With the season coming to a close, let’s take one final look at the NFC North division to see how things shaped up.
Vikings make a late charge over the Bears, dominate the second half, 31-17
The big news surrounding this game wasn’t so much the game itself, but the moves on Black Monday that were expected to come. Both teams decided to clean house as Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer, and Bears GM Ryan Pace, and head coach Matt Nagy were all fired Monday morning.
This doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering both teams have been on a downward trajectory for at least a couple of years now, and change was inevitable. But let’s focus on the game, since that’s what we’re here to do.
Neither team really had much to play for, and the Vikings came right out of the gates looking as stale as ever, ending their first four drives with four punts. They got on the scoreboard at the end of the half with a late field goal, but trailed 14-3 heading into the locker room.
It was all Minnesota in the second half, however, as they would go on to outscore the Bears 28-3 thanks to some costly errors from the Bears and Kirk Cousins heating up in the third quarter.
Cousins’ stats this year might look solid to the naked eye, but he’s still running into the same issues he has been throughout his entire career—Sunday’s game being no different—where he tends to disappear for an entire quarter or longer, causing them to try and climb their way out of a hole.
The Vikings finish the year at 8-9 which marks their second season in a row finishing with a losing record. With guys like Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and others, the Vikings still have some stars to build around as they are set to begin their GM/head coach search.
The Bears looked to extend their winning streak to three games on Sunday and also a share of second place in the division but fell short. Andy Dalton got the start again while Justin Fields remained on the reserve/COVID-19 list. It wasn’t a pretty day for Dalton as he was forced to throw the ball 48 times, with two of them being intercepted by the Vikings.
Darrell Mooney saw the bulk of those targets (16) and led the team with 12 receptions for 126 receiving yards on the day.
Chicago’s only score came on a touchdown pass from Dalton to Damien Williams late in the first half which gave them a 14-3 lead.
Like the Vikings, the Bears are looking to start their GM/head coaching search soon and they’re hoping that they have enough building blocks in place to avoid a full rebuild.
Packers lose 37-30 to Lions despite playing starters
Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams made it very clear that they wanted to play in their final regular season game against the Lions to say fresh. It didn’t seem to matter, though, as the Lions held a 17-13 lead heading into the locker room and narrowly escaped with their third win once the stars were benched in the second half.
The Packers simply were not ready for Detroit’s shenanigans, as they gave up a couple of touchdowns via trickeration. Even the fake punt attempt that failed was nearly executed to perfection.
Green Bay almost stole the game away from Detroit, but Jordan Love’s two turnovers on their final two drives ruined their chances.
Love finished the day with 134 passing yards on 17 attempts, one touchdown and two interceptions in one half of play. He’s obviously still developing as a player, but if the Packers decide to move on from Rodgers this year, then I’m sure the rest of the NFC North is feeling good about his current replacement.
Despite the loss, the Packers still have the No. 1 seed in the NFC and a bye heading into the playoffs. This is also their third divisional title in a row.
2021/2022 Final NFC North Standings
1. Green Bay Packers (13-4)
2. Minnesota Vikings (8-9)
3. Chicago Bears (6-11)
4. Detroit Lions (3-13-1)