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NFC North Week 4 recap: Packers alone in first thanks to Aaron Rodgers

Can anyone stop the Packers?

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Green Bay Packers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings end winless streak against Texans, 31-23

After three losses in a row, the Vikings finally get one in the win column. It was a must win for both teams, and with the Texans falling to 0-4, it was time for heads to roll as Bill O’Brien—their head coach and general manager—was let go following the Week 4 loss.

The Vikings got off to an early lead in this contest on Dalvin Cook’s first of two rushing touchdowns on the day. The team never lost hold of the lead, though Houston kept it within one possession for most of the game. The defense came up with stops when they needed to, which is something that they struggled with in the past three games. Perhaps they just needed a few games to get settled in.

The passing offense also looked much better for the Vikings, coming into the game ranked 26th in DVOA. Things only seem to go well for Kirk Cousins and the passing attack when the run game is also looking good, however, and that’s exactly what happened on Sunday.

Oh, and then there’s this.

Next game: @ Seahawks (4-0)

Colts win soundly as Bears offense sputters, 19-11

After announcing Nick Foles as their starting quarterback for this game, the Chicago Bears predictably stunk it up on offense against the Colts, scoring just three points in the first 56 minutes of the game. This is really the first halfway decent team that the Bears ran into, and they’ve got the Bucs, Panthers, Rams, Saints and Titans coming up in their next five games. It’s going to go south fast for them.

The Bears were stopped in their tracks in the run game with only 28 yards on 16 rushing attempts. This made them have to rely on the arm of Foles, who completed just 62 percent of his passes with 5.9 yards per attempt. Is it already time to revert changes and give the job back to Money Mitch? Or do the Bears stick with Foles?

For Chicago fans, at least the Bears defense is still very good. Can’t relate.

Next game: vs. Bucs (3-1)

Packers defeat Falcons in blowout fashion, 30-16

It was another near perfect day for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. He turned in a 82 percent completion rate on 33 pass attempts for 327 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions. You have to think that after four games he’s got a pretty good chance at the NFL MVP award if he’s not already the favorite for it.

Robert Tonyan—the Packers third-year tight end—also had a big day catching three of Rodgers’ four TD passes. Tonyan now has five reception TDs on the season and is tied with Mike Evans for leading the league in this category.

On defense, the Packers did a really nice job of preventing Falcons QB Matt Ryan from throwing the ball deep. It seemed like every instance where he had time to look downfield he was forced to dump it off to his checkdown receiver because the Packers were clamping down in coverage. Za’Darius Smith also had a big day on defense with three sacks and leads the league with five sacks (tied with Myles Garrett).

Next game: BYE Week

NFC North Standings after Week 4

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

We talked last week about how the North might be a two-team race at this point, but the Packers look so much better than the rest of the teams in this division right now, I wouldn’t be surprised if they clinch it a few weeks early. The Bears are frauds, the Lions are in turmoil, and the Vikings are already three games in the hole to Green Bay, I don’t see them making a run for the division.

The Lions’ best shot at making the playoffs is that extra wild card spot, but at this point it feels silly to even suggest this possibility. It’s more likely that this is another wasted year and to expect heads to roll on the coaching staff and possibly the front office.