fully convinced.  But for now, I’ll stick to my short answer, and say Green Bay deserved the title.  It came down to one game between the Packers and Bears.  Maybe the Packers didn’t deserve that chance, but the NFC North handed it to them.

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  • MN

    Not a chance did the Packers deserve to win. There should be nothing to explain about that if you watched the game.

    • bearsfan

      not even a lil bit ..

      • Timothy Lancette

        No matter who plays on any given Sunday the losing teams fans are going to whine that they got the short end of the stick, if your going to use this picture of the play running out of time before the snap then lets go to the pics of the bears players holding on the front line that was constantly ignored by the refs or the receivers being held as they ran down the field or the leg whip/tripping call that was ignored but in plain view of anyone and everyone watching the game! Yes they do deserve the win – if Bears fans have a problem then they should have won the game the week before.

        • Cyhawk

          Let’s not forget that there were 2 ridiculous spots of the ball just before and after the play you depict. Packers had 1st down on the previous play. The only reason it got so late in the clock was McCarthy was determining whether to challenge the spot with his last time out at stake.

          • Packfan45

            They just whine and whine and whine. Did the refs drop the 3 and 17 pass perfectly thrown to Jeffreys? Did the refs convert on 3 consecutive 4th down plays? Did the refs give the live ball to Boiyken after the Bear defender touched it and run it in for a score. Most importantly, did THE REFS CAUSE THE BEARS TO LOSE ENOUGH GAMES TO MAKE THIS GAME EVEN RELEVANT? My God with our backup qb’s the Packers went on a 4 or 5 game losing streak and were at the bottom. Why would a small market franchise get the calls over a huge market like Chicago? Where is there more money? That’s why all we hear about when we came back to beat the Cowboys with Flynn (amazing effort by the whole team) is about how the Cowboys choked. No credit at all to the Packers. If the Cowboys had converted 3 4th downs on Sunday with the clock running out and finishing with a 48yard bomb to win the game against the Eagles that is all you would be reading on these pages. Face it Bears, your team choked again. AFTER FURTHER REVIEW, THE BEARS STILL SUCK!!!!

          • MN

            Why complain about us Bears fans then when you still bumble yourselves into the playoffs? Why don’t you just be grateful with what you got and stop worrying about who didn’t make it!

        • MN

          Oh please there’s nothing to whine about. It’s plain as day that the refs were on the Packers side, and if you couldn’t see that, you’re blind. They caused a couple calls to basically win them the game, adding up to 10 points. I’ll be the first to admit that the Bears defense is atrocious and is what lost them the game ultimately, but it wouldn’t have come down to that point had the refs done their job in the first half.

          • Oh please…

            It wouldn’t have gotten to that point if the PLAYERS had done their jobs in the first place and they had plenty of chances. Choke down those sour grapes Timothy. Just listen to the Bears players, they were blaming the lose on themselves. Just like they blamed last week on themselves. They are gracious losers, you are not. What was your excuse for last weeks embarrassment? Was it the same? Great mustache by the way…

          • Packfan45

            The Packers convert 3 4h downs on one drive and you think the refs gave them the game? Did the refs drop the perfect pass to Alshon Jeffreys on third and 17 that would have all but sealed the game for the Bears? You’re really reaching man.

      • Puleeez

        Your dumb! Everyone but you know that the clock on the field is a half a second faster then what they show on TV, there’s a delay, your TV signal is not instant especially if it’s HD. You see this pic all the time. This picture proves nothing. You got beat. Shouldn’t have gone 3 and out on the first series after that field position, should have taken advantage of 2 int’s and should have had one more (conte), should have picked up the fumble and run it back for your own TD, you shouldn’t have fumbled the punt. Should have stopped the other 4th downs they converted, especially the last one. Worst of all you should have won last week so this game wouldn’t have mattered. Stop whining…be a classy loser.

  • Bob Wysocki

    NOT ONLY DID THE PACKERS PLAY THE BEARS THEY OVERCAME MCCARTHY BONEHEADED MISTAKE OF NOT GOING FOR TWO POINTS AFTER SCORING EARLY IN THE FOURTH QUARTER! THIS IS NOT THE FIRST BAD CALL MCCARTHY HAS MADE THIS YEAR (REFERENCE LOSS TO BENGALS AND 49ERS) AND DECISION NOT TO REPLACE CAPERS AT END OF LAST YEAR. UNFORTUNATELY, THE PACKERS COME BACK FROM DIVERSITY WILL PROBABLY MEAN CAPERS AND MCCARTHY WILL BE BACK NEXT YEAR AND TED THOMPSON WILL CONTINUE TO PASS ON FREE AGENCY AND THE PACKERS WILL BE ELIMINATED AGAIN IN FIRST ROUND OF 2014 PLAYOFFS.

  • Packer Pat

    WOW Talk about whining. Perhaps your team should have taken advantage of the Packers going winless for 5 weeks, to claim the division, instead of focusing on a couple of marginal calls during the last chance game for both teams. And while we’re at it, why didn’t the Bear players get their collective heads out of their behinds and pick up the ball while it was laying there? Had they done that, none of the other plays would have meant anything. Give it up. After further review, the Bears, Lions, and Vikings still suck.