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NFC North recap: Packers starting to separate from the group

The Packers have won three straight to lead the division.

Syndication: The Post-Crescent Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK

Bears win convincingly over Lions, 24-14

Let’s just get this one out of the way. We know what happened. It wasn’t pretty, and the Lions lost a game that most of this staff thought they were going to win. After a rough performance against the Cleveland Browns, Justin Fields played a great game against the Lions’ defense, who struggled to put any pressure on him for most of the game. Fields came up big when the Bears needed him the most, and the Lions had no answer for him.

On the opposite end, Jared Goff struggled when the Lions needed him most. The box score might not look all that terrible, but in key situations, Goff was overthrowing his receiver or fumbling the football over to the other team. That just can’t happen when the defense has shown that they cannot be relied on.

Aside from the turnovers and the red zone struggles, the Lions’ offense was actually doing quite well against the Bears' D and moving the ball downfield with ease. This is not the same defense that we’re accustomed to seeing, and I think teams with more of a red-zone presence should have a fairly easy time against Chicago without much resistance.

The Bears, at 2-2, have a really tough stretch of games ahead of them. They will need a miracle to stay at or above .500 before their bye in Week 10.

Next game: @ Raiders (3-1)

Vikings lose a defensive battle to the Browns, 14-7

You really have no idea what you’re going to get with the Vikings heading into any given week. Are they the team that hung tough with the 4-0 Cardinals and blew out the Seahawks at home? Or are they the team that showed up this past Sunday?

Honestly, it’s just been a tough slate of games to start the year for the Vikings. All of their losses have come to teams that are 3-1 or better. And the 2-2 Seahawks still look like a decent team playing in a brutal division.

The Vikings just completely fell apart in this contest, though, and after getting out to an early 7-0 lead, they obviously couldn’t manage to score a single point. The run game was thwarted, and Kirk Cousins had a less than ideal performance against the tough Browns defense.

Luckily for the Vikings, they have a much easier opponent to deal with next week... The Lions. We’ll see if the Lions can manage to put together a strong game plan as they did against Baltimore and continue the run of bad luck for Minnesota.

Next game: vs. Lions (0-4)

Packers win third straight over Steelers, 27-17

The Steelers came out hot in this one scoring a touchdown on their first possession five minutes into the game. Roethlisberger and Dionte Johnson connected on a 45-yard touchdown pass for Big Ben’s 400th career touchdown pass. It was a beauty of a pass too, that was mostly well defended by Jaire Alexander.

The celebrations didn’t last long, though, for Big Ben and the Steelers. Aside from the first drive, the Steelers’ offense looked pretty awful for the rest of the game. They totaled just 62 rushing yards on 15 attempts while Roethlisberger finished with a QB rating of 78.3 and two turnovers (one interception, one fumble).

Aaron Rodgers wasn’t particularly special in this one, so credit to the Packers’ defense for making the Steelers uncomfortable and forcing some huge turnovers.

Next game: @ Bengals (3-1)

NFC North Standings after Week 4

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

Despite being 1-3, I think the Vikings are the team that will have the best chance at competing with the Packers in the division. The Lions just don’t have the talent to have any chance at winning the North this year and that’s been apparent from the beginning. As mentioned before, the Bears have a tough stretch of games coming up, so if they can remain a game or two back from Green Bay halfway through the year, they could have a shot, especially with Justin Fields gaining confidence.

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