Packers in position to regain 1st place

The Packers can sit back and relax this Sunday, still feasting on their Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit in their Silverdome finale. That doesn't mean football won't be on the Packers' minds. First place in the NFC Central goes on the line again as the 7-2 Bears take on the 4-5 Vikings in the Metrodome in primetime (7:30 p.m., ESPN). If the Vikes can beat the Bears, Green Bay will regain a share of the division lead.<p>

The Packers can sit back and relax this Sunday, still feasting on their Thanksgiving Day win over Detroit in their Silverdome finale. That doesn't mean football won't be on the Packers' minds. First place in the NFC Central goes on the line again as the 7-2 Bears take on the 4-5 Vikings in the Metrodome in primetime (7:30 p.m., ESPN). If the Vikes can beat the Bears, Green Bay will regain a share of the division lead.

Minnesota will be looking for payback. The Vikings lost to the Bears 17-10 at Solider Field Sept. 23. A home winning streak is also on the line, as the Vikings have won four straight in the dome.

This one could be a shootout. In three games vs. the Bears, Vikes QB Daunte Culpepper has completed 61.2 percent of his passes with four TD passes and one pick. Meanwhile, the Bears' Marty Booker holds third place among NFC receivers with 61 including 7 TDs.

The Bears tend to give up a lot of yards, if not points. That may work against less-potent offenses such as the Buccaneers, but with Randy Moss in the Minnesota arsenal, a soft defense could prove fatal to the Bears. On the flip side, Chicago may find itself unable to take advantage of Minnesota's Achilles' heel. The Vikings defense is weak against the run, but Chicago running back Anthony Thomas' injury takes away that perk.

The only NFC Central team not facing a division rival this week is the Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers (4-5) find themselves in a showdown with 8-1 St. Louis on Monday Night Football. All five Central Division teams enjoy a national spotlight this week.

At first glance, this may seem like a great matchup, with Tampa Bay's defense taking on the NFL's most dangerous offense. Look at the numbers, however, and the Bucs' defense may be living on reputation alone. They rank 21st in the league – a huge drop from recent years. Can they stop Kurt Warner, who comes in with more than 2,700 yards and a passer rating of 94.5? Tampa will have to counter with some offense of their own. Keyshawn Johnson leads the NFC with 71 receptions, but remarkably has yet to score a touchdown.


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