NFCN Barroom 6-Pack: Premium Pours for Week 12

NFCN Barroom 6-Pack: Premium Pours for Week 12

Originally established as the Central Division in 1967 as part of the NFL Western Conference prior to the AFL-NFL merger, what is now commonly regarded as the NFC North Division has long inhabited many of the league’s most outstanding athletes. Throughout its nearly 50 years of existence, Hall of Fame careers have been solidified, legendary coaches have passed through and a handful of the greatest teams in league history have thrived.

The NFCN Barroom 6-Pack is our way of paying homage to the athletes and coaches who make the NFC North Division an emotional rollercoaster every single week without fail.

BUD LIGHT AWARD: QB AARON RODGERS | GREEN BAY

The Bud Light Award is presented to the NFC North quarterback who proved ‘Up for Whatever’ challenge thrown his way.

Surgical quarterback play can be viewed in one of two ways — beauty in its purest form or a painfully detailed emotional guide to achieving peak feelings of melancholy and despair. With his team engaged in a generationally rare downward spiral and the postseason hopes of Green Bay Packers fans dwindling, quarterback Aaron Rodgers produced yet another one of his signature performances at Lincoln Financial Field.

Rodgers, who completed 30 of 39 pass attempts (77%) for 313 yards and a pair of scores, guided the Packers to a 27-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and effectively snapped a four-game losing skid to return Green Bay to relevancy. Detroit Lions signal-caller Matthew Stafford and even Chicago Bears huddle leader Matt Barkley deserve praise for their respective Week 12 performances, but no NFC North quarterback dominated the final week of November quite like No. 12.

THE CORONA EXTRA: WR DAVANTE ADAMS | GREEN BAY

The Corona Extra is presented to an NFC North offensive skill player who produced a difference-making effort in a complementary role.

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

The pressure of being drafted to a team best known for its remarkably consistent and successful history can be overwhelming. Making the leap from playing college ball at Fresno State to excelling at the professional level in Green Bay once appeared to be too great of a challenge for 2014 second-round pick Davante Adams, but the now third-year wide receiver appears to have hit his stride.

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Primarily at the expense of cornerback Leodis McKelvin, Adams produced five catches, 113 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns in a game his Packers desperately needed to win. His breakout 2016 campaign includes 58 receptions, eight touchdowns and a team-leading 776 receiving yards.

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

A case could be made for either Anquan Boldin (Lions) or Marquess Wilson (Bears), but Adams’ effort came during a critical game, was unmatched statistically and included terrific catches that less than a year ago almost surely would have clanked off his hands and fallen harmlessly to the ground.

THE ROLLING ROCK: CB DARIUS SLAY | DETROIT

The Rolling Rock is presented to the NFC North defender who guarded his end zone with consistency and dominance through the final whistle.

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

The Lions have never won an NFC North division title. Granted, the North has only technically been in existence since 2002, but that’s still nearly a decade and a half of failing to achieve the franchise’s primary goal of every regular season. If Detroit manages to continue its success through the month of December, however, the Thanksgiving day performance of cornerback Darius Slay will be regarded as a franchise-altering effort.

“Big Play Slay”, as he is affectionally refered to in the Motor City, kept quarterback Sam Bradford and the Minnesota Vikings on edge for 59 minutes before turning in what may prove to be the biggest regular season play in franchise history at the most critical of moments. With the Vikings targeting a walk-off revenge win at Ford Field, Slay hopped in front of a Bradford throw intended for wide receiver Adam Thielen and forced a game-breaking turnover that ultimately led Detroit to a 16-13 Holiday win and a season sweep of Minnesota.

Let’s not kid ourselves: Slay was in a league — er, island — of his own in Week 12.

COORS LIGHT CROWN: K MATT PRATER | DETROIT

The Coors Light Crown is presented to the NFC North special-teamer whose veins turned blue with the pressure on.

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Following the conversion of an NFL record 64-yard field goal while competing in a Denver Broncos uniform back in 2013, Lions kicker Matt Prater made an off-field decision that nearly derailed his career. Playing under special circumstances due to being charged with a DUI in 2011, Prater violated the NFL’s alcohol-abuse program for testing positive for alcohol, which triggered a sequence of events beginning with a four-game suspension and ending with him entering rehabilitation after being released by Denver.

He was promptly signed to a one-year contract by Detroit after serving his penance, and the veteran placekicker has not looked back. Since joing the Lions, Prater has converted 64 of 74 field goal attempts (86.5%), which includes a 12-of-15 mark (80%) from 50 yards and beyond. Most impressively, however, Prater had converted a perfect 23-of-23 “clutch” field goal attempts throughout his career leading up to the Lions’ Thanksgiving game matchup with the Vikings.

The former undrafted free agent out of Central Florida added to his remarkable streak against Minnesota, nailing down a game-tying 48-yard drive with a little over 90 seconds to play prior to sending a game-winning 40-yarder through the uprights as time expired. In combination with his second quarter 29-yard strike and a successful extra point try following a Boldin six-point catch, Prater accounted for 10 of Detroit’s 16 points (62.5%) en route to a critically important win over Minnesota.

MILLER LITE MEDAL OF HONOR: HC MIKE McCARTHY | GREEN BAY

The Miller Light Medal of Honor is presented to the NFC North coach who best proved that games are as much won on the sidelines as they are on the field.

Irrationally high and truly unfair expectations every year; countless injuries to prominent contributors; four wins through 10 games; back against the wall on the road against an upstart Philadelphia team possessing one of the best defenses in the league — and Mike McCarthy found a way.

The Packers are not exactly the type of franchise to roll over and die, and they proved this emphatically with a 14-point Monday Night Football win in the face of news outlets rapidly beginning to suggest that both McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson are working on borrowed time. Green Bay has a long road back to the top, and McCarthy and Thompson aren’t out of the woods yet, but the Packers’ Week 12 road win at the very least suggests they are capable of pulling off the unthinkable.

Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell is as deserving of the Miller Lite Medal of Honor as McCarthy is, but, as we have seen throughout history, Green Bay tends to win its head-to-head matchups with NFC North opponents. (Honestly, I flipped a coin. Consider this punishment for flip-flopping from “Fire Caldwell NOW!” to “Caldwell is probably the best coach in the North”, Lions fans.)

DOS EQUIS CAN’T-MISS PLAY: WR MARQUESS WILSON | CHICAGO

“He dropped a perfectly thrown Matt Barkley pass and a sure-fire touchdown…

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

“…he booted the ball halfway up the arse of a Soldier Field employee…

Credit: NFL Game Pass

Credit: NFL Game Pass

“…it was, the most interesting play in the North…”

No explanation needed. Thank you for this, Marquess Wilson.

 

Did we get it right? Let us know on Twitter @NFCNBarroom or comment below to have your say!

BJ Reidell

BJ Reidell

Robert "BJ" Reidell IV is a St. Paul, Minn. native currently living in beautiful Bismarck, N.D. He began writing about the Minnesota Vikings and NFC North division shortly after graduating from Marquette University in 2014 with the goal of turning his favorite hobby into a career. In addition to contributing to NFCN Barroom, he is a full-time Sports Reporter for the Bismarck Tribune, an NFL Analyst at Vikings Territory, Co-host/Producer of About the Labor: A Minnesota Vikings Podcast and a Fred Biletnikoff Award voter. You can find him waiting in line at Chipotle, enjoying a cold soda at Plums Bar & Grill or on Twitter @RobertReidell.



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