NFL Quick Shots: NFC North gets tough '08 draw

Reed Schreck

Finally, Green Bay gets Dallas at Lambeau Field. That will happen in 2008, date and time to be determined.

The Packers also will be home to Atlanta, Carolina, Houston and Indianapolis. They will travel to New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Jacksonville and Tennessee.

Chicago will be home to New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Jacksonville and Tennessee. It will go to Atlanta, Carolina, St. Louis, Houston and Indianapolis.

Both teams, of course, will have their usual NFC North games with Detroit and Minnesota -- and each other.

Breaking it down, both Chicago and Green Bay get six games against playoff teams. Two of those games for the Bears, of course, are against the Packers.

The Vikings and Lions each will have seven games against playoff teams.

Overall, the schedule the NFC North will face looks a lot tougher than this year, when the division got to face the woeful AFC West.

Still, who knows?

"You see teams that we've beat handily and those are teams that have had great years that nobody else has been able to beat," Bears running back Garrett Wolfe (Northern Illinois) said. "You see teams that have beaten us and those are teams that everyone else been able to beat.

"So it all depends on who straps it up on that Sunday."

Lesson learned

Devin Hester, return man. Devin Hester, receiver. Devin Hester, passer.

Well, almost on that last title. He was supposed to throw a pass in Sunday's season-ending 33-25 win over New Orleans.

Instead, he showed poise you might not expect when he had his chance to play Tom Brady.

The call came on Chicago's first snap at its own 47 with 4:39 left in the third quarter. Kyle Orton handed off to Adrian Peterson, who handed off to Hester on a reverse. Hester was supposed to throw downfield to wideout Mark Bradley, but the play took too long to develop and Hester decided to hang on to the ball instead of risk a turnover. He was sacked for a 15-yard loss.

"I was (going to throw), but when you're the quarterback when the receiver is covered, you tuck the ball and take the loss instead of throw an interception," Hester said.

Refreshing response

Bears safety Adam Archuleta could have made excuses for his sub par play this season.

He didn't.

"Just the disappointment overall in my play," he said when asked what was the hardest part personally. "I really didn't hold up my end of the bargain."

Was his confidence affected? Athletes usually say, "No, not at all."

Not Archuleta.

"Yeah, I think so. I think that's natural. This is a confidence game and definitely, my confidence took a hit, took a blow this year. This is not a forgiving game."

Something good on TV

The New England-New York Giants game was as good as anyone could expect -- neither team had to play all-out to win, as both had playoff berths settled. Kudos to both coaches for approaching the game with playoff intensity.

The Patriots, of course, had the incentive -- to finish 16-0. The NFL benefited from a historical game that deserved to be, and was, treated as such.

The Giants just happened to be caught in a tough place, being the last obstacle in the Pats' way. They basically were obligated to try and deny New England, instead of resting their starters. Perhaps playing New England so tough will help them when they travel to Tampa Bay for their wild-card matchup.

Reed Schreck's NFL Quick Shots appear Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or