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Week 1 NFC North recap: Vikings, Packers impress in debut

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The NFC North looked pretty impressive all around.

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The NFC North is just one of two division in the NFL that had three teams win on opening weekend. Sure the NFC East and AFC North each had two divisional matchups, making that an impossible feat for both. Point is, the NFC North looked pretty competitive over the weekend, and the only team that lost took the defending NFC champs to the edge of defeat.

Here’s a look at Week 1 around the NFC North.

Minnesota Vikings defeat New Orleans Saints, 29-19

  • I thought the Vikings had the most impressive performance of the entire division, controlling the Monday night game from nearly start to finish.
  • While Dalvin Cook’s statline looks pretty impressive (22 carries, 127 yards), the Vikings’ running game was largely ineffective all game. Cook’s stats were inflated by two fourth quarter runs (33 and 32 yards) that accounted for over half his yardage. In his other 20 carries, he only averaged 3.1 a carry.
  • Instead, it was surprisingly Sam Bradford who carried the Vikings offense. Bradford had a near perfect day, completing 84.4 percent of his passes for a whopping 10.8 yards per attempt and three touchdowns. Sure this is the Saints defense we’re talking about, but Bradford was dropping dimes like this one all game:
  • It should go without saying the Vikings defense is still very good. 60 total yards rushing allowed, and they were particularly tough to beat in the red zone. The Saints settled for four field goals in their first four trips inside the 20.

Next week: at Steelers (1-0)

Green Bay Packers defeat Seattle Seahawks, 17-9

  • This was a battle of really good defensive lines, really bad offensive lines or both. Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times, Russell Wilson was sacked thrice. Neither team could run the ball particularly well, either.
  • After the teams traded punts in the first half, Rodgers simply outdueled Wilson in the final two quarters. Rodgers clearly had the better protection, as Wilson was dealing with an offensive line that did stuff this:
  • But credit where credit is due: DL Mike Daniels and Nick Perry were absolute beasts for the Packers. According to PFF, the two combined for three sacks and six QB hurries.
  • I can’t help but wonder how different this game would have played out had the Seahawks’ pick-six not been taken away by a pair of penalties on the interception return.

Next week: at Falcons (1-0)—Sunday Night Football

Chicago Bears lose to Atlanta Falcons, 23-17

  • First thing that jumped out at me watching this game was just how good rookie running back Tarik Cohen was. He was extremely tough to take down and turned just 13 touches in 113 yards and a touchdown.
  • The next thing to jump out was Chicago’s formidable defense. Holding the Atlanta Falcons to 23 points is no joke. There are still some issues in the secondary but this front seven could be one of the better units in the league. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman ran for just 53 yards on 20 carries (2.65 YPC).
  • I don’t know how long the Bears are going to ride with Mike Glennon, but he didn’t look particularly good on Sunday. He did put together a couple good drive in the fourth quarter, but he was inaccurate for most of the game, and didn’t connect on many passes five yards beyond the line of scrimmage.
  • For the first time in a long time, the Bears finally have an identity. They’re a strong defensive team who is going to try to wear you out with their running game. That’s going to result in the Bears keeping it close for almost every game this season, and they could play spoiler early and often.
  • Unfortunately for Chicago, they suffered two significant injuries on Sunday. Former first-round pick, receiver Kevin White, broke his clavicle and was placed on IR. White has now appeared in just five games in three seasons due to injury.
  • Perhaps more damaging, the Bears also placed inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman on IR with a pectoral injury. Freeman led the Bears with 110 tackles last season. He could potentially return this season, but he’ll have to wait at least eight weeks to be activated to the 53-man roster.

Next week: at Buccaneers (0-0)

NFC North standings after Week 1

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