NFC North Week 4 Review: Thanksgiving Is a Long Way off

Donne ViauContributor IIOctober 3, 2011

MEG-A-TRON!!Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Who would have thought that the Thanksgiving Day matchup of the Packers at the Lions would possibly be for the lead in the NFC North?  Who would have thought that the Bears' defense was just as bad as their offense?  How many of us thought that the Vikings may be the second team to go 0-16?  A quarter of the season is over for these four teams and while the standings are looking to be what people were predicting, how they got there was not.  This week provided another glimpse into the NFC North and why it is the best division in the NFC.

Lions 34 Cowboys 30

After the first half was finished it had seemed as if the Lions had fallen back to Earth and the Cowboys were on their way to the playoffs.  20-3 was the score and mirrored what happened with the Lions the week before.  The defense wasn't stopping anyone and the offense couldn't get going.   Luckily for the Lions, the second half mirrored the Vikings game as well. 

Three second half INTs (two for TDs) by Romo and the Lions got going.  Calvin Johnson was able to shut-up Rob Ryan and Cris Carter (a feat in itself) with two TDs (for the fourth game in a row).  This game was another chance for the Lions to show they are legitimate contenders for the NFC North, and they did it soundly.  The 31-10 run in the second half proved it.

The Lions must beware of these slow starts.  Eventually, they will face a team that will not allow them to get back in it.  With the Packers, Bears, Saints and Chargers still on their schedule, they had better stop letting the games get out of hand early.

Bears 34 Panthers 29

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 2: Devin Hester #23 of the Chicago Bears celebrates after he scoring a touchdown on a 69 yard punt return against the Carolina Panthers at Soldier Field on October 2, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Hester broke the NFL record with his 11
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Mike Martz was told to start running the ball, and run the ball he did.  31 rushing plays for 224 yards while passing 17 Times for 93 yards.  Matt Forte ran all over the Panthers.  The Bears offense overpowered and beat up the Panthers on the ground.  Their special teams proved special as Devin Hester broke the record for punt/Kickoff return TDs.  It was all that rushing that kept the ball out of Cam Newton's hand.  If it weren't for that and penalties the Panthers committed we might have been talking about a 1-3 Bears team.

The defense was awful.  The Bears' defense gave up 543 total yards.  That was against a rookie QB and an inexperienced offense.   Steve Smith torched them as he had done in previous meetings.  In fact, the Bears' defense has not looked good since the drubbing they gave the Falcons

With some offensive powerhouses coming up, they had better figure out how to stop people or they will be looking at a high draft pick in 2012.

Chiefs 22 Vikings 17

Well at least the Vikings didn't blow a lead in the second half.  The lead went back and forth through most of the game until the fourth quarter.  Donovan McNabb looked better in this one, throwing for 220 yards and two TDs, but now they couldn't get their running game going.  Adrian Peterson rushed for 80 yards averaging 3.5 yards a carry.   The Vikings defense did a decent job keeping the vaunted Chiefs offense in check, but with five FGs and a TD, the Chiefs took this game.

The Vikings are in trouble.  They are 0-4 and the schedule does not get easier.  This was the only winnable game for how they are playing right now.  If you look at their schedule, who do they compete with?  Maybe Carolina?  That is the only game I can see them possibly winning. 

KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 02:  Visanthe Shiancoe #81 of the Minnesota Vikings carries the ball as Donald Washington #27 of the Kansas City Chiefs defends during the game on October 2, 2011 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Sq
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Vikings need to figure something out, because they are on their way to 0-16 and possibly a new address in LA?

Packers 49 Broncos 23

I think Aaron Rodgers just scored another TD.  The Packers are dominating.  They are beating up on teams and scoring enough points early to make comebacks seem fruitless.  If they get behind early, they take a step back, breathe and then remember that they are defending Super Bowl Champions. 

Aaron Rodgers threw for 408 yards and four TDs in this blowout.  He also had two rushing TDs as the cherry on top of that stats shake.  The defense did not let their foot off the throat of the Broncos.  This was a dominant performance for the Packers and puts to rest any questions that they are the best team in football.

The running game is hurting, but as long as you have Rodgers, who cares.  They faced two bad offensive teams in the past two weeks and kept them out of the game.  Their defense still needs to show that they can control a good offensive threat for 60 minutes.  That won't come until after the bye, with the Chargers, Lions (twice) and Giants.  Until then, they should just keep rollings.

Right now the NFC North has the two remaining undefeated teams in the Lions and the Packers.  They do not face each other until the annual Thanksgiving Day game at Ford Field.  That is a long way off, but if you look at the schedules of these two teams, it could be very likely that round one for the NFC North title will be played that day.  Some Thanksgiving, huh?

Next week it is another great week of games for the NFC North.  The Bears are at Ford Field for the Lions first Monday Night game in a decade.  The Packers fly to Atlanta for the Sunday night game that has the Falcons wanting revenge.  Lastly, the Vikings host the Cardinals as both teams try to right the ship and save their seasons.