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Around the NFC North: Week 3

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Three weeks in, and a clear line looks to be drawn between the top two and bottom two teams in the NFC North.

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Let's take a look at what happened in the rest of the NFC North in week three.

Vikings take down Chargers, 31-14

The Vikings have helped restore some of the offseason love they had lost after a dismal Week 1 performance, winning their last two games, including Sunday against the Chargers.

Despite getting outgained in terms of total yardage, the Vikings took advantage of a nice game from Adrian Peterson as he rushed for over six yards a carry for a total of 126 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings’ passing game was mostly ineffective in this game, with just 121 yards and completing just two of seven on passes of ten yards or more according to PFF.

The defense was able to contain the eighth-ranked offense by DVOA in this young season, sacking Phillip Rivers four times while forcing two turnovers, including an interception that Chad Greenway returned for a touchdown. The Chargers had to deal with injuries to the offensive line during the game, which the Vikings took advantage of to continually harass Rivers.

Notable performance

Trae Waynes: The Michigan St. alum saw his first action in the secondary this season after Xavier Rhodes left with a concussion, and by all accounts played well. The first round pick had a tough preseason but received a +2.3 grade from PFF, allowing just four catches on nine targets and 32 yards and a near interception.

Takeaway

With the way the two teams have gone since that first week, that Week 1 game between the Vikings and 49ers may go down as one of the strangest of the season. The Vikings were far from perfect against San Diego, but the fact that Peterson looked more like his old self running the ball had to be a nice sight for Vikings’ fans. They still need more in the passing game and can’t expect to win games where they are so significantly outgained, but these last two wins have helped restore some of the luster they had lost.

Up next: Before their bye week, the Vikings will travel to the undefeated Denver Broncos, which will match Peterson against one of the top rush defenses in the league.

Bears fall to Seahawks, 26-0

The Lions don’t find themselves alone at the bottom of the NFC North, with the Bears joining them at 0-3 after a second straight lopsided defeat. The Bears now have the worst point differential in the league at -59.

Pretty much no positives can be taken from this loss, with the Bears managing just 146 yards of total offense, including a pathetic 63 yards through the air as Jimmy Clausen replaced the injured Jay Cutler. Special teams were a nightmare for the second straight week as well, with Tyler Lockett returning a kickoff for a touchdown and Richard Sherman adding a 64 yard punt return.

Defensively, the Bears gave up just one touchdown on a 30 yard catch by Jimmy Graham, and Steven Hauschka added four field goals. Pernell McPhee had two sacks and a +4.2 grade from PFF, his second straight high mark. They only gave up six points in the first half that actually got Seahawks’ fans booing, but Lockett’s return got them going. Of course, as it turned out, they didn't need any more points. Marshawn Lynch left the game with an injury, but Central Michigan rookie Thomas Rawls was able to find success against a poor run defense with 16 carries for 104 yards.

Takeaway

The schedule only gets easier from here, but the Bears with Clausen are the worst team in the league. Cutler returning would help to at least make them look more respectable, but this team doesn’t really have anything going for it worth discussing.  The Lions get them in Week 6, which is getting scarily close to being a matchup of 0-5 teams.

Up next: The Bears will host the surprising 2-1 Raiders after a brutal three game stretch, but if Clausen starts, there isn’t a team in the league they should be favored against.

Packers stay perfect against Chiefs, 38-28

The Packers stayed undefeated this season as they beat the Chiefs at home on Monday night with relative ease. The Packers have a one game lead on the Vikings for the division lead, and are among four remaining NFC teams at 3-0, joining the Cardinals, Falcons, and Panthers.

The Packers did most of their damage through the air, as Aaron Rodgers threw for 333 yards and five touchdowns. The majority of his targets went to Randall Cobb and James Jones, who combined for four touchdowns and 230 receiving yards against a thin Chiefs secondary. Though they did run the ball a fair amount in this game, they averaged just 3.8 yards a carry on 32 attempts. James Starks got the most carries in this one as Eddie Lacy works his way back from injury.

Defensively, the Packers started off very strong, blitzing a weak Chiefs’ offensive line and finished the game with an impressive seven sacks. They were able to force punts on four of the first five possessions. The Chiefs were able to rattle off three straight touchdowns in the second half, but they came when they were down 31-7 and the game was practically over. Being down so much, Jamaal Charles only got 11 carries on the day but did finish with three touchdowns.

Takeaway

The Packers may not look as spectacular as they have in some years, but they are still winning games like they always do. Aaron Rodgers leads the league in QBR as well as traditional quarterback rating, and has successfully relied on Randall Cobb and James Jones in the absence of Jordy Nelson. The defense is inconsistent, but has moments where it has looked decent, which may be enough for Rodgers. I still don’t think I would pick against them at Lambeau Field. With an easy game next week (see below) and home games against the Rams and Chargers to follow, there is a good chance this team can get to 6-0 as they enter their bye week.

Up next: The Packers travel for their second road game of the season, though it is another easy one in San Francisco. The 49ers have lost their last two games by a combined score of 91-25 and don’t look to be much of a threat to a 4-0 start by the Packers.