Three weeks into the NFL season and the Packers are a somewhat surprising 3-0 and the top of the NFC North. This generally hard-fought division is extremely competitive again so far this season. Every other team is above .500 and playing well.
The Lions are a quarter away from starting off 3-0. They held a substantial lead in the opener against the Cardinals before allowing 18th in the fourth. Both teams got a field goal in overtime and their season began with a 27-27 tie. In week two, Detroit struggled on offense much of the day against the Chargers. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was intercepted twice but overcame mistakes with a big touchdown pass in the middle of the fourth. An interception by the Lions Darius Slay in the end zone with just over a minute left sealed a 13-10 win.
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Last week in Philadelphia, the Lions took advantage of key injuries to the Eagles starting wide receivers, dropped passes and timely plays. An early 100-yard kickoff return by Jamal Agnew set the tone for the day. Two late defensive stops secured a 27-24 upset victory. The Lions are off to a 2-0-1 start.
In Minnesota, the Vikings started the season with a bang, scoring the first 28 points of the contest. Atlanta scored 12 points late but the Vikings prevailed, 28-12. Anthony Harris was the key on defense, intercepting to Matt Ryan passes and forcing a fumble. Dalvin Cook ran for two scores and Kirk Cousins delivered a touchdown pass in the victory.
The Vikings lone loss came to the Packers in week two. Green Bay started fast, scoring the first three touchdowns in the opening 16 minutes of play. Minnesota’s tough defense didn’t allow a point the rest of the game. Cook continued his excellent running with a 75-yard touchdown and Stefon Diggs scored on a 45-yard pass in the third. Minnesota lost the game at Lambeau Field by a 31-16 score.
Getting back on track at home against the Raiders, the Vikings scored first and led 21-7 at the half. They increased the lead to 21 in the third and cruised to a 34-14 win. Cook again found the end zone and finished with 111 yards on 16 carries. Cousins completed 15-of-21 with a touchdown in the victory. The Vikings sit at 2-1 for the season.
The Bears opened at home against the Packers in a typical black and blue division contest. Both defenses dominated. The Bears held the Packers to only 213 yards of total offense. However, the Bears offense struggled, particularly on the ground, gaining only 46 yards on 15 carries. The lone touchdown was Aaron Rodgers pass to Jimmy Graham. The Bears dropped to 0-1 with a 10-3 loss.
In another defensive struggle against the Broncos in week two, the Bears held a 13-3 lead after three. Two touchdowns and a field goal by Denver in the final quarter put the Bears in danger of dropping to 0-2 on the season and an early hole. Trailing by one with only 31 seconds to play, the Bears marched 40 yards in six plays, setting up the game-winning field goal by Eddy Piniero from 53 yards out. The Bears survived to go to 1-1.
Chicago had a much easier time disposing of the lowly Redskins in week three. They jumped off to a 28-3 lead at the half and never looked back, winning 31-15. The defense intercepted Case Keenum three times and recorded four sacks and three forced fumbles. Mitch Trubisky threw for three touchdowns in his better outing of the year. The Bears improved to 2-1.
Although still early, the NFC North appears to be the strongest and most balanced in the NFL. If this play continues, it will be an exciting season until the end in one of the most historic divisions in the NFL. At this point, the NFC North is 7-0-1 against the rest of the league.