NFC North Week 6 Review: ... and Then There Was One

Donne ViauContributor IIOctober 17, 2011

DETROIT - OCTOBER 16: Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers drops back to pass as Ndamukong Suh #90 of the Detroit Lions attemps to block the pass during of the NFL game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on October 16, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The 49ers defeated the Lions 25-19.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Sorry about missing last week, but I was enjoying the hangover of the Detroit Lions' Monday night win over the Chicago Bears.  I was lucky enough to be at Ford Field for the game, and it was awesome. 

This week further entrenched the Green Bay Packers as the team to beat. The Lions came back to earth, the Bears got a second lease, and the Minnesota Vikings started looking to the future.


49ers 25, Lions 19

If anyone at the beginning of the season thought that this was going to be a must-watch game, they would have been forced to take a breathalyzer test. 

This was a good game between two teams you hope meet again in the playoffs. Right now, the 49ers look very good.  They rolled up 203 yards rushing against the Lions front four. Their defense kept Calvin Johnson in check (no touchdowns). 

Yet the Lions still could have won this game.  Matt Stafford had a good game with 293 yards passing with two touchdowns. The Lions didn't look bad in the loss. The 49ers simply looked great in the win.

The Lions now need to win against the good teams. Four of their wins have been against teams with records that were .500 or lower.  With Atlanta at home and then a trip to Denver, they need go into the bye week with a 6-2 record. The last thing they need is to go into the bye week on a three-game losing streak.

The second half of the season starts at Chicago, Carolina, Green Bay, and at New Orleans. It gets tough quickly.


GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 16: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball against the St. Louis Rams at Lambeau Field on October 16, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  The Packers beat the Rams 24-3.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Packers 24, Rams 3

Will anyone beat the Packers?  While the Rams had over 400 yards of total offense, they had three points to show for it. 

Aaron Rodgers had another spectacular game with 310 yards passing and three touchdowns. The odd thing about this game is that there was no scoring in the second half.  It was as if the Packers wanted to work on their rushing game. Make no mistake, the Packers shut themselves down in the second half, and that is a scary thought. 

The Packers do have a few games that could trip them up.  After their bye next week, they visit the San Diego Chargers, then two weeks later the Bucs head to Lambeau. The Packers visit the Lions on Thanksgiving and then play at the New Meadowlands against the New York Giants

That stretch will prove their meddle. They could go 5-0 or 1-4 (they are not losing to the Vikings in Week 10).  Either way, they continue to prove that they are the best team in football. 


Bears 39, Vikings 10

The Bears needed this.  They had to have this type of victory.  They dominated in all aspects of the game.  If they had barely beaten the Vikings or—worse—lost, the Bears would be in a free fall and the fan base would begin to turn against them. 

The Bears held Adrian Peterson in check. Jay Cutler had time to pass and make plays. The Bears ran for over 100 yards, and Devin Hester added to his record return touchdown total. The Bears and their fans can breathe a little easier, but not for long.

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16: Amobi Okoye #91 and Israel Idonije #71 of the Chicago Bears tackles Christian Ponder #7 of the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on October 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Tasos Katopodis /Getty Images)
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Bears had one good game. They did what they were supposed to do against a very bad Vikings team. All they have proven this season is that they can beat bad teams. 

Now they have to fly to England and play a very gritty Tampa Bay team that just beat the New Orleans Saints and now sits atop the NFC South.  Another loss to an NFC team could spell doom for the Bears playoff chances, especially if both the Lions and Packers win.  

The Vikings, on the other hand, most likely began the Christian Ponder era in Minnesota.  Donovan McNabb was ineffective.  Once the Bears shut AP down, it was over.  This Vikings team is lucky to have one win because they are awful, and Ponder has inherited it. 

Now the one thing I will give McNabb is that the Viking receivers dropped balls like they were franchise tags.  In the past, McNabb's feet would make up for it.  Now he doesn't have that elusiveness.  Five sacks tell that story.

From this point on, Christian Ponder should take the wheel. He had the elusiveness. He had the arm. He just didn't have the receivers. The Vikings need to improve their passing game going to have any hope of salvaging next season. They have a good defense (although they got smoked last night). They have a great running back. They have potential in Ponder. Now they need the receivers.


Wrap Up

Week Six is over for the NFC North, and the only sure thing is that the Packers are the ones to beat. 

The Lions fell back to earth with their first loss, but it wasn't a bad loss. 

The Bears won a game they had to win, and they won impressively. 

The Vikings are sliding down toward a top pick in the draft.  The next four to five weeks should be very interesting and fun to watch.