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NFC North recap: Packers suffer embarrassing loss, Vikings extend division lead

Shenanigans ensue in the NFC North.

Syndication: USA TODAY Mark Hoffman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Even though your beloved Detroit Lions didn’t have to play a game this week, the NFL season rolls on, so let’s take a closer look at the rest of the NFC North division.

Bears outlasted by Commanders in low-scoring bout, lose 12-7

Thursday Night Football has provided us with some pretty awful football, but the product has been weirdly intriguing, nonetheless. It’s like watching a movie being so bad that it’s good. Bears-Commanders was our latest TNF installment, and it might have been the worst football we’ve seen yet.

If it weren’t for Joey Slye’s 38-yard field goal to end the first half, I would have felt fairly confident that we were heading for a 0-0 tie.

The Commanders headed into halftime with a 3-0 lead, but the Bears came out swinging on their first drive of the second half, capping off a 94-yard drive with a touchdown on nine plays. Quarterback Justin Fields had a not-so-great day overall, but this 40-yard dime to Dante Pettis at least put the Bears in the lead for a little while and gave them a chance.

These were the only points that the Bears would score all game, and they would eventually give up the lead following a muffed punt catch from Velus Jones that gave the Commanders prime field position and a touchdown.

The Bears now sit at 2-4 on the season with the 28th-ranked offense and 18th-ranked defense by Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric. They are entering full tank mode with their new regime.

Next game: @ Patriots (3-3)

Packers get demolished at home vs. Jets, 27-10

We go from the Bears offense to the Packers, which was almost every bit as bad on Sunday. The Jets planted their flag in Green Bay’s backfield and were hounding Aaron Rodgers throughout the game, sacking him four times and accumulating 19 total pressures. When Rodgers did have a chance to throw the ball, the Jets’ secondary was just as suffocating, especially rookie corner Sauce Gardner, who had a hell of a game.

The Packers tried to keep things close after Rodgers connected with Allen Lazard on a 25-yard touchdown pass to bring the game within one score (17-10), but the Jets responded swiftly with their own touchdown score, as Bryce Hall left Packers defenders grasping for air on a 34-yard TD run.

If you look at the stat sheet, this game looks a lot closer than it was. The teams matched each other with 278 total yards, the time of possession was nearly the same, and the Packers had the only turnover of the game. The Jets simply were more opportunistic, especially on special teams. They had two blocked kicks (one punt and one field goal attempt) which either put them in great field position or gave them a quick scoop-and-score. That was ultimately what blew this game open for them. If the Packers can’t get that sorted out soon, then things could spiral downward for them fast. Luckily for them, they get to face a weak Commanders team next week that could barely put away the Bears.

Next game: @ Commanders (2-4)

Vikings beat the Dolphins and extend winning streak to 4 games, 24-16

When not on primetime television, the Vikings are pretty darn good. They have won every single game aside from their Monday Night Football loss to the Eagles and are sitting at 5-1, two full games above the Packers. The Dolphins were their next victim on Sunday, though they had a relatively tough time closing them out.

The Vikings held a 16-10 lead over the Dolphins and punted away on a drive in which they could have sunk the dagger in, but thanks to a nice forced fumble from Harrison Smith, they had another chance, and this time Dalvin Cook came in for the kill shot.

The Vikings were outgained severely in total yards during this game, but their ability to force turnovers—they had three compared to Miami’s zero—won them the game.

The difference between this team and previous Minnesota teams is simply that they are finding ways to win in close games. We’re normally used to them throwing these games away, but without Coach Zimmer, maybe this is a team to be reckoned with for years to come. Hopefully not.

Next game: vs. Cardinals (2-4)

Standings after Week 6

1. Minnesota Vikings (5-1)
2. Green Bay Packers (3-3)
3. Chicago Bears (2-4)
4. Detroit Lions (1-4)

The Vikings are in prime position to win the division, especially with the Packers looking as bad as they’ve been in at least a decade. The Packers may still provide a challenge, but they’ll need to figure something out soon, or else it might be too late, as the Vikings have a real shot at continuing their win streak over the next couple weeks with some easy opponents. As for the Lions and Bears... The odds aren’t looking good for them to turn it around and make any noise.

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