NFC NORTH

NFC NORTH: Packers eliminated from playoffs; Bears extends Cutler; Lions, Vikings seeking new coach

Posted Jan 5, 2014

Green Bay postseason run cut short in 23-20 loss to San Francisco at Lambeau Field Sunday night

It’s been a busy week for the four teams in the NFC North.

As the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings were relieving their head coaches of duty and beginning the search for a new coaching staff, the Chicago Bears were working on a seven-year, $126 million extension for quarterback Jay Cutler.

Of course, no team in the division was having as good of a week as the Green Bay Packers, who spent the week preparing to host the San Francisco 49ers in the wild card round of the playoffs as the division winner.

GREEN BAY

The Packers had the most envious position of any team in the NFC North. They were still playing football.

Unfortunately, their postseason run was cut short thanks to San Francisco 49er’s kicker Phil Dawson, who hit a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the 49ers a 23-20 win.

The Packers finished the season 8-8-1, which certainly doesn’t give the division any bragging rights around the NFL.

Lions fans watching the game Sunday night probably couldn’t have helped thinking what a playoff game vs. the 49ers would have been like at Ford Field this weekend.

Could the Lions have beaten the 49ers at home?

CHICAGO

Bears fans have a love/hate relationship with Jay Cutler.

Jay CutlerQB Jay Cutler (Photo: AP Images)

He’s 39-28 over the last five seasons, but has one playoff victory on his resume and has dealt with a number of injuries.

Cutler even admitted during the press conference announcing his extension this week that not all Bears fans would like the move.

"There are definitely people going to be saying this was the wrong move," Cutler said via the Chicago Tribune. "That's fine. That's their opinion. The guys in this building, the people in this building, we'll stick together and we'll keep going in the direction that we think is right."

Cutler has more wins (11) against the Lions than any other team he’s played. Cutler is 11-7 with 15 touchdowns, five interceptions and has a 91.7 passer rating in 18 games vs. Detroit.

MINNESOTA

Like Detroit, the Vikings are in the midst of coaching search they hope can take them over the hump.

Minnesota let go of Leslie Frazier after he went 21-32-1 in 3 ½ seasons as their head coach.

''We're not going to box anything in,'' Vikings general manager Rick Spielman told Vikings.com this week. ''There is no specific offense, defense, college coach, high school coach, whatever. It is a coach that we feel is the best fit for our organization.''

Frazier has already landed on his feet, however, as the new defensive coordinator in Tampa Bay under their new head coach Lovie Smith.

DETROIT

The Lions coaching search will continue into its second week as they’re expected to interview San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhust.

The team interviewed Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell on Friday.

Both Whisenhunt and Caldwell are believed to be in the mold of what the Lions are looking for in their next head coach, which is offensive-minded with head coaching experience.

With San Diego defeating Cincinnati in Sunday’s wild-card round of the playoffs, the Lions would not be able to hire Whisenhunt until after the Chargers are eliminated from the playoffs. He wouldn’t be available for a second interview until after the AFC Championship Game, if the Chargers make it that far.