NFC North recap: Are the Vikings the favorites to win the division?

Pride of Detroit

Though I’m sure many of us are still digesting and trying to make sense of the Detroit Lions’ Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, it’s time to turn our focus to the rest of the division.

Bears start slow, but finish strong over the 49ers, 19-10

It took them a while to get going, but once they did, it was smooth sailing for the Bears. The 49ers held a 10-0 lead midway through the third quarter until the Bears finally punched one in on a 51-yard pass from Justin Fields to Dante Pettis.

We also got a touchdown from Equanimeous St. Brown—Amon-Ra’s brother—a mere three minutes in time difference from Amon-Ra’s touchdown against the Eagles. Pretty cool.

The Bears struggled to get things going in the ground game with their starting back, David Montgomery, whose longest run of the game was just six yards—he finished with 17 carries for 26 rushing yards. Khalil Herbert did his best to pick up the slack and his 3-yard touchdown run gave the Bears a nine-point lead halfway through the fourth quarter.

San Francisco had a couple of chances to take the lead back or bring it to within one score again, but an interception and two other drives that ended in a turnover on downs spelled their doom.

As a reward for their tough-fought victory, the Bears have been given the right to play the Packers in Lambeau next week. Congratulations.

Next game: @ Packers (0-1)

Vikings trounce the Packers in home opener, 23-7

Vikings

Like the Bears, the Vikings start the season off with a win under a new regime. Unlike the Bears, the Vikings actually got out to a quick start, and they never looked back.

Justin Jefferson had a massive game and continues to make his case as arguably the best wide receiver in this league. I’d probably take Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams over him, but it’s hard to find many other names that are better at the WR position. Jefferson got things started for the Vikings capping off a 10-play, 78-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception.

Later on, he would add a 36-yard touchdown reception that put his team up 17-0 before halftime, and finished the game with nine receptions, 184 receiving yards and the two aforementioned touchdowns. Jefferson accounted for 66 percent of Kirk Cousins’ 277 passing yards. Incredible stuff.

While the offense certainly did their part, the defense had their fun as well. Jordan Hicks, Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith and D.J. Wonnum all got to Aaron Rodgers for one sack each and four total on the day. Rodgers clearly looked uncomfortable out there, and without Davante Adams, there was no security blanket to throw to. The Vikings defense also created two turnovers, but only scored three points off of them.

Next game: @ Eagles (1-0)

Packers

Obviously, not a banner day for the Packers, but we’ve seen this before. Last year, the Pack suffered a brutal 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 1, and then won seven straight games as a response. Now, I’m not saying that’s going to happen again, but it might be too soon to count this team out for the rest of the season. We can still laugh at them, though!

Rodgers did not have a fun time going up against Minnesota’s defense and former teammate Za’Darius Smith. He finished the day with only 195 passing yards on 34 attempts (5.7 yards per attempt), zero touchdowns and one interception.

The Packers rushing attack faired a little better, but for some reason they decided to give AJ Dillon the bulk of the carries (10) over Aaron Jones (5). As a team, the Packers ran for 111 yards on 18 carries, but since they were down three possessions to start the second half, they needed to focus their efforts on the passing game, and that’s where the wheels fell off.

Next game: vs. Bears (1-0)

Standings after Week 1

t-1. Minnesota Vikings (1-0)
t-1. Chicago Bears (1-0)
t-3. Detroit Lions (0-1)
t-3. Green Bay Packers (0-1)

Not exactly how I would have drawn things up, as the Vikings and Bears sit on top of the North, but plenty of time for that to change. In fact, I could easily see a four-way tie in the North next week. For that to happen, the Lions would have to notch their first win at home over the Commanders, the Packers would have to beat the Bears at home, and the Eagles would have to beat the Vikings at home. I could see it.

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