Bears shine as the rest of NFC North struggles
Who would have thought that the Chicago Bears would be the only team to get a win this weekend in the NFC North? Especially since they were going up against their rival Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. They were able to dominate in all aspects of the game and come away with a 20-10 win. The Green Bay Packers lost a close one to the Atlanta Falcons 33-32. The Detroit Lions could not secure a fourth quarter comeback, which led to a loss to the Houston Texans 20-13. Here is how the division looks after this weird weekend.
Vikings: 5-2, Packers 4-3, Lions 4-4, Bears 2-6. A few weeks ago, it looked like the Vikings would easily walk away with their second consecutive division title. Now things are up in the air. Division games could definitely decide who comes away with the title. Here are some key areas that each team needs to improve upon in order to give themselves a chance.
Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler has been labeled a coach killer. Every year it seems that the Bears have someone new running the system. This year they appear to have some consistency within their team. Cutler will need to overcome a mediocre offensive line and make key throws. Last night, it looked like he acquired another talent to help him out in Jordan Howard. Their defense has been doing well as of late, but they lack leadership. They are the only team that does not have a former Pro Bowler on the defensive side. Overall they have dug themselves into a tough hole starting the year 2-6, but you never know. Sadly, I do not see them being able to overcome their deficit. Cutler will continue to live up to his name.
Detroit Lions: Every single game they have played has been within SEVEN points. Talk about a team that makes every game interesting! Matthew Stafford has done a great job bringing them back for a win in some games, then other games he comes up short. If the Lions want any chance of making the post season they are going to need to start getting ahead early and stop playing catch up. One of their biggest problems is the health of the running backs. Each week they seem to bring in someone new to compete. They will need some consistency in order to get some chemistry. Their defense also will need to step up. The remainder of their schedule is against some solid quarterbacks. If they cannot keep the opposing offenses off the field it will be hard for them to win games. Matthew Stafford can only do so much to help this team.
Green Bay Packers: "Aaron Rodgers is terrible. Aaron Rodgers is the best. Aaron Rodgers is killing this team. Aaron Rodgers is their savior." I have heard it all this season when it comes to his play. There are games when he looks fantastic and reminds us all why he won an MVP. There are other games he looks terrible and makes us question if he is on the decline. Last week, against a high powered Falcons team, he looked in MVP form. Yet they still came up short. Why? Their defense has a lot of older guys, and they are banged up. It is hard to win games when the opposing team is faster and stronger than you. The Falcons offense just ran over the Packers defense. If they want to reclaim the division title from the Vikings, their defense needs to step it up. Get some fresh bodies in there to give others a break. Also Aaron Rodgers needs come consistency. They need to watch out for the Lions who are right on their tail.
Minnesota Vikings: At one point this year, there was a debate whether or not they would go undefeated. That was before their bye. Now it is two weeks later and they have two awful losses. Their offensive line has such a huge part of that. Sam Bradford is getting no time to throw the ball, and when he does the receivers are covered. Not to mention, the running game has been absent all season. In order to turn things around they will need to have the guys up front play much better. If not, the offense will be stagnant the rest of the season. People seem to put some of the blame on the defense the last two weeks, but they are so wrong. It is hard to play on a defense when the offense goes three and out every drive. They have a huge game coming up next week against the Lions. Mike Zimmer is going to need to rally this team together and get back to what they were earlier this year.
This next week will be an interesting one that's for sure! A lot of things could shake up the division. Hopefully my Vikings will get it together, otherwise we will be in trouble.