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State of the North, Week 6 Recap

The Lions continue to pull away from the bunch while the Packers rest up on bye.

NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers were on a bye this week after an embarrassing Monday night loss to the Las Vegas Raiders, leaving the North’s bottom two teams to duke it out in a bizarro gladiator contest for Caleb Williams while the Detroit Lions handily dispatched the overmatched Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Lions tightened their grip on the division as they now lead by 2.5 games. The North is, for now, the only division with three teams below .500. Take a bow, everyone.

Current Standings:

Detroit Lions (5-1)

Green Bay Packers (2-3)

Minnesota Vikings (2-4)

Chicago Bears (1-5)

Minnesota Vikings (2-4)

Week 6 Result: 19-12 win over the Chicago Bears (1-5)

Week 7 Opponent: San Francisco 49ers (5-1)

Chicago Bears (1-5)

Week 7 Opponent: Las Vegas Raiders (3-3)

This bottom-of-the-barrel matchup between two 1-4 teams started out as you’d expect: an offensive disaster class resulting in a field goal battle. The Vikings sorely missed Justin Jefferson (duh) and were unable to move the ball consistently against the Bears in the first half, with no drives over 50 yards until their final possession. On the day, they converted just 2-13 third downs against a Bears defense allowing nearly a 51% conversion rate.

Their final possession of the half, however, ended in a touchdown to Jordan Addison, the team’s standout rookie receiver and de facto number-one target without Jefferson. The Bears showed some fight in response, blocking Greg Joseph’s extra point to go into the half down 12-6.

The Bears’ day, and season, turned from bad to worse when Justin Fields suffered a dislocated right thumb on a sack during the team’s first drive of the second half. This left the rest of the game up to preseason darling Tyson Bagent, who was promoted to Fields’ backup after the Bears released Nathan Peterman on September 20th. Bagent immediately looked overwhelmed. Josh Metellus recorded the sack fumble, and linebacker Jordan Hicks returned the ball for a touchdown to put the Vikings up 19-6. The Bears scored their first touchdown on a 77-yard drive early in the fourth quarter, but were unable to complete the comeback, as Bagent had a pass to DJ Moore intercepted with 1:51 left in the game.

But of course draft position is what really matters for the Bears, and unfortunately for Caleb Williams, they still own the top two picks in the NFL Draft as of today.

Looking to next week, the Vikings will look to weather the storm against an angry 49ers team out for blood. After unsuccessfully handling the heavier boxes the Bears presented without the threat of Justin Jefferson, the Vikings’ offense may just be up a creek without a paddle in that one.

The Bears will take on the Las Vegas Raiders in a possible matchup of Tyson Bagent vs. Brian Hoyer; just what the NFL wants in Week 7. If Bagent were to suffer an injury against the Las Vegas Raiders, former Penn State quarterback and recent practice squad signing Trace McSorley would presumably become the starter and hope to throw it on a dime. So, yeah. Just another day in Chicago Bears football.

Detroit Lions (5-1)

Week 6 Result: 20-6 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

Week 7 Opponent: Baltimore Ravens (4-2)

Apparently, someone forgot to tell Jared Goff he can’t play well on the road. The Lions QB crushed the 3-2 Buccaneers on Sunday to the tune of 353 yards and 2 touchdowns. Like the rest of the NFC North in Week 6, the Lions sputtered out of the gate and did not score their first touchdown until the 2-minute warning approached. Poor red zone execution was the monster behind the mask in the first half, as the offense’s second drive stalled at the Tampa Bay 12-yard line after being gifted a Baker Mayfield interception. After breaking through with the aforementioned late first-half touchdown, the Lions controlled the game.

However, the echo of this particular touchdown drive will be heard throughout the Lions’ season, and perhaps the NFC. With 7:34 left in the 2nd quarter, David Montgomery left the game with a rib injury which is expected to sideline him for a bit. With the offense’s workhorse on the mend, Craig Reynolds and rookie Jahmyr Gibbs will look to fill the void, while Jared Goff will surely shoulder more responsibility. Next up for Detroit is a date with the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens, the team’s biggest test since their Week 1 opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

That’s it for our Week 6 NFC North recap. Check back here next week as all four teams will be in action against both the best and worst the AFC has to offer.