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Where the Vikings Stand in the NFC North after Sunday’s Action

The Vikings had Sunday Off, the rest of the NFC North Didn't

While the Vikings, unfortunately, had some action Sunday, that action didn’t take place on the field. However, all three of the Vikings’ divisional opponents in the Packers, Bears and Lions had games as did the other NFC teams that the Vikings are currently vying with for playoff positioning. So, let’s take a look at how those NFC teams did on the Vikings Sunday off to see if their division and conference position changed at all.

Let’s start with the Packers, who faced the Patrick Mahomes-less Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. The game went down to the wire and had more iffy calls that’ll certainly have Vikings (and Bears/Lions/Chiefs) fans yet again bemoaning the “lucky” breaks that the Packers always seem to get. Despite the lack of the reigning MVP in Mahomes, the Chiefs played the Packers (who were yet again without their star receiver in Davante Adams) hard and sacked Rodgers often. The Packers running backs were the story of the night, but not in the way you’d think, as between Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams the Packers backs had four touchdowns (three through the air, one on the ground).

That win brought the Packers season-long record to 7-1, a game ahead of the Vikings. The Vikings are also a game back from the Packers thanks to the increasingly infuriating loss that the Vikings suffered at Lambeau. The Packers face the 3-5 Chargers in Los Angeles next week, while the Vikings will face the Chiefs in Kansas City (with a slim chance that Mahomes will return). The Packers’ next four games are against the Chargers, Panthers, 49ers, and Giants, a stretch that is arguably the toughest out of all the NFC North teams’ next four games (outside of the Vikings perhaps, who face the Chiefs, Cowboys, Broncos, and Seahawks).

The Bears faced those Chargers Sunday and fell to 3-5 on the season after a pair of missed kicks doomed their hopes for a last-second win at home at Soldier Field. Eddy Pineiro won the much-watched and talked about kicking battle this pre-season for the Bears which became the focal point after the infamous double-doink that knocked the promising Bears out of the playoffs by kicker Cody Parkey last season. In what has to feel like the worst luck imaginable, Pineiro’s first miss of the day Sunday actually hit the upright as well. In Pineiro’s defense, though, he was most of the offense for the Bears Sunday, as he went 3-5 on the day.

While people will bemoan the missed kick, it was the decisions that lead up to the 41-yarder that are getting the most attention in Chicago. The Bears, via it’s head coach Matt Nagy, decided to not go for more yardage after a long scramble by struggling quarterback Mitchell Trubisky got them within field goal range with over 40 seconds left on the clock.

When asked about that decision, Nagy said:

“I’m not even going to get into that. I have zero thought of running the ball and taking the chance of fumbling the football. They know you’re running the football, so you lose 3-4 yards. That wasn’t even in our process as coaches to think about.”

That loss, again, dropped the Bears to 3-5 and could be the straw that breaks the Bears’ back (get it? Cause usually it’s a camel’s back and because they’re the Bears I switched the animals! It’s called a pun and only really cool people use them!). The Bears face the Eagles, Lions, Rams, and Giants over the next four weeks and barring a turnaround could be out of contention soon.

That leaves the Lions, who spent Sunday fending off the lowly New York Giants. Giants rookie quarterback Daniel Jones arguably had his best game as a Pro, which might be him coming into his own (as the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft) or might be a sign that the bend-don’t-break defense of the Lions is officially break-and-break at this point. Jones threw for 322 yards and four scores with no interceptions against the Lions, who were a week removed from being thoroughly outclassed by Kirk Cousins and company in Detroit.

The Lions were without their running back Kerryon Johnson, who was injured during the Vikings game and had surgery earlier in the week effectively ending his season. His replacement, Tra Carson, did very little to pick up the slack as he “ran” 12 times for 34 yards (an anemic 2.8 yards per carry mark). Lions QB Matthew Stafford played well, though, after an interception early in the game. He finished the day going 25-for-32 for 342 yards and three touchdowns against that one pick.

That win puts the Lions at 3-3-1 on the season, a few games back from the Vikings (who also hold the tiebreaker thanks to their win in Detroit a little over a week ago). The Lions face the Raiders, Bears, Cowboys and ‘Skins over their next four games, a stretch that very well could determine their season.

With the dust having settled on Week 8 we’re seeing a clearer picture as to where the chips will lay at the end of the season. The Bears’ chances seem to rest on the shoulders of Trubisky, who is underperforming in every sense of the word. The loss of defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this off-season, or the emotional blow that comes from losing a playoff game via double-doink, seems to have deflated the Bears’ defense as well.

They’re still a good unit but they’re far from the unit that instilled fear in opposing offenses last season. Without that unit creating (and scoring on) turnovers at the rate they did in 2018, the Bears have to rely more on Trubisky to, you know run the offense. That’s something he’s clearly not doing at a high rate and because of that, it’s safe to say that the Bears will be out of the running by the time the Vikings face them at the end of the season.

