Welcome to the NFC North Report. This will be a weekly look at what’s going on with the Packers and their division rivals. What a week to launch this new article! With the injury to Aaron Rodgers, the NFC North race just got a lot more interesting. The Vikings lead the division after beating the Packers, with the Lions and Bears lurking in the shadows.
- Vikings 4-2
- Packers 4-2
- Lions 3-3
- Bears 2-4
Vikings (Last week: Win, 23-10 vs Packers)
This was a big win for the Vikings in the wake of Aaron Rodgers’ injury. They move to 4-2 and are tied for the lead in the NFC North with the tiebreaker (division record).
Sam Bradford’s knee is still a mystery, and while Case Keenum has filled in admirably for Minnesota, they will be glad to get quarterback Teddy Bridgewater practicing again this week. With the fifth ranked defense in the league, the Vikings don’t need to rush Bridgewater back before he’s ready. Through his five games played this season Case Keenum has a 93.1 passer rating and the Vikings offense is fifth in yards with 2136. A serviceable offense and an elite defense will keep the Vikings in every game this season.
Next game: vs Ravens
The Ravens weren’t able to get the ball in the end zone last Sunday and have struggled all year to get the passing game in rhythm (third lowest in yardage this year). Don’t expect that to change against the Vikings defense.
Packers (Last week: Loss, 10-23 @ Vikings)
Coming into this game Aaron Rodgers had been sacked 19 times in 5 games. On pace for 60.8 sacks this year. Every time Rodgers is hit Packers fans collectively hold their breath for fear of the worst. Well, on Sunday those fears came true. Aaron has a broken collarbone on his throwing arm and may miss the year.
Aaron Rodgers is good for eight games, alone. I firmly believe that with the level he had been playing at, you could put Aaron on any team in the league and he would get them eight wins. I have no way of sounding unbiased, so I’ll just say it, we have never seen the quarterback position played as well as Aaron Rodgers plays it.
The loss is devastating for the Packers, but there’s still hope for the season. Rodgers being out for the year is still speculation at this point. If Hundley can get enough wins under his belt to keep the Packers in the playoff hunt Rodgers may be able to heal and retake the reins.
Don’t look too much into Hundley’s performance on Sunday. Having to come into the middle of an NFL game is a daunting task for any backup quarterback. Add onto that playing against one of the most intimidating defenses in the league and the injuries to Bulaga, Taylor, and Bakhtiari on the offensive line, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Hundley will have a week to prepare with the starters (those that are healthy at least) and will be going against what is typically a generous Saints passing defense. Sunday’s matchup against New Orleans will give a much better look at what we can expect from Hundley in Rodgers’ absence.
Next Game: vs Saints
All eyes will be on Hundley and the Green Bay offense, but Drew Brees against the Packers secondary will be the matchup that determines this one.
Lions (Last week: Loss, 38-52 @ Saints)
The Lions are tied for second in the league right now with 14 takeaways, maintaining a +6 turnover differential.
Remember the Packers’ 2010 season? Remember what made the Packers the dangerous team they were? They snuck into the playoffs, a long shot wildcard team, all the dominoes having to fall into place. And yet, no one wanted to play us. Media coverage going into the playoffs kept saying it, no one wants to play against the Packers.
Why was that? Two big reasons: a quarterback that can make magic happen, and a defense that force a lot of turnovers. The Green Bay Packers were second in the league in 2010 when it comes to takeaways (32). Who was number one? You guessed it, the Pittsburgh Steelers (35), the team the Pack met in the big game.
Continuing to win the turnover battle will guarantee the Lions stay competitive throughout the season. I like what I’ve seen from them this year and when it comes to quarterbacks that you want on your team when you’re down in the 4th, Stafford is on my short list.
Next game: Bye
Bears (Last week: Win, 27-24 @ Ravens)
In his second NFL start Mitch Trubisky got the first win of his career. In their win over the Baltimore Ravens he threw 8/16 for 113 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen ran the ball 50 times for for 197 yards. The Bears know the strength of their team is in the running game and they’re going to lean on it to give Trubisky a smooth transition into the league.
Aikman threw twice as many interceptions in his rookie year (18) as he had touchdowns, and in Peyton Manning’s first year he threw more interceptions (28) than any rookie had before or has since. So what I’m saying is, Trubisky doesn’t need to be good this year. Heck, he doesn’t even need to look good. If the Bears want him to be their savior at quarterback, the experience he gains as starter this year will be invaluable.
Next game: vs Panthers
Through six weeks the Panthers have allowed the fifth fewest rushing yards to opponents. This may force the Bears to lean more heavily on Trubisky than they did last Sunday.