So, after the first weekend of NFC North division matches, we found out a few more things. The Packers are looking more and more like a team that will defend their Super Bowl Championship. The Lions are shaking off the ghosts of Lions teams past with each game. The Bears are looking like the Bears most experts thought they would be. The Vikings cannot hold onto a lead. Three weeks have passed, and the NFC North is starting to take shape.
Packers 27 Bears 17
Here is what I want to get out of the way first. I do not know how anyone looked at this matchup and thought the Bears would win. There was nothing the Bears did in the two previous games that would have shown anyone that they could beat the Packers. These people must have been wearing their navy blue and orange glasses.
The Bears were throttled for the second time this year in only three games. Their defense gave up 14 points right off the bat, and their offense struggled to get going. Was it the lack of a running game, thanks to Mike Martz' refusal to run the ball? Was it Cutler getting hit again and again? I don't know, but the ending score was not as close as it indicated.
If not for some turnovers, this could have been a 35-10 game. The Packers rolled on offense for almost 400 yards. Aaron Rodgers was 28 of 38 for 297 yards and three TDs. Jermichael Finley had 85 yards receiving and was the recipient of all three Rodgers TD passes.
The Bears responded by running the ball nine times, 12 if you count the three times Cutler had to scramble. Nine times. Now Bears fans have to look at Lovie Smith. Apparently his chat with Martz didn't take.
This was more a game about what is wrong with the Bears than about what is right with the Packers. The Packers are rolling, and may not face a loss until they face the Chargers in week 8. For the Bears right now, there is a lot wrong, and it doesn't get easier over the next few weeks, with Carolina and the Rookie phenom followed by Detroit in a Monday night showdown. They could be 1-4 going into into their matchup with the Vikings.
Lions 26 Viking 23
Three and zero.
The Lions are undefeated after three weeks in the NFL season, and the wins have looked impressive. That didn't change with their win against the Vikings this past Sunday. Down 20 points going into the second half, the Lions came back to win it in overtime.
The ending of regulation was classic Lions football. Back-to-back false start penalties for Detroit put them on their own 2. A great punt by Detroit and a stupid personal foul penalty on the Vikings kept them out of field goal range to send the game to overtime.
This was another important game for the Lions, as they win an NFC North division game on the road for the first time since 2007. It is their first win in Minnesota since 1997.
Minnesota had their chances to win this game, but stalled drives and stupid penalties cost them. Matthew Stafford looked like a Pro Bowl QB, throwing for 378 yards and 2 TDs. Calvin Johnson was the man, making a spectacular catch that put the Lions within field goal range in overtime.
The old Lions would have been making travel arrangements at halftime. These Lions tied their shoelaces, went back out and took the game back. The Vikings, meanwhile, gave up their third game in a row where they had the lead in the fourth quarter.
This also repeats a trend where they run Adrian Peterson in the first half, and stop in the second. Peterson ran the ball only 17 times, 12 of which came in the first quarter. Are they trying to rest him in anticipation of making the playoffs? You have the BEST running back in football, and you only run him 17 times. Wow...simply wow. Is Mike Martz the offensive coordinator for Minnesota as well?
It is starting to get bad for the Vikings, and next week may be their only shot at a win this season. Eventually, they will just start giving games away in the first half, and then it gets really bad.
It is early in the season, but last weekend felt like it was a separation Sunday. The Lions and Packers look like honest-to-goodness contenders, while the Bears need to start fixing things in a hurry, and the Vikings seem to be just waiting for a complete implosion.
Next week should be another great week for the NFC North. The Packers get the Broncos at Lambeau, The Bears defense will get a chance to bring Cam Newton down to earth, the Vikings will travel to play the Chiefs (possibly one of the few team worse than they are) and Detroit gets a Dallas team that struggled at home against the Redskins. This may be a 4-0 week coming up for the NFC North.