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NFC North Week 2 recap: Packers, Bears atop the division

Recapping Week 2 of NFC North action.

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

Bears win a close one in home opener over Bengals, 20-17

The big news here is rookie quarterback Justin Fields seeing extended action after Andy Dalton suffered a knee injury in the second quarter. Dalton was having an efficient performance prior to the injury and gave the Bears an early lead, but it was their defense that carried the weight for them on Sunday. The Bears picked off Joe Burrow a total of three times including one for a touchdown courtesy of Roquan Smith to give them a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter.

Box score scouts will look at Fields’ numbers and assume he had a terrible day at the office, but while there were certainly some rookie mistakes, Bears fans have a reason to be encouraged by his performance.

Fields also had a 10-yard scramble on third-and-9 for a first down that ultimately sealed the game for them.

It wasn’t a perfect or even a great performance for the rookie, but he got the win, and if I were Matt Nagy, I’d hand the keys over to Fields immediately and see what he’s got. Injury may for Chicago’s hand there, but they are still insisting that Dalton is the starter when healthy.

Next game: @ Browns (1-1)

Vikings lose on the leg of their kicker against Cardinals, 34-33

Vikings kickers, man...

The NFL has produced some exciting matchups through two weeks, including this barn burner of a game. It was about as back and forth of a battle as you can get and provided us viewers with everything you could ask for.

After nailing a 52-yard field goal earlier in the quarter to give the Vikings a 33-31 lead, this 37-yard attempt felt like a gimmie for Greg Joseph. But never underestimate the voodoo that surrounds Vikings kickers. You just had a feeling that this was going to happen to them again.

The Vikings’ offense looked much better in this game. Kirk Cousins was clean and efficient throwing for three touchdowns and zero interceptions. Dalvin Cook also had a tremendous performance with 131 rushing yards on 22 attempts. The bad news, however, is that Cook took a beating and had to leave the game on two separate occasions after suffering an ankle injury and re-injuring it later in the game.

Things aren’t going to get any easier for Minnesota after playing two close games on the road as they host the Seahawks and the Browns in their next two games.

Next game: vs Seahawks (1-1)

Packers win in a tale of two halves over Lions, 35-17

Things were looking great for the Lions until they weren’t. As one might have expected, Aaron Rodgers bounced back nicely following one of his worst performances ever last week, but the Lions’ offense matched his firepower and took a 17-14 lead into halftime.

Rodgers kept up his dominance by being patient and taking what the Lions were giving him, constantly dumping the ball off underneath and into the flats. When the Lions’ defense tried to get aggressive, that’s when Rodgers would attack downfield, and due to the youth and inexperience of the Lions’ secondary—not to mention how thin they were at the position going into this matchup—it was easy pickings for Davante Adams.

Aaron Jones was the biggest benefactor of Rodgers’ plan of attack on offense and totaled four touchdowns (one rushing, three receiving) on the night. If you had him in fantasy, then you can thank the Lions’ linebackers.

Green Bay’s defense still looks very suspect after two weeks and if not for some poor decision-making from Jared Goff, this one would have been a lot closer. But you can’t put too much blame on him when the defense is as bad as it is.

Next game: @ 49ers (2-0)

NFC North Standings after Week 2

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

The division is obviously still completely up for grabs and on paper, no team really stands head and shoulders above the rest. If the Packers can do to other teams what they did to the Lions, then my bet is on them to take the division, but they won’t have the luxury of picking apart defenses like Detroit’s every week.

I still think the Vikings are more of a threat than the Bears despite what the records show, and the Lions, to me, look like they’ll be sticking to the bottom this year unless they can improve defensively.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.