The Lions are hanging around but their defense is simply not good enough to elevate the team to the level of the Vikings and… Ugh… Packers, and I fully expect them to go what analysts have dubbed “Full Detroit” in the next four games. That’d leave the Vikings and the Packers vying for the division crown (or one of the NFC’s Wild Card spots). The Packers were lucky to have faced the Chiefs without Mahomes, something that might not be the case for the Vikings next Sunday.

However, I still feel like the Packers will fall (somewhat) back to Earth at some point, especially considering how many of their remaining games are on the road (and Rodgers’ career .500 record away from Lambeau). They’ve had a lot of luck, good timing and awful calls go their way this season and at some point, that’s going to catch up with them. That having been said, they’re clearly a better team than they were in 2018, mostly thanks to the changes on the sidelines with Matt LaFleur taking over for Mike McCarthy. There’s been a lot of internet ink spilled lauding LaFleur and his system (which is essentially Vikings offensive coordinat… I mean consultant, Gary Kubiak) and what it’s meant for Rodgers and company, but I will stick by my article from earlier this season which stated that the Vikings had nothing to fear in Rodgers and the Pack.

Their defense is still young and Rodgers is playing a lot more like the Rodgers of old, but he has still made the mistakes that a younger Rodgers wouldn’t. A lot has been made of the help the Packers have received from officials, and there is a lot of smoke there, but I still think that they’ve been winning a lot of these games unsustainably (repeated “lucky” calls, balls bouncing a particular way, etc.). I fully expect the Vikings to best the Packers at home to even the season series, the real question then becomes who ends up with the better record across the final seven games this season.
The Packers face the Panthers (4-3), Redskins (1-7), and Bears (3-5) at home while facing the Chargers, Vikings (6-2), 49ers (7-0), Giants (2-6), and Lions (3-3-1) on the road.

That’s a final schedule win/loss of 26-24, a home record of 8-15 and a road record of 18-9-1. Considering Rodgers’ mediocrity on the road over his career, I likes them odds. The Vikings face the Broncos (2-6), Lions (3-3-1), Packers (7-1) and Bears (3-5) at home and the Chiefs (5-3), Seahawks (6-2), Chargers (3-5), and Cowboys (4-3) on the road. That’s good for a remaining record of 33-28-1, an even 15-15-1 at home and 18-13 on the road. While you’d think that the discrepancy of home games favors the Packers, they do face one less team at home and thus one more on the road. That one game could be the difference for these teams who are currently neck and neck (especially assuming the Vikings win at home against the Pack week 16).
Stay Tuned!

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Joe Johnson

Joe Johnson started back in May of 2015 and has talked Vikings online since the advent of the internet, namely on Reddit's /r/MinnesotaVikings section under the username p_U_c_K. He purchased before the 2017-18 season, used to write for and is the host of the purpleJOURNAL Podcast, as well.

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  1. Bahahahaha this is the saltiest article… cry a little more about the Packers. You’re obsessed, little man. I can’t imagine being the kind of fan who spends more time crying about division rivals than rooting for their own team. I’m happy for the Vikes when they play well and win. It makes the division better when more teams scrape their way better than .500. Sorry you can’t do the same. That’s a sad mentality to live in. I didn’t whine and cry last year when Chicago did well and GB put up a pathetic 6-9-1 record, I rooted for them against the Eagles in the playoffs. I literally only root against NFC North teams when they’re playing the Packers. Guess we live rent-free in your head though. Like that Detroit fan who bought a billboard of a ref wearing a cheesehead. What a sad, sad fan you seem to be. Go get some fresh air and clear your head a little, that’s not a healthy attitude. Next week I’m rooting for all 4 NFC North teams again, and you’ll be accusing the Pack of cheating and bribing refs again, too busy to care how well your own team plays. In my perfect world, both wild card teams come from our division and the Pack goes to the SB. In your perfect world, Rodgers breaks his collarbone again and gets fined for cheating. Trashy! Cheer up, my friend.

  2. I usually don’t respond to comments on my stuff but since you’re a Packers fan, and throwing out really easily refuted/mockable stuff, I figure. Why not.

    A) Cry? Obsessed? With the Packers?

    This article is about the NFC North from a Vikings fan/writers perspective. I spent as much time on the Packers as I did the Bears and Lions. I mentioned officiating and lucky bounces as those are typically UNSUSTAINABLE ways to win over a long enough period of time not because I’m complaining. I don’t need to complain about anything the Packers do, as I said in my linked article, I don’t fear them and I don’t think Rodgers is “Rodgers” anymore.

    However, if you asked 10 objective people who in this instance seems obsessed about what, I’m sure none of them would point to the Packers fan that within 20 minutes found an article that simply MENTIONED what most people around the league are talking about the past two weeks and then spent the longest paragraph in this sites history (and that’s saying something) throwing insults about the most benign mention of the Packers’ “luck” this season.

