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NFC North recap: Chaos reigns in Week 3, division wide open

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Absolute chaos in the North.

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Minnesota Vikings Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota Vikings pummeled by Bills in stunner, 27-6

Wow.

No one saw this one coming at all, probably not even the Bills. Even after Buffalo scored for a third time to go up 17-0, the ESPN win probability chart only had Buffalo with a 52 percent chance to win the game. That’s nuts.

Minnesota was playing catch-up the entire game, which meant only six touches on the ground and 55 pass attempts for Kirk Cousins, who ended the game with a 10.0 QBR and just couldn’t get any rhythm going all game long. The only bright spot on offense was the connection between Cousins and Adam Thielen.

Thielen, who burst onto the scene last year as one of the top receivers in the NFL, was targeted 19 times against the Bills, hauling in 14 of them for 105 yards. He’s now second in the NFL in both receptions (32) and receiving yards (338) behind Saints receiver, Michael Thomas.

Defensively, the Vikings were torn apart by...

-checks notes-

Josh Allen.

Allen ended the day with a passer rating of 111.2 (89.4 QBR), one touchdown and 8.9 yards per attempt. And don’t forget this angelic play.

I honestly don’t know what to make of this game. Did the Vikings simply underestimate their opponent? Or are they maybe not as good as everyone expected them to be? Next week should be a good test for them as they head to St. Louis Los Angeles.

Next game: at Rams (3-0)

Green Bay falls short, loses to Washington, 31-17

Man, poor Clay Matthews. That’s two weeks in a row now where he’s at the butt-end of this new “body weight” rule. Gotta feel bad for that man.

Wait, what am I saying? Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha Packers.

But seriously, this rule is incredibly dumb, and I get that this play might be “by the book,” but if that’s the case then the book is wrong. Fix your product, NFL.

In other news, the Packers’ offense looked vulnerable, even with Rodgers, and their defense looked even worse. Washington was able to lean on their quarterback early, as Alex Smith got them out to an early 21-3 lead with two touchdown passes. Later on, the Green Bay defense would settle down and keep them in the game, but in the end, Washington was put the game away thanks to their veteran RB, Adrian Peterson, who had himself a game with 120 rushing yards on 19 carries (6.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns.

The Packers also took a huge blow to their defensive line after hearing news that Muhammad Wilkerson will miss the rest of the 2018 season due to an ankle injury.

Next game: vs. Bills (1-2)

Bears escape defeat, beat Cardinals, 16-14

Arizona got out to an early 14-0 lead, but that’s all the points they would score, as Chicago came back with 16 unanswered points and the win. A win is a win, but you won’t find many Bears fans happy with the performance from their offense. Mitchell Trubisky continues to be allergic to touchdown passes, and even the rushing offense was getting piled up on. I suppose that’s going to happen when there is no reason to fear Trubisky.

Chicago’s defense is a force to be reckoned with, though, and they came up huge with four turnovers on four straight defensive possessions. Arizona would have a chance at a hail mary on the final possession, but Vic Fangio knew he could get Josh Rosen to fold with some pressure and dialed up a blitz that would lead to a sack on the final play.

Next game: vs. Bucs (2-1)

NFC North Week 3 standings

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

Funny how things can change in a matter of one week. I’m sure most fans would have thought that the Packers and Vikings would still be at the top of the North, with the Lions losing to the Patriots, sitting 2.5 games back from them. Instead, if you ask each fanbase, you might hear Lions fans being the most confident in their team after dismantling a dynasty on “Sunday Night Football.”

The Bears might be in first, but their win over the Cardinals was anything but inspiring, as they continue to work through their struggles with Mitchell Trubisky and the rest of the offense. However, that defense is still legit, and the Bears aren’t going to be a gimme like they have been in the past.

Next week offers some very tough opponents for Detroit’s division rivals, so if the Lions are able to beat the Cowboys on Sunday, it’s very likely that they move up a spot or two in the standings.