NFC North roundup: A Week 11 full of thrillers in the division

USA Today

Week 11 proved to be a thrilling Sunday across the NFC North. All three games involving the four teams in the division wound up being decided in the final minutes, with two winners and two losers.

The Lions, of course, eked out a 31-26 win over the Chicago Bear in Ford Field to improve to 8-2. With the rest of the outcomes on Sunday, Detroit holds a three-game lead atop the division entering the final seven weeks of the season.


Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears running back Khalil Herbert is tackled by the Detroit Lions defense, including Quinton Bohanna (90) during the first half at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023.

The Bears blew a 26-14 lead in the final four minutes, allowing Detroit to score two touchdowns, a 2-pt. conversion and a safety in the final 3:26.

After the game, rampant criticism on the Bears organization has rained down from national media, but especially local media in Chicago. Former Bears TE Martellus Bennett summed it up nicely (read his whole thread on X),

The Bears, now 3-8, will attempt to regroup before playing the Vikings in Minnesota on Monday Night Football in Week 12.

Green Bay Packers

Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

While the Lions were beating the Bears, the Packers hosted the Los Angeles Chargers in a back-and-forth thriller of their own. The two teams traded scores and the lead all afternoon.

It came down to one final drive. The Packers took a 23-20 lead with just over two minutes to play on a Jordan Love-to-Romeo Doubs touchdown pass. The Chargers went 3-and-out quickly, then forced the Packers into a 3-and-out of their own. With 1:27 to go, down three with no timeouts and 80 yards to go, Justin Herbert had a chance to throw a dagger into the hearts of the Lambeau Field faithful. And he nearly did it…


On 3rd-and-6 from the Chargers 30, Herbert threw a deep strike up the right sideline to first-round rookie wideout Quentin Johnston, who had two steps on his defender and a clear path to the end zone once he caught the ball. Except Johnston bobbled and bumbled the perfectly thrown ball off both hands not once but twice and it flew away from glory onto the cold turf. The Packers got a stop on the next play and prevailed.

Green Bay won for just the second time in seven games, improving to 4-6. The Packers visit Ford Field on Thanksgiving, hoping to keep their postseason hopes alive.

Minnesota Vikings

Nov 19, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton (14) catches a touchdown over Minnesota Vikings cornerback Mekhi Blackmon (5) in the fourth quarter at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Much like the Bears, the Vikings did an excellent job snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Minnesota led the Broncos in Denver from early in the second quarter through deep into the fourth, limiting the Broncos to five field goals on numerous drives where Russell Wilson seemed poised to get Denver into the end zone. Down 20-15 after a Greg Joseph field goal for Minnesota, Wilson got one last chance to get his Broncos into the end zone.

Mission accomplished. Wilson hit Courtland Sutton for a touchdown strike with 1:03 to play. The 2-pt. conversion failed (badly), leaving Minnesota and QB Joshua Dobbs a minute to get into field goal range for Joseph.

The Broncos might’ve provided a blueprint for how to play defense against Dobbs in crunch time. Instead of sitting back, the Broncos brought constant pressure on Dobbs and forced a meek effort that wound up losing net yards. Denver won 21-20.

The Vikings are now 6-5, which is still good enough for the No. 7 and final playoff spot in the NFC. Just below them is Green Bay at 4-6.

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