NFC North standings
Detroit Lions: 3-2
Green Bay Packers: 3-2
Minnesota Vikings: 2-3
Chicago Bears: 2-3
Green Bay Packers
Last week: 42-10 win at home against the Minnesota Vikings
This game was a good old fashioned no-doubter. The Packers jumped on the Vikings immediately, and only 10 garbage-time points allowed the Vikings to avoid getting skunked. The Vikings gave up big play after big play, making things too easy for the Pack. In the first half, the Packers did not have a drive longer than four plays but put up 28 points. For their part, the Vikings started the game with five consecutive punts before switching things up with three turnovers to end the half. The second half afforded no relief, as the Pack continued to pour on the points and the Vikings offense looked completely inept. In all, this one was a laugher.
Eddie Lacy - Lacy has had a rough year thus far. Until last Thursday, he had yet to average more than 3.3 yards per attempt in any game this season. However, it seems that the Vikings are good for what ails you as a running back. Lacy was absolutely bruising as he hit the huge holes his offensive line created for him to punish would-be tacklers.
Corey Linsley - The Packers running game and pass protection were so good against the Vikings that someone on the offensive line deserved a highlight. The rookie center Linsley is as good a candidate as any. Pro Football Focus gave him a +3.6 grade for the game for dominating the inside of the Vikings defense. Although the Packers did give up two sacks, they kept their quarterbacks fairly clean and, as mentioned, opened up mammoth running lanes.
Matt Flynn - Flynn looked a lot more like the player who got beat out for a starting job by Terrelle Pryor than the player who played pinball on the scoreboard against the Lions in 2011. He was brought in for mop-up duty in the second half and was pretty much the only dark spot for the Packers on the day. On his five attempts, he connected on only three for 22 yards and threw an interception. The Packers better keep Rodgers healthy.
Julius Peppers' Lambeau Leap - Peppers made a great play to pick off Christian Ponder and then showed surprising athleticism by returning it for a touchdown. However, he was then talked into doing his first-ever Lambeau Leap, which he executed like a player who spent several years in Chicago.
Next week: At the Miami Dolphins (2-2)
Last week: 42-10 loss at the Green Bay Packers
See above for a recap of the Vikings' Week 5 loss to the Packers.
Harrison Smith - As a Lions fan, Smith is the kind of player I want to hate, but have to respect. The hard-hitting safety is a ball magnet and has a ridiculously high motor, as he seems to be everywhere at once. Obviously, the Vikings defense got worked on Thursday, but Smith sort of did his part with six tackles, a pass defense and an interception. Hey, something had to be positive.
Everything - Seriously, this was a train wreck. Their running game was average, but starter Matt Asiata fumbled the ball on his only big run of the day. The passing game was horrible, with Christian Ponder connecting on only 22 of his 44 attempts and throwing two very poor interceptions. The defense not only gave up a ton of points, but it allowed the Packers to make it look easy as they moved the ball in huge chunks. It was bad.
Next week: At home against the Detroit Lions (3-2)
Last week: 31-24 loss at the Carolina Panthers
Lions fans can rest in the comfort that Bears fans are (almost) as frustrated with their team's Week 5 loss as they are. Each side's frustration is understandable. The Bears built a comfortable 21-7 first-half lead against the Panthers before their offense imploded with botched plays and turnovers.
The Panthers struck first in this game with a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown by Philly Brown, which gave them a 7-0 lead. The Bears responded with an extended drive that they could not finish after Jay Cutler threw his first interception of the day. However, as so often happens for Chicago, the Bears defense got things started for their offense by forcing back-to-back fumbles that gave the offense short fields. The Bears responded well and reeled off 21 unanswered points. After the Bears forced another turnover, this time a Cam Newton interception, it looked like the game might turn into a rout. However, the Bears could not capitalize on the turnover, this time after kicker Robbie Gould missed a rare field goal.
From that point, the game was all Carolina. After the missed field goal, the Panthers drove the field for a touchdown and entered the half down only 21-14. In the second half, the Bears could only manage a single field goal to go with three punts and three turnovers. The Bears defense did a decent job limiting the Panthers in the second half, but the offense's turnovers gave Carolina fantastic field position, which was enough to allow the Panthers to complete their comeback.
Matt Forte - Forte is starting to look more like his old self each week. He touched the ball 29 times on Sunday, with 17 carries and a career-high 12 receptions for a total of 166 yards from scrimmage. Although he did not find many holes in the running game, he was facing the stout Panthers run defense and turned in a decent day. He thrived in the passing game and racked up over 100 yards after the catch when he caught the ball in space.
Defensive production - The Bears defense did their part by forcing three Panthers turnovers. This opportunistic defense put the ball in the offense's hands and allowed the Bears to control the ball for nearly 33 minutes while limiting the Panthers to only 5 yards per play. Unfortunately for them, the Bears offense could not capitalize and suffered from four of their own turnovers, as well as a missed field goal.
The long ball - Against the Panthers, when attempting passes that went more than 15 yards in the air, Jay Cutler completed more throws to Carolina defenders (two) than to his own receivers (one). This was not a fluke, either. According to ESPN's stats, Cutler ranks 31st out of 33 qualified quarterbacks when attempting long throws, with a completion percentage of just 24 percent. He has managed to put up stats based primarily on short underneath routes and screens to Forte. In fact, all of Forte's 12 receptions were caught within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage, and Cutler benefited from over 100 yards after the catch. For a guy with a supposed "cannon," he has been unable to stretch the field.
Fourth-quarter play - After entering the fourth quarter with a narrow 3-point lead, the Bears punted on their first two possessions -- gaining a total of 9 yards -- and then turned the ball over three consecutive times. It is tough to win games with fourth quarters like that.
Next week: At the Atlanta Falcons (2-3)