    I know people East of the St. Croix don’t understand sarcasm so what I’m saying is that you’re on a site solely dedicated to the Vikings attempting to defend your team from someone pointing out what has been written and talked about A LOT the past couple weeks. If you were so confident you wouldn’t be here COMPLAINING that someone mentioned the unsustainability of “winning” how your squad has.

    B) You’re Happy when the Vikings do well…


    C) You root for all NFC North Teams…

    Good for you. No where does it say that people need to be happy or root for anyone or live by your apparently happy-go-lucky yet insanely angry outlook on life.

    D) You’ll be accusing the Packers of Cheating and Bribing the Refs

    Again. Not accusing anyone of bribes. Or the Packers of cheating. I simply said that other people have said that and that you can’t rely on lucky calls all season long. Sooner or later they’re going to have to win without that and I genuinely don’t think they can or will. Rodgers is a career .500 on the road guy and five of the final eight Packers game are on the road. If you’re comfortable with those odds, good for you. But I’m here to talk about the division from the Vikings perspective and I feel very comfortable with what I wrote.

    E) Go outside/Get Fresh Air…

    You realize you’re inside, right? Your response took time to write just like my article did. Those are really lazy internet arguments from like 1996. Not everyone online that mentions something is obsessed or some shut in. You just need them to be, because without that your argument is what… That I’m a fan and writer for a team that you claim you root for and because I mentioned something that most people with eyes and frontal lobes have said is bad officiating AT BEST, you thought you’d fire up that whatever is behind that really thick eyebrow ridge of yours to bust out the same Packers refrains that have been said since I was waiting in line for AOL to get less busy so I could hop in an NFL chatroom.

    F) In my perfect world…

    So, because I said the Packers weren’t as good as their record and have a tough schedule (particularly road schedule) I want Rodgers to get hurt? I don’t care who you root for, dude. I don’t care that someone bought a billboard. People can do what they want and I might not agree with this or that, but you know what I did? I built the largest independent Vikings content network to show my support for my team, not to shit on the Packers. What do you do with the exact same amount of time and resources? Hit f5 on Google news for “Vikings Packers” so you can copy and paste lazy Wisconsin boo hoo-ery about Vikings fans wanting your God injured.

    Can’t you see the hypocrisy?

    You NEED me to fit into some sort of pre-conceived box so you can feel better about what a “great” fan you are. That Packers fans are > Vikings fans. That we want Rodgers hurt, or said that the Packers bribed the refs… Where did I say anything close to that?

    I’m responding to what you’re saying, you’re responding to what you need me to say to feel superior online over football. But you’re such a positive fan, right?

    That’s a rhetorical question. Google it.


    I own this site and two others that focus on the Vikings and I rarely, rarely RARELY talk about the Vikings. This might be the second time I’ve done that in four years of doing this. Just saying.

    And this, my friends, is how you debate!

    PS pt 2 – You can say a lot about me but “small” isn’t one of them. Also, the reason people want to see Rodgers hurt is because he’s a smug cry baby who goes on national television to call an objectively routine tackle “late” or “dirty” instead of maybe thinking, considering that was his second collar bone breakage, perhaps he’s got bird innards? It bothers people because it makes our players look dirty when they haven’t done anything except tackle a runner who is well outside the pocket (and then, gasp, have the “nerve” to not offer to help that player up off the ground, because we all know every tackle in the NFL is immediately followed by the tackler giving the opposing player CPR just in case). I could’ve gone on whatever Packers fan site doesn’t overwhelm the entire states bandwidth and complained about Rodgers and company going on Conan or saying in the media that Barr is a dirty player. Because I had video evidence that it was a routine tackle. But it’s that sort of thing FROM YOUR TEAM that fosters negativity on and off the field. Billboards from fan groups with too much money or articles about the Packers getting really lucky when it really matters don’t do that. So, perhaps start with your own group before you get all high and mighty about how Vikings writers talk about reality.

    I want to make this VERY clear, though. I would NEVER call for a player to get hurt. I’ve had a press pass and I’ve been reared to respect the fact that these are men with families. I just know the psyche of sports fans and I’ve heard people make that argument (just as I’m sure there are gross Packers fans, how do I know that? See above) but that’s really really below what we try to do here and would never be tolerated, period.

  3. Don’t sugarcoat it, Joe. Tell him how you really feel. ; ) Well done, sir. I think the writer is looking in his review mirror and recognizing that things are closer than they appear. I would love to have seen him last Thursday night rooting for the Vikings. I am sure his Helga horns are in a prized place on his mantle, alongside Lions and Bears gear, but just below the Packers shrine. You betcha, he wants to see the Vikings succeed. I got news for him, “that’s not how any of this works.”

  4. Somehow your single paragraph summed things up better than my entire novel. You’re still teaching me junk!

    Speaking of which, I just name dropped you in my piece on PTSD (the Great Mahomes debate).