NFC North: Packers on the Rise
The Chicago Bears are leading the NFC North, but after Green Bay’s win Sunday night against Houston, no lead in the division is safe.
Currently the Bears enjoy a half game lead over the Minnesota Vikings as the Bears are 4-1 and the Vikings are 4-2. Green Bay is in third at 3-3 and the Detroit Lions are a half game back of the Packers at 2-3. Last week the Bears enjoyed a bye week.
However, they had to have seen the Lions come from behind to defeat the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay to rip apart the previously undefeated Houston Texans, behind Aaron Rogers at quarterback who had six touchdown passes. Lovie Smith the head coach of Chicago said on Monday that the NFC North had taken a step forward over the weekend.
Many had written the Packers and Lions off due to their slow starts and had considered the NFC North to be just a two horse race between the Bears and Vikings. Those thoughts should now be the furthest things from anyone’s minds.
The NFC North might possibly be the league’s best division at this point in the season. All four teams are starting to bunch up and they are taking care of business outside the division. The outlook of the division is vastly different this season than it was last season after six weeks. Last year the Packers were in front with a record of 6-0, the Lions were second at 5-1, the Bears were 3-3 and the lowly Vikings were a dismal 1-5.
The Lions started to show signs of last year’s heroics by pulling off the win late in the fourth quarter against the Eagles, something they did on numerous occasions last season. The Packers also seem to be reawakening after playing inconsistent through five weeks and then taking apart the Texans last week behind the pinpoint passing of Rogers.
This week the Packers are on the road at St. Louis, while the Vikings host Arizona. A key matchup in the NFC North features the Lions visiting the Bears on Monday Night Football. The Bears last game against the Lions was a 37-13 rout that included other activities besides football like fisticuffs and helmet pulling.
If the Bears can win, they can stretch their lead over the Lions to three games. The Packers and Vikings should get victories this week.
On the quarterback front, Rodgers became just the fifth NFL player in history in a regular season game to throw for at least 330 yards, with six touchdowns and no picks. He also was sacked just twice on the night against Houston, which is a good sign for the offensive line of the Packers.
Christian Ponder of the Vikings had 352 yards last week in their loss along with a 67% completion rate. He however, played his worst game with three turnovers and not much success in the red zone the three times the team was there in the first quarter of the game. In his first four games, he had zero picks, but has four in his last two games.
Matthew Stafford for the Lions was 7 for 21 after three quarters against the Eagles, but in the fourth he was 15 for 24 and the Lions scored two TDs and two field goals. He now has seven fourth quarter or overtime victories in his short career.
Jay Cutler for the Bears was out on a bye week.
Rodgers is ranked first in the league at this time with a rating of 105.4. Ponder is 10, Stafford 24 and Cutler 25.