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NFC North Rundown, Week 8: Packers may benefit from a short-handed Lions defense

Detroit awaits news on several defenders before its clash with Green Bay, while Chicago and Minnesota head to the bye.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

After a much-needed break for healing and strategizing during the bye week, the Green Bay Packers get back to business this week against their divisional foe, Detroit. The Packers, 4-3, get set for the second half of the season in second place in the NFC North behind the streaking Minnesota Vikings, who have won four straight heading into their open date.

As the Vikings and Chicago Bears take their annual week off, the Lions may have to game plan for Green Bay on Monday night without the presence of several notable defensive players following last-second shenanigans in their loss last week.

Some news on that situation, as well as Detroit’s offensive woes against the Saints, in today’s divisional update.

Detroit Lions (3-4)

Lost vs. Pittsburgh 20-15; Next at Green Bay

The Lions may be without key defensive players versus the Packers.

After two Detroit defensive linemen fired off the ball during a final knee situation and Steelers offensive linemen took offense, a skirmish broke out between the two squads. A few punches later, the Lions lost A’Shawn Robinson to ejection, a punishment that may have implications for the rising star and three additional defensive players this week.

Is Ebron on the way out?

With Tuesday’s trade deadline looming, will tight end Eric Ebron be on the move? When asked after Sunday’s game, Ebron seemed indifferent to the thought of a trade. But is the value good enough for the Lions right now to cut ties?

To go for it or not to go for it: that is the question.

Head coach Jim Caldwell decided to go for the touchdown on a fourth-and-goal opportunity from the one-yard line late in the third quarter, but the Lions’ offense was stopped. Of course, there is plenty of speculation this week about whether that choice was the correct one after poor red zone performances throughout the game.

Minnesota Vikings (6-2)

Won vs. Cleveland, 33-16; Bye week next

With Minnesota in first, Vikings’ players determined not to fall off again after bye.

Viking defensive linemen speak out about this year’s team as the organization tries to avoid a swoon after the bye week like last year.

Will Teddy Bridgewater get the nod with two weeks to prepare?

The Vikings must activate Bridgewater from the PUP List by November 8 in order to have him available the second half of the season. Head coach Mike Zimmer must make a big decision on whether to ride the hot hand of Case Keenum or return to the former first round pick.

Without Dalvin Cook, Jerick McKinnon is holding his own as a receiver.

As trade speculation heats up for the Vikings and their running back depth, McKinnon has quietly become a viable receiving threat out of the backfield. Coming off another big game against the Browns, McKinnon now ranks third on the team with 28 catches and has graded out well.

Chicago Bears (3-5)

Lost at New Orleans, 20-12; Bye week next

Zach Miller has emergency surgery to save leg.

The Chicago tight end underwent successful surgery after dislocating his knee and tearing an artery in the Bears’ loss against the Saints. The dislocation occurred as Miller fell in an effort to catch a 25-yard touchdown pass. Miller’s career is still in jeopardy after the surgery.

On Injured Reserve since week two, Jerrell Freeman’s season takes another wrong turn.

After missing four games last season for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policies, Freeman was suspended for 10 games on Monday for a second violation. Freeman had been a significant piece of the Bears’ defense a year ago, but had been missing since week two with a torn pectoral muscle.

Here are 12 thoughts from Sunday’s loss.

Mitch Trubisky’s composure and athleticism stood out to Adam Jahns, as he details ten additional takeaways from the Bears-Saints.