Written by: John Stocco
We all knew the NFC North was good, but we didn’t think the NFC North would be this good with so many question marks. We’re four weeks into the NFL season, and there are four teams in the division that you can make the case in them being NFC North Champions. Let’s take a look at the strengths and weaknesses of each team playing in the best division in the game.
Chicago Bears: 3-1
The Bears have the best defense in the NFL. They’re dominant, they control the game, and they’re elite. With this defense the Bears will be in every game that they play. The bad news? The offense cannot get any momentum going. The Washington game was nice, but against Green Bay, Denver, and Minnesota, the Bears have relied too much on this defense, they’ve relied so much on them that fans are just hoping for the defense to score touchdowns. Now you bring the injuries into effect. No Trubisky, no Hicks, and now something is going on with Roquan Smith that is keeping him out, and I don’t feel comfortable making any reckless speculations. This is a world class defense that can lead this team to a division title, but there are going to be some days where we have to lean on the offense to put up big numbers. That’s where the Bears can struggle. Against the Raiders, I don’t think they’ll need to lean too heavily on the offense.
Green Bay Packers: 3-1
I never bought in to the Packers defense. Their front seven improved, but they didn’t improve so much where they’re now the most complete team in the division. As it goes for the secondary, I hate when people think Adrian Amos was some huge acquisition. Amos doesn’t cause turnovers, missed tackles, and he was the weak link on the Bears' defense last year. What did the Bears think of Amos? They let him walk to a division rival without even giving him a qualifying offer. When it’s all said and done, they have the best quarterback and wide receiver in the division, and they found a running game. Of course, you can never count out Aaron Rodgers in a big game, but did the Eagles expose the Packers defense? People in Chicago always talk about the ruthless schedule the Bears have coming up. Let’s sit back and enjoy the Chiefs, and Cowboys, pick apart the Packers defense just like the Eagles did.
Detroit Lions: 2-1-1
A team that I never thought stood a chance might be the most complete team in the division. I’m sick. The Lions could honestly be 4-0. They were a couple of plays away from beating the Cardinals, but thanks to the awful timeout call, the game ended in a tie. They capitalized on all the terrible mistakes the Chargers made and pulled out a tight victory. They shocked everyone by going to Philadelphia and outscored the Eagles, and then last week they were going toe to toe with the best quarterback and the best offense in football. If Patrick Mahomes wasn’t superman the Lions might actually win that game. The offensive line has improved, and now they finally have a running game in Kerryon Johnson. Can they get the job done in the end? Can Matt Patricia out coach some of the best coaches in the NFC? I have serious doubts.
Minnesota Vikings: 2-2
When you look at the Vikings on paper, they’re the best team from top to bottom in the division, but there’s a serious problem, and that problem is with Kirk Cousin. There’s also a problem with Mike Zimmer. Every time I watch the Vikings play there’s always a dumb decision made by their head coach. The Bears exposed the Vikings badly on Sunday. If they can’t run the ball, they cannot move the ball. Kirk Cousins has been a disaster. They have a solid defense, Dalvin Cook, rookie Alexander Mattison, and a top 10 receiving core in Theilen, Diggs, and Rudolph. There’s one guy holding him back and it’s Kirk Cousins. They look afraid to throw the ball. There’s zero confidence in him, and without any confidence in your quarterback, and you’re just good to average, week to week, you have a recipe for a bad season. If the Vikings find a way to have a two-headed monster in the backfield, and they find out how to run against great defenses, then the Vikings are right back in as contenders in the NFC North.
25% of the season is complete, and there isn’t a clear cut favorite that’s stood out in the NFC North. Each team is great in their own way, but can there be a team in this division that can fix their weakness the fastest, and run away with the NFC North Championship? The trade deadline is right around the corner.