After a captivating 35-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, the Green Bay Packers moved to 4-1 and the top spot in the NFC North standings as they prepare for a divisional showdown with the Minnesota Vikings this weekend.
It was an enormous win for the Packers after Detroit fell earlier in the day to Carolina and Minnesota narrowly escaped the Chicago Bears in primetime during Mitch Trubisky’s first start. Trubisky generated an electric evening for Bears fans at Soldier Field on Monday night, but every other starting quarterback in the division has a buzz about them early this week as well, albeit for very different reasons.
News on those players and more analysis in today’s divisional rundown.
Detroit Lions (3-2)
Lost vs. Carolina, 27-24; Next at New Orleans
The O-line is allowing big hits on Matthew Stafford the past two weeks and it’s beginning to show.
The Lions’ franchise quarterback has started 101 consecutive games, but appeared to get attention on his upper right leg in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game. As of now, Stafford is still expected to start next week, but the sacks have been mounting in recent weeks.
A week after the seat began to heat up for Ebron due to his issues with drops, his seat has now become blazing hot. Another drop, this one in the end zone on third down, has fans infuriated. However, the positive coming out of Sunday’s game was the emergence of Darren Fells, who caught passes for four first downs and two touchdowns in the loss. The numbers in this article support the notion that Fells is the more dynamic option in Detroit’s offense.
The calling card for the Lions’ defense this season has been takeaways, but Detroit wasn’t able to force one against the turnover-prone Cam Newton on Sunday. Meanwhile, tight end Ed Dickson torched the Lions for 175 yards on five catches and pointed out a potential flaw for other teams to take advantage of in the near future.
Minnesota Vikings (3-2)
Won at Chicago, 20-17; Next at Green Bay
Minnesota sees a step-up performance from Jerick McKinnon in the backfield.
With Dalvin Cook out for the year with a torn ACL, McKinnon rushed for 95 yards and added an additional 51 yards in receptions. It was a big night for a player in the last year of his rookie contract as he continues to battle Latavius Murray for carries.
Coming off the bench for the first time in three games, Keenum led the Vikings to victory after Bradford was sacked four times and left the game with a re-aggravated knee injury. It was another strong performance for the journeyman quarterback, who was an efficient 17-21 for 140 yards and a touchdown drive to open the second half, and has been more than serviceable in his few starts for Minnesota.
Holding Chicago’s offense to just 274 yards and getting a big lift from Harrison Smith’s interception with just over two minutes to play, Minnesota’s defense made the plays when they needed them to pull out the win. Everson Griffen also made a splash play on the night, strip-sacking Trubisky deep in Chicago territory to set up a field goal before halftime.
Chicago Bears (1-4)
Lost vs. Minnesota, 20-17; Next at Baltimore
Making his first start, Trubisky threw what ended up being a disastrous interception late in ballgame. But overall, he provided Bears fans with a sense of optimism with his ability to roll out and fire the ball to receivers downfield. Trubisky even scored on a double-reverse, two-point conversion in what was a very composed evening for the young signal caller.
As if the two-point conversion wasn’t nifty enough, Chicago also broke out a perfectly executed fake punt for a touchdown. Both videos can be found in the link above.
In a thorough article from Brad Biggs, the Chicago Tribune breaks down a number of observations from the evening, including ways to judge Trubisky’s performance, a new receiver that stepped up, and yet another injury to the defensive front.