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NFC North Recap: Storylines, highlights, standings from Week 2

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Somehow, the Packers, Vikings and Bears all avoided defeat, which leaves the Lions alone and at the bottom of the North.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Chicago Bears Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A tie between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, 29-29

Green Bay

The big story surrounding this divisional matchup was the status of Aaron Rodgers, who suffered a knee injury in Week 1, but was still able to return from the locker room and pull off yet another miracle in Rodgers-like fashion.

Despite Rodgers missing every practice and being listed as “Questionable” for Sunday’s game, you knew damn well that there was no way he would miss this game. Let’s not kid ourselves.

Rodgers had a noticeable limp against the Vikings, but he didn’t let that stop him from a very respectable performance, completing 30 of his 42 attempts for 282 yards, a touchdown and zero interceptions. He even decided to test out that knee on a third-and-7 where he would tuck and run for exactly 7 yards and a first down.

I would only feel comfortable against the Packers if Brett Hundley were under center or Rodgers had both arms and both legs tied up. Even Tonya Harding wouldn’t be able to stop Aaron Rodgers from being Aaron Rodgers.

In other news, Clay Matthews was at the butt-end of a roughing the passer call that ultimately costed the Packers the game. Like the Lions, the Packers intercepted a pass, but had it taken away due to a poor call from the officials.

Love him or hate him, I don’t see any malice in this hit, and even the body weight rule doesn’t come into play here. Here’s what referee, Tony Corrente, had to say about the play:

Yikes. This call is even worse than the call on Diggs, sorry Lions fans, but we’re not the only team that gets bad calls.

I was also really impressed with the young corners that the Packers have out there in Josh Jackson and Jaire Alexander as well. If not for that roughing the passer call, Alexander would have had a pivotal interception that could have sealed the win, and he also scooped up the ball after a punt block from Geronimo Allison for a TD early in the game. Imagine a Packers team with an actual secondary. I don’t like it.

Next game: at Washington (1-1)

Minnesota

Oh boy, I know Minnesota isn’t really high on the list of divisional rivals that most of us hate the most, but I still have to admit that I’m always going to get the sense of schadenfreude watching their kicking struggles. Of course, Carlson has now since been released after that awful performance against the Packers. Poor Daniel Carlson; no one deserves this.

Zimmer, you’re an absolute savage.

Unlike Carlson, Kirk Cousins did not shit the bed. His 425 passing yards was second in the NFL during Week 2 and was tied-for-second with four touchdowns (Patty Mahomes, baby). Cousins might be a better talent than Case Keenum, but it’ll still be hard for him to match Keenum’s efficiency with the Vikings last year. Cousins is certainly on the right track, and his two stud receivers (Diggs and Thielen) are only making things easier for him.

Dalvin Cook continues to struggle behind a mediocre-at-best Vikings O-line and now has 26 rushes for 78 yards and 3.0 yards per carry this year, but I’d still be worried to see what he can do to the Lions (sigh).

On the defensive side of the ball, Zimmer’s defense is as scary as ever.

Next game: vs. Bills (0-2)

The Chicago Bears beat the Seahawks on Monday Night Football, 24-17

This was an ugly one on both sides for each offense, but it was the Bears’ defense that came out on top and dominated, with Khalil Mack taking over in big moments once again (thanks, Gruden).

Prince Amukamara also had himself a game, allowing only 36 yards on seven throws in his direction and sealed things off with a pick-six midway through the fourth quarter.

The Bears’ offense kicked things off with a 10-play, 96 yard touchdown drive and never looked back, as they would hold the lead for the rest of the game. Despite Russell Wilson’s best efforts, his two late turnovers put the game on ice, and his tendency of holding onto the ball for too long led to six Bears sacks.

Mitchell Trubisky continues to struggle for the Bears, lacking awareness and accuracy in big moments, and you have to think that once Chicago finally finds their franchise QB, this team is going to be scary to deal with.

The rest of the offense is pretty talented, however. Jordan Howard struggled against Seattle’s defense—as did the rest of the rushing offense—with only 35 yards on 14 carries, but Allen Robinson, their biggest free agency addition, has looked great through two games, notching 10 receptions for 83 yards against the Seahawks.

Next game: at Cardinals (0-2)

NFC North Week 2 standings

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

If I’m not mistaken, the Packers and Vikings tiebreaker, through two weeks, would come down to the fourth tie-breaker, which is Strength of Victory, where the Packers currently have the edge.

It’s early, but if the Lions lose to the Patriots on Sunday Night Football next week, it’s already going to be a tough, uphill climb for them, as I could easily see each division rival adding another one to the win column. I know, “Any Given Sunday” and all that, but the Bills should be a gimme for the Vikings, and the Cardinals haven’t proven to be much of a threat either. I think Washington is a sneaky good team, but I’m not going to bet against the Packers any time soon.

I don’t believe in must-win games this early in the season, but a win at home to finally get the Lions on the board would be huge, especially against a powerhouse like the Patriots, who are coming off of an uncharacteristically bad blowout loss at the hands of the Jaguars.