NFC North standings
Detroit Lions: 5-2
Green Bay Packers: 5-2
Chicago Bears: 3-4
Minnesota Vikings: 2-5
Green Bay Packers
Last week: 38-17 win at home against the Carolina Panthers
If you turned this game on late, it was already effectively over. The Packers scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives while forcing three consecutive three-and-outs to start the game with a 21-0 lead. The Packers added another touchdown in the second quarter while the Panthers managed only a single field goal. The Panthers' struggles continued in the second half, and they did not find the end zone until the top of the fourth quarter. In all, this was the Packers' most dominating performance of the year on both sides of the ball.
Randall Cobb - Cobb has been a touchdown machine this season for the Packers. Through seven games, Cobb has already tied his season-high touchdown count (8) and has scored at least one touchdown every week this season except for against the Lions in Week 2.
Clay Matthews - After playing through injuries for most of the past year, Matthews is starting to look like his old self. Matthews only had two tackles on Sunday, but he also contributed on one sack and was awarded a +4.9 grade by Pro Football Focus for his play against the run and his quarterback pressures. He also picked off quarterback Cam Newton and returned the interception for a touchdown, but the play was called back due to a penalty.
This was a complete win. The score would likely have been even worse if the Packers hadn't taken their foot off the gas by the third quarter. They get a lowlight-free pass this week.
Next week: At the New Orleans Saints (2-4)
Last week: 27-14 loss at home against the Miami Dolphins
Do you know which Chicago sports team has the most wins at Soldier Field this year? If you said the Blackhawks, you're right. It is safe to say that the Bears are reeling right now. They started their Sunday matchup poorly, with three punts and an interception in the first half. The Dolphins were much sharper, scoring two touchdowns while missing one field goal to enter the half with a 14-0 lead.
The Bears opened the third quarter with a promising 80-yard touchdown drive, but it was all downhill from there. The Dolphins responded with a touchdown on their next drive, and the Bears offense subsequently imploded. They mustered only 6 yards on their next two drives, both of which ended in fumbles. Although this gave the Dolphins excellent field position, the Fins struggled to put the Bears away and walked away with only three points. The Bears managed another touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, but they could not complete their comeback after losing the ball on downs on their final drive of the game.
Jeremiah Ratliff - The 10-year veteran defensive tackle found the quarterback 3.5 times on Sunday, the same amount of sacks he had in the past three seasons combined.
Matt Forte - Forte is currently leading the entire league in receptions with 52 and is essentially carrying the Bears' offense on his back at this point. For the past three weeks, the Bears have just shoveled Forte the ball as often as possible through runs and short passes. He has responded very well and has been one of the most effective backs in the league this year.
Turnovers - Quarterback Jay Cutler is the primary turnover culprit in Chicago this year. He had two more turnovers this week and has 10 on the season. In each of the Bears' four losses this season, Cutler has had at least one turnover. On the season, Chicago's opponents have scored 37 points off of Cutler's turnovers alone.
Zen - The Bears are currently in full meltdown mode. After their loss took them below .500 on the season, their locker room disintegrated into finger-pointing. Receiver Brandon Marshall seemed to be the main culprit, reportedly calling out Cutler and kicker Robbie Gould (that one is a little confusing). Marshall obviously has a history of outbursts like this, and I would file this as a distraction rather than a team motivator.
Next week: At the New England Patriots (5-2)
Last week: 17-16 loss at the Buffalo Bills
The Vikings were the latest victim of the Bills' late-game magic. This game was actually pretty slow up until the final drive, with both teams dinking and dunking around the field. Both teams suffered from turnovers, sacks and inefficient red-zone play, resulting in a low-scoring affair. With three minutes remaining in the game, the Bills took over possession on their own 20-yard line down 16-10. Quarterback Kyle Orton proceeded to march the Bills on a 15-play drive, which was kept alive with a conversion on fourth-and-20. Orton capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Sammy Watkins, his second of the day.
Jerick McKinnon - I have criticized the Vikings' coaching staff over the past few weeks for refusing to trust their electric rookie with the starting running back role. In his first career start, McKinnon showed how dangerous he can be by gashing the Bills for 103 yards on just 19 carries.
Linebackers - Chad Greenway and rookie Anthony Barr anchored the Vikings defense on Sunday. The two linebackers combined for 25 tackles, two forced fumbles and two pass defenses. This game was Greenway's first back from an injury that had sidelined him for the past few weeks, and Barr continues to improve during his young career.
Pass defense - Kyle Orton carved up the Vikings pass defense in Week 7. Although the Bills did not establish a vertical passing attack, Orton was brutally effective in the underneath game. He completed 31 of 43 attempts for two touchdowns and a single interception. The Vikings pass defense was really exposed on the Bills' final drive when they put Buffalo in a third down situation only twice and eventually gave up the game-winning score.
Teddy Bridgewater - Young Theodore had a rough game on Sunday. Bridgewater was 15-for-26 for 157 yards and turned the ball over twice with only one touchdown. He was also sacked five times and looked uncomfortable all game. Pro Football Focus slapped him with a -5.2 grade for the game.
Next week: At the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-5)