Here's what happened in Week 4 in the rest of the NFC North:
The Bears thankfully didn’t have to experience another week of Jimmy Clausen, as Jay Cutler came back and got the Bears their first win this season.
Cutler’s return was probably the biggest reason they were able to get the win, as the upgrade from Clausen to him is huge. Cutler was at least serviceable compared to the disaster that is Clausen, finishing 28 of 43 for 281 yards. Alshon Jeffrey sat out with an injury, so considering Martellus Bennett and Marquess Wilson were the top targets, that isn’t too bad. The Bears running game didn’t help much, finishing with 98 yards on less than four yards a carry.
Cutler did have a major interception (again), leading to a Raiders’ field goal that gave them a one point lead, but was able to lead them down the field and set up a last second field goal that Robbie Gould converted.
While I thought the Raiders would win this game, this Bears’ win doesn’t exactly change much of the thinking around them. Oakland is better than they have been in previous years, but beating them at home still isn’t something to get too excited about. As long as Cutler stays healthy, they can at least stay competitive against the non-elite teams, but this defense is still bad enough that they will play them out of some games.
The Bears will play the Chiefs (1-3) next weekend in Kansas City. The Chiefs have lost three straight, including this week to Cincinnati, though their three losses come to teams with a combined record of 12-0. A home match-up with the Bears probably sounds pretty appetizing to them after that.
It wasn’t pretty, and that might be the nicest way to say it, but the Packers won in San Francisco to stay undefeated at 4-0 on the season.
The Packers scored on a 12-play opening drive that was finished with a Richard Rodgers touchdown catch. Their offense was unable to muster much of anything for a while, and didn’t score again until John Kuhn capped off the opening drive of the second half with a short run. They added a field goal on their next possession on a drive that started near midfield, but that was it for the scoring in this one.
The 49ers had given up over 40 points on the road in each of their previous two games, but buckled down against the Packers and slowed down the Aaron Rodgers monster. Rodgers finished with 224 yards and a touchdown, with James Jones as the leading receiver with five catches for 98 yards. After getting limited carries the week before due to injury, Lacy looked better this week with 90 yards on 18 carries. The Packers offensive line struggled for much of this game, especially in the second half.
Thankfully, the opposing quarterback was Colin Kaepernick who, behind a struggling offensive line, was a disaster. Kaepernick took six sacks and completed just over 50% of his passes for 160 yards. He had marginal success on the ground, but the Packers defense did what they should do against bad offenses and shut them down.
This was not a fun game to watch, but the Packers again were able to do enough to win and keep pace with the Falcons and Panthers as the remaining undefeated NFC teams. Any defensive issues the Packers may have were masked in this game by a horrendous 49ers offense and performance by Kaepernick that was almost sad to watch. The offensive line has looked bad enough in some recent games to give Packers’ fans some concerns going forward, but I don’t think a team that is 4-0 with a two game division lead is going to find many reasons to complain.
The Packers will host the Rams next week, which will certainly line up as another tough test for the Packers' offensive line. The Rams are coming off a nice win against the Cardinals and Todd Gurley looked good in his first game getting the majority of the carries. The Packers were actually last in the league in rush defense by Football Outsiders DVOA through three weeks. As dominant as the Packers are at home, the things that the Rams do well could give the Packers trouble. On second thought, that sentence will probably look stupid in a week.
The Vikings were able to stay close in a tough road game in Denver, but another great performance by the Broncos defense kept them from a victory.
After falling behind 13-3, Anthony Barr intercepted Peyton Manning with less than a minute left in the first half. Two catches by Mike Wallace put them in the end zone to make it a one score game. The Broncos responded with an eight play, 80-yard touchdown drive to start the second half, and after two punts by each team, Adrian Peterson was able to make it a one score game again on a 48-yard touchdown run.
Another Peyton Manning interception led to a Vikings field goal to tie the game, but the Broncos were able to respond with a field goal of their own to take a three point lead. The Vikings comeback attempt was foiled when Teddy Bridgewater fumbled on a sack by T.J. Ward that was recovered by Denver.
Bridgewater had a busy day, throwing the ball 41 times for 269 yards and no interceptions, but was constantly harassed by a Bronco pass rush that finished with seven sacks. The Vikings defense gave up a 72-yard touchdown run to Ronnie Hillman, but besides that, did a pretty good job against the Broncos offense, including two key interceptions.
The Vikings lost their first road game this season behind a disastrous performance by their offensive line, and their second road game was about the same. The Vikings defense remained solid in this one, as they have been most of the season, but the offensive line is setting them back severely. I don't see a clear line of sight to how they improve, but Bridgewater will have a hard time staying healthy all season if he gets hit this much. Also, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Vikings try out some new kickers this week. Blair Walsh missed another field goal this week to go along with an extra point, and after a rough season last year, his wonderful rookie season is a distant memory.
The Vikings have a bye this week, and will host the Chiefs when they return on October 18th.