5. The Quiet Make-Or-Break Games: Minnesota (Week 9), Chicago (Week 14)
The latter deserves a shout-out just for being played on Soldier Field in December. But with a rookie head coach, a porous offensive line and aging defense that lost its captain (LB Brian Urlacher) to retirement, this year’s ship may already have sailed on the Bears.
The honorable mention instead goes to Minnesota and the most productive and astonishing rusher of his generation: Adrian Peterson. If anyone can validate the weaknesses in the ‘Boys defensive line, it’s AP — you can bank on it.
In the end, it’ll all come down to these conference matchups. It’s the NFC East — mediocrity is par for the course, and the second-tier records are all the more important. Why should this year be radically different?