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Around the NFC North: Packers win 6th NFC North title in past 9 years

After a couple of years off, the Packers are back on top.

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s take one last look at the NFC North before the season is over. Week 16 ended up being the deciding week for the division as the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings clashed on “Monday Night Football” to conclude an exciting week of football. Here’s where all four teams stand after things shook out this week.

Green Bay Packers clinch the division in dominating fashion

Result: Beat Vikings 23-10

It was a fairly dominant performance from the Packers on Monday. As soon as the team stopped shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers, the Packers started to roll the Vikings in their own building.

Green Bay’s defensive effort was really on display, as they held the Vikings to 139 yards of total offense—or just a measly 2.6 yards per play. Minnesota’s only touchdown of the game came with a shortened field thanks to a rare Aaron Rodgers interception.

The Packers have now clinched the NFC North for the sixth time in the past nine years, but many still question whether they’re true contenders. Rodgers is still not playing up to his own standard, and the offense is still sputtering a little bit. That being said, this defense is playing really well right now and should keep them in games.

They’ll have the opportunity to earn themselves a first-round bye with a simple win over the Lions next week.

Vikings trending down... hard

Result: Lost to Packers, 10-23

Without Dalvin Cook, the Vikings offense looked completely inept against an underrated Packers defense. Minnesota’s defense was able to hold Aaron Rodgers and the Packers passing attack in check, but they allowed a concerning 184 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Where the Vikings truly failed on Monday was protecting Kirk Cousins. The Vikings quarterback was sacked five times and hurried a good dozen more.

Minnesota may already have locked up the six-seed in the playoffs, but they don’t really look like legitimate contenders. The best win on their resume is either over the Eagles or Cowboys. Their five losses include four to true contenders—Packers (x2), Chiefs, and Seahawks.

They’ll have to face either the 49ers, the Packers or the Saints in the first round of the playoffs, and none of those options seem particularly good for Minnesota.

How the Bears have fallen

Result: Lost to Chiefs 3-26

I think it’s fair to say that when “Sunday Night Football” scheduled Bears vs. Chiefs for Week 16, they were expecting a different Bears team. Chicago was completely overmatched on their own home field against a Chiefs team that will look to contend for a Super Bowl title. Granted, the Bears didn’t have anything to play for and the Chiefs do, but this game really highlights just how far off the Bears currently are.

The Matt Nagy revolution is not here, as the Bears either need a new quarterback or a new system (or both) on offense. Mitchell Trubisky completed 18-of-34 passes for just 157 yards and a QBR (not passer rating) of 5.4.

They’ll be looking to make some full-scale changes on offense in 2020, but their defense is still respectable.

The beat-up Lions just need this season to end

Result: Lost to Broncos, 17-27

The Lions jumped out to an early lead thanks, in part, to a punt return touchdown from Jamal Agnew. But the Lions defense couldn’t hold the lead, and third-string quarterback David Blough continues to run this offense in neutral.

Detroit has just suffered way too many injuries this year, and even when they were healthy, this defense was playing at a horrid level.

Head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn will stay with the team in 2020, but if they don’t produce immediate results, expect the Lions to blow things up all over again in 2021, producing yet another rebuild in Detroit.

The Lions can play spoiler for Green Bay and potentially knock them out of the top-two seeds, but no one is really expecting that to happen.

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