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Thursday open thread: Where do the Lions rank in the NFC North?

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After two weeks, where does Detroit stack up?

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

We always knew the NFC North would be a close battle throughout the season, but after two weeks, the waters seem even muddier.

The Green Bay Packers currently lead the division after some impressive defensive performances against the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings. Two early division victories puts the Packers in a comfortable position early on. Though the Aaron Rodgers-led offense is not what it once was, they still boast one of the league’s best receivers in Davante Adams, as well as a promising young back in Aaron Jones. The biggest surprise has been their defense, allowing a mere 19 points through two games.

However, neither the Bears nor Vikings are looking very effective on offense so far.

The Bears continue to boast an excellent defense, as expected. Though they might not reach the sky-high stats of their 2018 counterpart, there are still plenty of reasons to fear that unit. However, the offense is perhaps one of the most ineffective in the entire league. Mitchell Trubisky continues to make rookie mistakes, and the coaching staff does not trust the young quarterback’s arm—for good reason. Meanwhile, rookie running back David Montgomery has yet to establish himself as a consistent threat. If it were not for some extremely generous calls from referees, the Bears would be sitting at 0-2.

The Vikings at least have one facet of their offense working, and that’s Dalvin Cook. Cook currently leads the league in rushing yards, and he has looked excellent while doing so. Someone who has not looked excellent is Kirk Cousins, who put up a pitiful performance against Green Bay. Even in their victory over the Atlanta Falcons, Cousins threw the ball a mere 10 times. Much like the rest of the NFC North, their defense is stout, but they will need their quarterback to step up his game.

Amidst all of this are the Detroit Lions sitting at 1-0-1. Technically undefeated, they upset the battered and bruised Los Angeles Chargers last week. It was not a pretty performance by any means, with the Chargers putting up over 400 yards on offense. It is essentially through sheer luck that the Lions held the Chargers to 10 points.

Elsewhere on offense, Matthew Stafford threw two critical interceptions, one an errant throw and the other ill-advised. It did pay off in the end with a game-winning pass to Kenny Golladay, but the offense still has question marks. The pass blocking was surprisingly effective, though it remains to be seen if this was a byproduct of utilizing tight ends more. The rushing attack has not been effective so far this season, and veteran C.J. Anderson got the boot as a result. Kerryon Johnson and rookie Ty Johnson will lead the backfield, and they certainly need a spark.

Today’s Question of the Day is:

Where do the Lions rank in the NFC North?

My answer: I think the Lions rank third in the NFC North.

The Packers are the clear front-runners so far. Even without a dominant offensive performance, they have the tools on offense and defense to make a run. Their defense has been extremely impressive after an offseason of rebuilding, and they look like one of the league’s best so far.

This might come as a surprise to some, but I still have the Vikings ranked second in the division. Cousins’ play so far has been a huge concern, but I am still confident that he can rebound. Even then, Cook is running like one of the best backs in the league—they will not shy away from feeding him the ball. Their defense has been great for many seasons now, and it will always make them a threat in the division.

The Bears still have an elite defensive unit, but their offense is a total gong show right now. The saying goes that defense wins championships, but the Bears are a team struggling to score points, amassing just 19 points through two games. That is not a recipe for success. They are extremely lucky to have even won last week.

The Lions are sitting at second in the NFC North by record, but play-wise, the third spot seems reasonable. Their defense has yet to break, but there are plenty of concerns to be had after a Kyler Murray comeback and being gashed by the Chargers’ offense. I think their defense has been the worst in the division, but it has been saved by their offense.

Darrell Bevell is impressing me with his play calling, often not afraid to dial up the long ball. That was my biggest complaint with Jim Bob Cooter: they were too safe. Once their run game gets going, I think they will have a really effective and well-balanced offense.

In conclusion, my ranking from best to worst in the division:

Offense: Packers, Lions, Vikings, Bears

Defense: Packers, Bears, Vikings, Lions

Overall: Packers, Vikings, Lions, Bears

Your turn.

Poll

Where do the Lions rank in the NFC North?

This poll is closed

  • 16%
    First
    (152 votes)
  • 53%
    Second
    (484 votes)
  • 17%
    Third
    (162 votes)
  • 11%
    Fourth
    (103 votes)
901 votes total Vote Now