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Around the NFC North: Vikings pulling away as Lions hit bottom

The Bears and Lions look like they should be planning for 2017.

New York Giants v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

We’re only four weeks into the 2016 season, but the NFC North picture is already becoming clear. The Minnesota Vikings are clearly the king of the division right now, while the Bears and Lions would have to pull off a miracle to even be in contention for the division come December.

Minnesota Vikings (4-0) - Beat Giants, 24-10

The Minnesota Vikings look to be among the NFL elite through four weeks. They are one of the three remaining undefeated teams and they have won three of their four games by more than one possession.

The Vikings defense could very well be the best in the league right now. They’ve held all four of their opponents below 17 points. They are allowing the second-fewest points per game (12.5), second-fewest yards per play (4.3) and have forced a league-high 11 turnovers.

Against the Giants, the Vikings were able to to not only shut down Odell Beckham Jr., but the defense held Eli Manning to just 5.8 yards per attempt.

Offensively, the Vikings are playing safe football. They have only committed one turnover all season and Sam Bradford is doing more than enough to keep the team ahead. Still searching for a replacement for Adrian Peterson, the Vikings may have found an answer in Jerick McKinnon, who ran for 85 yards and a touchdown on just 18 carries against the Giants.

Next week: vs. Texans (3-1) - 1 p.m. ET

Green Bay Packers (3-1) - Bye

After their win over the Lions in Week 3, the Packers, along with the Eagles, got to take Week 4 off to get healthy. Though the bye seems criminally early for the Packers, they actually benefitted quite a bit from the week of rest. Returning to practice on Monday, Green Bay got the services of Morgan Burnett, Clay Matthews and Letroy Guion back. They are nearing full health entering Week 5 against the Giants, who are on a short week after playing on Monday night.

Next week: vs. Giants (2-2) - 5:30 p.m. ET (Sunday Night Football)

Chicago Bears (1-3) - Beat Lions, 17-14

The Bears got off the schneid against the Lions on Sunday, and much of their success has to do with Brian Hoyer. It seems hard to believe, but there’s actually a quarterback controversy starting to brew in Chicago.

On Monday, head coach Jon Fox hinted at Hoyer keeping the job even after Jay Cutler is healthy. "Anybody's that performing well, I don't think we're going to be likely to change,” Fox said in Monday’s press conference. In two starts and an additional quarter of play, Hoyer has 697 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 103.3. We’ll see if that success continues against the struggling Colts next week.

Next week: at Colts (1-3) - 1 p.m. ET

NFC North standings:

1. Minnesota Vikings - 4-0
2. Green Bay Packers - 2-1
t-3. Chicago Bears - 1-3
t-3. Detroit Lions - 1-3

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