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Around the NFC North: Week 12

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The Vikings take back the division lead as the Packers continue their struggle. Here's what happened in week 12 of the NFC North.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Bears beat Packers, 17-13

The Packers lost their second straight division home game, as they fell to the Bears 17-13.

Neither offense was very impressive in this one, with the Packers passing game looking especially out of sync. Aaron Rodgers hasn’t been at his best this year, but his receivers aren’t doing anything to help him. Rodgers completed just over 50 percent of his passes for a pitiful 4.7 yards per attempt. Davante Adams had the most targets with 11, but only had two completions for 14 yards. Eddie Lacy had his second straight game with 100 yards rushing at 6.2 yards per run, and added 34 yards of receiving. Despite this recent improvement, Lacy did lose another fumble, his fourth fumble in five games.

The Bears offense wasn’t too impressive in their own right, with less than 300 total yards, but saving themselves by not turning the ball over. Jay Cutler completed 19 of 31 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown, with Alshon Jeffery leading the receivers with seven grabs for 90 yards in his return after missing the previous week to injury. The Bears stayed with the running game with 31 attempts, but struggled for the second straight week, finishing with just 101 yards, a 3.3 per carry average.

Takeaway

The Packers dropped their fourth game in five tries, a week after getting a huge division win at Minnesota. The offense looked extremely out of sync again and has scored 16 or less points in all their losses. When the Packers lost Jordy Nelson, the thought was it would hurt but they could make up for it like they usually would, but they are struggling to get any receiver to step up. James Jones has been good but inconsistent, and Davante Adams has had repeated issues in his route running and with drops. Lacy has finally started to provide value when he’s not fumbling the ball, but the passing offense needs to be in sync for them to become a complete offense.

The Packers have three games in a row against teams below .500 to try and get them back on track, though two of their last three games have been losses to teams below .500, so they might not want to get too excited.

Up next (Bears): The Bears host the 49ers as they look to get to .500 on the season.

Up next (Packers): The Packers will travel to Detroit on Thursday night as they look to right the ship and stay within striking distance for the division lead.

Vikings take care of Falcons, 20-10

The Vikings didn’t blow them out on the scoreboard, but won pretty comfortably Sunday against the free-falling Falcons.

As has happened in all their wins this season, the Vikings were carried by Adrian Peterson, who finished with 158 yards on the ground on 5.4 yards a carry. The Vikings got out to an early lead and let Peterson churn away at the clock and wear down the Atlanta defense as the game went on. Teddy Bridgewater wasn’t able to do much through the air, throwing for just 174 yards with one interception in the end zone.

Thankfully, it didn’t matter much in this one with the Vikings defense controlling the game, forcing three turnovers, including an interception in their end zone as well as a forced fumble by Anthony Barr at the end of a 46 yard run by Tevin Coleman. Julio Jones was kept in check with just five catches for 56 yards, and the only Falcons touchdown came with less than two minutes to go and the Vikings up 17.

Takeaway

A week after the Packers looked to have gained control in the NFC North, the Vikings took advantage of another Packers loss with a win against a reeling Falcons team. The winning formula has been pretty consistent this year for the Vikings, with Peterson doing the bulk of the damage on offense and the defense holding teams to less than 20 points, something they have done nine times this season.

With eight wins and three home games left on the schedule, the Vikings have set themselves up with an excellent chance to make the playoffs. They control the division for now, but even if it comes to wildcard, they may need only nine wins -- if not less -- to get that postseason spot.

Up next: The Vikings will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday.