If one thing is certain in the NFC North after the first five weeks of the 2018 regular season, it is that the divisional race is wide open.
Following a sloppy 31-23 loss to the Detroit Lions, the Green Bay Packers (2-2-1) find themselves in the thick of a battle behind the division-leading Chicago Bears. With the Packers heading home to Lambeau Field on Monday night to face the San Francisco 49ers, it is becoming almost imperative for the team to re-right the ship before the bye week.
Elsewhere across the NFC North, a pair of wideouts have become reliable weapons for their respective teams. Minnesota’s Adam Thielen and Detroit’s Kenny Golladay have posted intriguing weekly numbers over the first five weeks, with Thielen especially beginning to emerge as a top receiver in the NFL after another dynamic performance against Philadelphia.
More on the individual achievements of the two receivers, as well as a look at what to expect from Chicago in the second “half” of its season, in today’s rundown.
Detroit Lions (2-3)
Won 31-23 vs. Green Bay; Bye week next
While the Packers helped Detroit out on Sunday with turnovers and missed field goals. the Lions’ wild inconsistency has shown in wins over New England and Green Bay and losses to San Francisco and the New York Jets.
Detroit’s second-year receiver has steadily improved, tallying at least four catches and 50 yards in each game this season. He continued to make impact plays against Green Bay.
Complacency and losing focus have hurt the Lions in recent weeks and the Lions’ defensive lineman will only be watching the negative plays in his new house this week.
Chicago Bears (3-2)
Bye; Next at Miami
A slightly diminished role for the Bears’ main running back has been concerning for Chicago fans, but Matt Nagy chalks it up to “game-plan specific” strategy as Howard splits time with Tarik Cohen.
Eric Kush has been getting the starts at left guard early in the season for Chicago, but rookie James Daniels has worked his way into the rotation and received around 40% of snaps last week. Nagy is continuing to evaluate both players as possible starters as the season wears on.
As the Bears get back to action after the bye, several young players and a favorable schedule are among the notable topics to watch during the rest of the 2018 season.
Minnesota Vikings (2-2-1)
Won 23-21 at Philadelphia; Next vs. Arizona
Turnovers, penalties, and made field goals formed a group of five plays that changed the game against Philadelphia. Video included.
Thielen’s onside kick recovery to seal the win on Sunday almost covered up a special feat accomplished by the veteran over the team’s first five games.
Kirk Cousins continues to shine, while the Vikings’ defense continues to trot out almost exclusively in the “nickel.”