NFC North standings
Detroit Lions: 11-4
Green Bay Packers: 11-4
Minnesota Vikings: 6-9
Chicago Bears: 5-10
Green Bay Packers
Last week: 20-3 win at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Packers survived an early scare in Tampa Bay to glide to an easy win and keep pace with the Lions at the top of the NFC North. Although Aaron Rodgers was once again not his normal Hall of Fame self with the flu and a strained calf, running back Eddie Lacy and the Packers' defense ensured a win for Green Bay. The Packers' defense in particular was fantastic, holding the hapless Buccaneers to 109 total yards and quarterback Josh McCown to a 2.5 QBR rating. After last week's upset in Buffalo, the Pack took care of business this week.
Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews - These veteran linebackers led a Packers pass rush that made McCown's day miserable. They combined for 4.5 sacks while the rest of the Packers chipped in with an additional 2.5. That is a big reason McCown went only 12-for-26 for 147 yards and a pick.
Eddie Lacy - Although the Packers offense eventually found its footing and Rodgers ended the game with over 300 yards, Lacy really got the party started with a bruising 44-yard run in the first quarter.
Corey Linsley - I'll lean on Pro Football Focus here. Linsley's -4.0 grade for the game is fairly noteworthy, mainly because the rookie center has been so good all season. He better rebound quickly with Ndamukong Suh and company coming to town next week.
Next week: At home against the Detroit Lions (11-4) for the NFC North crown
Last week: 37-35 loss at the Miami Dolphins
The Vikings continue to impress me despite being on the wrong end of this back-and-forth game against the Dolphins. The Vikings led for most of the game and entered halftime up 17-7 thanks to a very nice touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater to Greg Jennings and Matt Asiata's first touchdown plunge of the game. The Dolphins pulled the gap to 17-14 in the third quarter before the game broke open in the fourth. The two teams combined for 41 points in the final quarter, including two Vikings touchdowns in a 15-second span and the Dolphins' game-winning blocked punt for a safety.
Teddy Bridgewater - Bridgewater is growing every week and turning into a very efficient passer. Despite some shoddy pass protection, Teddy went 19-for-26 with 259 yards and a touchdown. The Vikings do not have a top-tier receiving threat, but Bridgewater spread the ball around to nine different receivers very effectively.
Special teams - This is not really fair because the Vikings special teams unit played really well all game up until the last play. However, when you lose the game on a blocked punt, you get the lowlights treatment.
Defense - A week after looking great against the Lions, the Vikings defense fell apart this week against both the run and pass. They gave up almost 500 yards on the game, including allowing Ryan Tannehill to pass for 396 yards and four touchdowns.
Next week: At home against the Chicago Bears (5-10)
Last week: 20-14 home loss to the Detroit Lions
You can find coverage of the Lions' win in Chicago here.
Next week: At the Minnesota Vikings (6-9)