One thing is for sure, the race to the playoffs will be anything but boring in the North.
- Vikings 5-2
- Packers 4-3
- Lions 3-3
- Bears 3-4
Vikings (Last week: Win, 24-16 vs Ravens)
One thing that the Vikings do better than any other team in the league right now is stop teams on third down. They are currently allowing teams to convert for a first down on only 27% of third down plays.
Minnesota won’t give you anything you haven’t seen on offense. Through the first half on Sunday they had three field goals and no touchdowns. However, the Vikings are seventh best in the league when it comes to turning drives into points. They may not always be for six, but 39.7% of their offensive drives end in points.
When you combine these two factors, a defense that can take teams off the field and an offense that will find a way to score, you end up winning a lot of football games.
Next game: @ Browns
Since the beginning of the 2016 season, Cleveland is 1-22. Expect that to become 1-23 after Hue Jackson and the Browns hop across the pond to take on the Vikings in London this Sunday.
Packers (Last week: Loss, 17-26 vs Saints)
The Hundley experiment is officially underway. There was a lot of speculation throughout the week on what we would see from the backup quarterback who has stepped in to Aaron Rodgers’ oversized shoes. One thing no one seemed to expect was that Hundley wouldn’t actually be a large part of the gameplan.
Brett went 12/25 for 87 yds with a rushing touchdown and an interception. While 25 attempts seem like a respectable number, the problem was when they came about. Hundley showed some promise in the first quarter, especially showing how dangerous he can be with his feet. After that quarter he was basically shut down by the play calling.
McCarthy seemed to stick with the plan on running the ball on 1st and 2nd down and throwing on 3rd. This allowed the Saints to stack the box on the early downs and bring the pressure on 3rd. We’ll have to see more creativity from McCarthy if the Packers are going to win in Aaron’s absence. He needs to find a way to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, and 5 total receptions between Nelson, Adams, and Cobb isn’t going to cut it.
If there’s one thing from this game that the Packers can hang their hat on it is Aaron Jones. In his second NFL start, Jones averaged 7.7 yards per carry for 131 yards and a touchdown. His patience and vision have been highlights early on.
Next Game: Bye
Lions (Last week: Bye)
The Lions are kind of a hard team to analyze. They don’t do anything great or anything horrible. Basically what they do best is keep games close in the end. Their average margin of victory this year so far is +2.
Detroit ranks 19th in the league for passing yards and 26th for rushing yards, but they rank 8th in the lead in points scored. They do this because of their bend-don’t-break defense. Detroit’s defense allows a lot of yards and a lot of points (19th and 28th in the league respectively) but they also get a lot of turnovers and give their offense a chance.
If there is one thing you can count on with this Lions team, they will keep the game interesting.
Next game: Vs Steelers
If the Lions want to be anything more than a middle-of-the-road team this year they have to show that Sunday night. The Steelers are a good team all around. They have the second ranked defense in the league and Roethlisberger is surrounded by weapons on offense.
The Bears pulled off the upset in week 3, can the Lions do the same?
Bears (Last week: Win, 17-3 vs Panthers)
Cue the record scratch, the Bears have matched their 2016 season win total. The Panthers turned the ball over to the bears 3 times this game, twice for touchdowns to Eddie Jackson. He returned a fumble for 75 yards in the first quarter and then took a tipped Cam Newton pass 76 yards to the house.
If the Bears don’t have those points from their defense this is a 3-3 game at the end of regulation and the Bears have 153 total net yards. Trubisky threw the ball a total of 7 times in this game with 4 completions for 107 yards. Have to love coming out of a game with a win when the other team almost doubled your time of possession and yardage.
Next game: @ Saints
The Saints have one of the best passing attacks in the league, while the Bears are ranked 31st. Playing old school football has gotten the Bears 3 wins this season (including against the Steelers and Panthers), we’ll see if it will get them a fourth.