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NFC North Roundup, Week 8: Bears’ offense awakens, Lions’ remains in hibernation

Justin Fields’ running ability jump-started Chicago en route to a big win, but Detroit failed to hit double-digit points for the second straight game.

Chicago Bears v New England Patriots Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Luke Getsy had a rough go of it for his first handful of games as an offensive coordinator. Through the Chicago Bears’ first six games, the team had scored just 93 points, an average of only 15.5 per game. To make matters worse, the team had more games under 100 passing yards (two) than with more than 160 (one).

While the passing game did not exactly awaken on Monday night in New England, Getsy got the Bears’ running game going by using one of Justin Fields’ best attributes, his running ability. That helped the Bears’ league-leading rushing attack to dominate the Patriots’ defense and reach 30 points for the first time this season. That’s a number the 2021 Bears reached only once in 2021, in a 45-30 loss to the Green Bay Packers that featured a special teams touchdown and multiple broken plays in the Packers’ secondary.

Is Chicago suddenly a contender for the NFC North or in the conference as a whole? Time will tell before one could say that with any confidence. But the fact is that the Bears’ offense has a new dimension that it didn’t have in the first several games of this season, and it will be a difficult one for defenses to account for.

On the other hand, the Detroit Lions had the league’s highest-scoring offense through several games, scoring 35, 36, 24, and 45 points over the first four weeks. However, in their last two games, they have managed just six points in total, including a shutout in week five by the same Patriots who just allowed the Bears to score 33. D’Andre Swift’s absence has surely hurt, but there are plenty of other issues causing problems for Detroit.

Let’s take a spin around the rest of the division to see what the Packers’ NFC North rivals are up to coming out of week 7 and heading into week 8.

Minnesota Vikings (5-1)

Week 7: BYE
Week 8: vs. Arizona Cardinals

Five Good Questions from Daily Norseman readers - Daily Norseman
With their team on a bye, our SB Nation colleagues answered some reader questions about the team's 5-1 start.

How sports science has helped the Vikings be one of the NFL's healthiest teams - Sports Illustrated
Injuries are hitting the league hard. The Vikings have mostly avoided them so far, thanks to a changing of the guard in the organization, as the team moved on from its longtime head trainer and hired a new sports science executive director.

How Kwesi Adofo-Mensah handles the trade deadline will speak volumes | Vikings Wire
Meanwhile, the feeling in Minnesota is that they should be active buyers at next week's deadline. It's hard to disagree given their positioning in the standings and in the relatively weak NFC.

Chicago Bears (3-4)

Week 7: Defeated New England Patriots 33-14 (MNF)
Week 8: at Dallas Cowboys

Notes: Bears dominate in upset road win over Patriots - Windy City Gridiron
The Bears reached 30 points in a game for the Packers, something that would have seemed ludicrous after the two teams' week 2 meeting.

Justin Fields' designed runs brought 'whole different element' to Bears offense in blowout over Patriots |
One big reason for Chicago's offensive output was Luke Getsy calling designed runs for Fields. He still didn't eclipse 200 passing yards on Monday night (he has done so just once this year), but he picked up 82 yards on 14 carries, including a touchdown.

Chicago Bears defense takes the game from New England - Sports Illustrated
The Bears' D also stepped up, picking off three passes and recovering a fumbled snap while holding New England to just 14 points.

Detroit Lions (1-5)

Week 7: Lost to Dallas Cowboys 24-6
Week 8: vs. Miami Dolphins

Lions News: Aidan Hutchinson has best career game vs. Cowboys - Pride Of Detroit
Hutchinson had 1.5 sacks on Sunday thanks in part to Josh Paschal, a fellow rookie who made his debut this week after missing six weeks with an injury.

Dan Campbell: ‘We anticipate having’ WR Amon-Ra St. Brown in Week 8 | Lions Wire
Meanwhile, St. Brown the younger appears on track to play in week 8, which should keep him available in week 9 when the Lions host the Packers.