NFC North standings
Detroit Lions: 4-2
Green Bay Packers: 4-2
Chicago Bears: 3-3
Minnesota Vikings: 2-4
Green Bay Packers
Last week: 27-24 win at the Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins came within one drive and a last-second play of upsetting the Packers on Sunday. The Packers started off the game hot and put together a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive after the opening kickoff. For the next several drives, the Dolphins squandered excellent opportunities to take control of the game after they started two consecutive drives in Green Bay territory courtesy of an excellent kick return and a blocked punt. But they walked away with only three points. In all, the Dolphins offense was woefully inefficient in the first half, with two interceptions, one turnover on downs and two punts compared to a lone field goal. For their part, the Packers only managed a single first-half field goal after their initial touchdown.
Things shifted drastically in the second half with an offensive explosion. Both teams marched 80 yards for touchdowns on their first drives of the second half, and the Dolphins also converted their next two drives as well. This scoring put the Dolphins up 24-17 at the top of the fourth quarter. The Packers pulled within four after a Mason Crosby field goal with a little over four minutes left in the game. On the Dolphins' final drive, the Packers held the Fins to a single first down before forcing a punt. Thanks to a somewhat short punt, the Packers took over at their own 40-yard line with 2:04 left to play.
The Packers' final drive was something out of a play-by-play announcer's dreams. Over the course of the 11-play drive, the Packers converted one fourth down, offensive lineman T.J. Lang made a miraculous play to dive on an Aaron Rodgers fumble, Rodgers executed a successful fake spike play and Rodgers found tight end Andrew Quarless for a 4-yard touchdown reception with only three seconds left on the clock. This was a classic comeback that allowed the Packers to match the Lions' 4-2 record on top of the NFC North.
T.J. Lang - As mentioned above, Lang made a fantastic hustle play to come out of nowhere and cover up Rodgers' fumble on the Packers' game-winning drive. The Packers lose without Lang's effort on that play.
Aaron Rodgers - He's back to his old form.
Davante Adams - The young receiver had one of the best games of his career against the Dolphins. He caught 6 of 7 targets for 77 yards and looked like a wily old veteran on the fake spike play.
Running game - One week after the Packers' running game showed its first signs of life in 2014 amid Green Bay's slaughter of the Vikings, Eddie Lacy and company were once again stuck in the mire. Lacy ran for only 40 yards and a 2.9 yards per carry average and was not targeted once in the passing game. The team actually opted for James Starks on the game-winning drive, evidently because they view Starks as a better pass catcher.
Special teams - The Packers special teams unit gave up kickoff returns of 52 and 37 yards on Sunday and also allowed a blocked punt. Luckily for them, the Dolphins only collected three points off of those two miscues.
Next week: At home against the Carolina Panthers (3-2-1)
Last week: 27-13 win at the Atlanta Falcons
This game showed us the Bears team that Bears fans have been promising for a few years. Not only did the offense move the ball and put up big numbers, but the defense was the dominating Chicago defense of five years ago. The Bears held the Falcons to only 287 yards and held the ball for an impressive 36 minutes.
Both teams struggled to get started offensively in the first half, with the Bears entering the break with a 13-3 lead after stalling twice in the red zone. The Bears looked like they might be in trouble at the start of the second half, as the Falcons put up 10 consecutive points. However, that was all the offense Atlanta could manage for the day, while the Bears answered with touchdowns on their next two drives. The fourth quarter saw the teams trade punts while the Bears conservatively milked the clock, and the Falcons could not string any drives together.
Jay Cutler - Yeah, yeah. Even a blind Cutler finds a nut every once in a while. Cutler was 26-for-38 and threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. Most important for the Bears, he did not commit any of the turnovers that have plagued him all season (and career).
Matt Forte - The Bears are in all-out Forte mode right now and are shoveling him as many touches as he can handle. Forte is incredibly elusive in open space, and the Bears are giving him as many of those opportunities as possible in that setting by dialing up short dump-offs and screens. For the second week in a row, Forte hauled in double-digit receptions and had over 150 yards from scrimmage.
Jared Allen - Jared Allen was only credited with one sack and one quarterback hit against Matt Ryan, but he dominated his matchup with rookie left tackle Jake Matthews. Allen drew two holding calls against Matthews and hurried Ryan seven times.
Time of possession - As mentioned, the Bears controlled the ball an impressive 36 minutes against the Falcons.
Jordan Mills - Mills, the right tackle for the Bears, had a rough game on Sunday. He was responsible for three of the Bears' seven penalties on the day and was weak in pass protection.
Next week: At home against the Miami Dolphins (2-3)
Last week: 17-3 loss at home against the Detroit Lions
For a recap of the Lions' smothering of the Vikings, see the rest of POD's coverage here.
Next week: At the Buffalo Bills (3-3)