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Week 3 around the NFC North: Are the Vikings the best team in the conference?

The NFC North is starting to take shape.

Minnesota Vikings v Carolina Panthers Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As the season rolls on, we begin to learn more about each team, and the NFC North begins to separate the contenders from the pretenders. We’re not quite at a position to definitively say who will win the division or who will come in last, but we learned quite a bit from each team in Week 3.

Minnesota Vikings (3-0) - Beat Panthers, 22-10

Every week, the Vikings gain more doubters. This week, the loss of Adrian Peterson left many analysts believing the Vikings were done. However, as Minnesota proved once again, it is the strength of their defense that will carry them in most games.

The Vikings went onto Carolina’s home turf and forced Cam Newton—the reigning NFL MVP—into three interceptions on the day, while sacking him an outstanding eight times.

There are still questions about the Minnesota offense. Sam Bradford and the rest of the Vikings offense only managed 211 yards of offense, but they didn’t need to do anything more than that to secure the win. They shut down one of the most dynamic offenses of 2015, and looked like they could do that to any team in the league.

The Vikings are one of five undefeated teams remaining and just one of two in the NFC. Two of their three wins came against 2015 playoff teams, one of which was on the road. Their offense may be adjusting to some new players, but this is a team that looks like it will contend for the NFC title this year.

Next week: vs. Giants (2-1) - Monday - 8:30 p.m. ET

Green Bay Packers (2-1) - Beat Lions, 34-27

We know what happened during the game. Aaron Rodgers rebounded from his slow start, but anyone who knows how the Detroit Lions defense is playing right now knows to take his performance with a grain of salt.

Still, it has to be promising to see Rodgers look like himself and Eddie Lacy punish defenders trying to take him down. Jordy Nelson must feel good about his first 100-yard game since Week 16 of 2014.

Defensively, the Packers were beat up and eventually torched by Matthew Stafford and the Lions offense. Green Bay was having defensive troubles before they were bit by the injury bug, but they probably don’t have to worry about their play as much as say... the Lions. To add to their good fortunes, they are on their bye this week, so they’ll have some time to get healthy.

Next week: Bye. (Week 5 vs. Giants)

Chicago Bears (0-3) - Loss to Cowboys, 17-31

It didn’t take the Bears long to fall behind in “Sunday Night Football.” Dallas took the opening drive 75 yards in 10 plays with little-to-no resistance. That would become the theme of the day, as the Cowboys didn’t punt until late in the third quarter. Dallas would finish the game with 447 yards of total offense.

For the Bears offense, there were some positives to take away from the game. Brian Hoyer, while not overly impressive in his first start as a Chicago Bear, did manage to avoid any major mistakes and threw two touchdowns in the second half.

This game somewhat resembled the Lions-Packers game. The Bears went into halftime down 24-3, but ended up hanging around long enough to make a comeback seem possible. However, the Bears offense just wasn’t dynamic enough to make any big plays down the stretch.

As a side note, running back Jeremy Langford was injured in the game with an ankle sprain. Adam Schefter is reporting that Langford will miss at 4-6 weeks with the injury, meaning he will not be available for next week’s matchup with the Lions. However, rookie Jordan Howard has been the better back for Chicago through three weeks anyways.

Next week: vs. Lions (1-2) - 1 p.m. ET

NFC North standings:

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

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