This NFL season has been far from predictable, and the NFC North is no exception.
Nine weeks of football are in the books and the playoffs are slowly entering the conversation. Thanks to their 7-1 record, the Minnesota Vikings are primed to not only win the division, but also nab a top seed in the conference. Beyond the Vikings, however, are various states of disarray. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears sit at 3-6, with both teams losing five of their last six games. The Detroit Lions, having taken their bye, sit just below the pair with a record of 2-6.
Although the Lions and Bears sitting below .500 is not unexpected, how they have achieved their standings is worth discussing. The Lions have alternated from an electric offense and pitiful defense to a quiet offense and resilient defense. The Bears, meanwhile, have scrapped together some great offensive performances in recent weeks, though it has not been enough to secure a victory. The Packers, on the other hand, started the season strong, but panic has quickly set in as the team has floundered in recent weeks.
With a lot of uncertainty heading into the back half of the season, how do the NFC North teams stack up against each other?
Today’s Question of the Day is:
How would you rank the NFC North teams?
My answer: From best to worst, the Vikings, Bears, Lions, and Packers.
The Vikings is the obvious answer for the top spot in the division, but I also feel as though they are much worse than their record indicates. While they sit second in the NFC behind the 8-0 Philadelphia Eagles, the drop off between the teams is steep. Whereas the Eagles are throttling teams on a weekly basis, the Vikings are squeaking by. In their victory over the Lions in Week 3, they were the worse team for 90 percent of the game. More recently, they beat the mediocre Washington Commanders on a late field goal. The Vikings are winning, but they aren’t doing so in dominant fashion.
The second place goes to the Bears, and it is purely because Justin Fields is coming into his own. The Bears are finally playing to his strengths, and while the passing yardage totals are lackluster, he is doing serious damage with his legs while vastly improving his decision-making. I still think the Bears have the worst roster in the division, but a great quarterback can carry a team, at least for a bit. We’ll see if Fields can continue his torrid pace of late.
Inversely, I think the Lions are decently talented outside of their quarterback. Sunday’s win over the Packers was an instance where the quarterback play hampered what was otherwise a great outing. The Lions have teetered between a horrific offense and good defense and horrific defense and good offense, so the consistency is certainly lacking. Yet when either unit plays well, it is encouraging—it shows that the pieces are there to compete, even if they aren’t clicking at the same time.
By all accounts, the Packers should have been the division leaders if our preseason predictions held up. Instead, Green Bay is on a massive slide it that is testing its fanbase, coaching, and management. Aaron Rodgers looks far removed from his MVP ways, a relatively stunning turn of events. Worse yet, the defense has taken a step backwards instead of forwards. The Packers are seriously underperforming on both sides of the ball, and frustration is clearly mounting. Whether that leads to a turnaround or self-destruction is still unclear.