I was expecting the Seahawks would beat the 49ers in Seattle on Sunday night, but I didn't expect a 42-13 thrashing. The 49ers should beat the Cardinals next week and clinch the NFC West, which is probably for the best since it would prevent the Seahawks from hosting a playoff game, but the Packers now lead for the No. 2 seed and a first round bye.
As for the Packers win over the Titans, it wasn't much of a game: the Packers dominated. Even K Mason Crosby was perfect, though his 48 yard field goal did hit the upright before bouncing good. Everything was working, from dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball to dominating the passing game on offense and defense. The only criticisms were that the offense was lousy on 3rd downs (2 for 11), QB Aaron Rodgers could have had even bigger game if he had been a little bit more accurate on a couple of near touchdown passes to WR Greg Jennings and WR James Jones, and the secondary didn't properly rotate their deep coverage on a long completion that set up the Titans' lone touchdown at the end of the game. Otherwise, the Packers excelled and the Titans looked so bad that it might have cost Titans' head coach Mike Munchak his job. The Packers clearly proved Mike McCarthy right and that they'll be playing the whole regular season through.
The only question is how severe is WR Randall Cobb's ankle injury. While I was watching it happen, a Titans player landed on the back of Cobb's leg during a punt return and twisted it on the ground, I was expecting the worst. He did manage to run/limp off the field on his own power, and the last I saw of him, he was on the trainers' table having the wrappings removed from his right ankle.
Losing arguably their best wide receiver would be a blow, but it could be offset by the return of WR Jordy Nelson. Though he has not been practicing over the last couple weeks, the Packers take their time with hamstring injuries as an organizational rule. For example, once they let LB Clay Matthews finally return to the lineup, he's been his usual dominant self over the past couple games. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the same from Nelson.
This sets up a match-up next weekend against the Vikings, which the flex schedule has moved to 3:25 CST next Sunday, The game will be in Minnesota against a Vikings team that needs a win to secure a wild card spot, while the Packers want the No. 2 seed and a first round bye. Since their last meeting on December 2nd, a 23-14 win for the Packers, the Vikings have been on a roll with three quality wins to improve to 9-6.
While the Vikings are finishing the season strong, the same thing could be said about the Packers (winners of 9 of their last 10), Redskins (winners of their last 6) and the Seahawks (winners of their last 4). The Falcons and 49ers aren't exactly struggling, but they've each had an ugly loss in recent weeks (the 49ers loss to the Seahawks; the Falcons lost two weeks ago in Carolina). The Redskins and Vikings are probably the pretenders of the NFC playoff picture, ranked No. 11 and No. 20 respectively coming into Week 16 by Football Outsiders, but their late season surge can't be ignored.