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NFC North News and Notes: September 24

Posted Sep 24, 2013

We take a look around the NFC North to see what the Vikings closest competition has going on…

Vikings

Last Week: 40-23 win at Pittsburgh

The Bears headed out on the road after picking up a pair of closely-contested home wins over the Bengals and the Vikings to start the season, and found things to be rather easy in cruising to a 40-23 win over the Steelers at Heinz Field on Sunday night.

Chicago’s defense was even more dominant than they usually are, as the unit created five Steelers turnovers, two of which they returned for touchdowns.  The Bears never trailed in the game and led 24-3 after Major Wright’s pick-six midway through the 2nd quarter.  The Steelers clawed their way back into the game but Juluis Peppers’ fumble return for a score sealed the win.  That was Chicago’s fourth time scoring two or more touchdowns on defense over the past two seasons.

The bad news for the Bears defense is that Pro Bowl DT Henry Melton left the game with a knee injury in the 4th quarter, and on Monday the team announced that he tore his ACL and will miss the remainder of the season.

Offensively for the Chicago their numbers on this night weren’t too flashy, thanks in large part to the two defensive scores and turnovers that set them up on short fields.  Jay Cutler threw for 159 yards and a score while not turning the ball over at all.  On the ground, Matt Forte had a 55-yard run but outside of that the team had 27 carries for 52 yards.

This Week: Bears at Lions, Noon on Sunday

Chicago will look to put some distance between themselves and the Lions, who currently sit in second place in the NFC North, one game behind the unbeaten Bears.


Offseason Overview

Vikings

Last Week: 27-20 win at Washington

After last week’s sloppy loss in Arizona to the Cardinals, the Lions evened up their road record at 1-1 by keeping the Redskins winless thanks to the 27-20 win on Sunday, making it their first win in Washington since 1935, a streak of 21-straight losses.

Matthew Stafford had another huge day, throwing for nearly 400 yards and a pair of scores.  On this day he was without one of his main pass-catching targets, Reggie Bush, who sat out due to a knee injury suffered last Sunday.  In his place, Joique Bell continued his impressive start to the season, totaling 132 total yards and a touchdown.

Calvin Johnson did what Calvin Johnson does, and that means he had 100-plus receiving yards and the game-winning touchdown, which came midway through the 4th quarter. Ex-Viking Nate Burleson actually outgained Johnson by a yard on this day, giving the Lions a pair of 100-yard receivers.

Robert Griffen III was better on this day than he was in the first two Redskins losses, but he was still forced to throw it 50 times so the Lions defense held up strong given the number of times Washington attacked through the air.  The Lions forced him into three fumbles, one of which he lost, and he also threw a pick to Chris Houston.

This Week: Lions vs. Bears, Noon on Sunday

Detroit returns home after a successful 1-1 road trip, and now takes on the 3-0 Chicago Bears in the battle of what are currently the NFC North’s top two teams. Turnovers are what generally do the Lions in when things go south, and no team is better at generating them than Chicago.  If the Lions can hang onto the ball and avoid too many mental mistakes, they could head into October tied for the division lead.


Vikings

Last Week: 34-30 loss at Cincinnati

The Packers and Bengals each turned the ball over four times, so as you would expect this game had several swings, with the last one going in favor of Cincinnati as they improved to 2-1 on the season, winning 34-30.

It seemed like this game was going off the rails quickly for the Packers, as the Bengals went 80 yards in six minutes on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead, and then the Packers fumbled the kickoff and Cincinnati punched it in on the first play after the turnover, making it 14-0.

However, the next six scoring plays all went the way of Green Bay, who led 30-14 in the 3rd quarter after three field goals and three touchdowns, making them the first team since 1999 to score 30 consecutive points in a game and still lose.

Andy Dalton threw a pair of touchdown passes to get the Bengals back in the game, and then with 3:47 left in the 4tg quarter, Terence Newman picked up a fumble by Packers rookie RB Johnathan Franklin, who was filling in for an injured James Starks.

Outside of the fumble, Franklin had a solid day in rushing for 103 yards and a score, the second straight week the Packers have had a 100-yard rusher after going nearly 50 games without one.

Aaron Rodgers came back down to earth after his amazing performance last week versus Washington, throwing for 244 yards with the one touchdown pass to James Jones and a pair of picks. 

Defensively the Packers forced and recovered three Bengals fumbles, but had to be disappointed with the end result considering they were up 16 points with just over a quarter to go in the game.

This Week: Bye

After their bye week, the Packers return to action by playing four of their next six at home, including their next game on Oct. 6 against the Lions.

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