NFC North Taking on an AL Central Vibe

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports.

Through two weeks of the 2023 NFL regular season, the NFC North appears to have a similar vibe as the similarly regioned AL Central in Major League Baseball. For the Minnesota Vikings, like their city brother Minnesota Twins, that’s a good thing.

NFC North Taking on an AL Central Vibe

The Minnesota Vikings dropped a contest against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night. That’s not exactly surprising in and of itself. Winning on the road in Philadelphia is not an easy thing. Kevin O’Connell’s team came in as a touchdown underdog. The problem is that they had ample opportunity to win. With the rest of the NFC North suffering a similar fate, there’s a path forward.

Jalen Hurts, and the Eagles did little to separate early, and the Vikings responded by coughing up the football four separate times. Rather than taking advantage of a slow start by Philadelphia and looking to pull the upset, they left with a backdoor cover and a whimper of an effort.

If there’s a silver lining during Week 2, Minnesota has the longest runway to get healthy among their closest competition, and they got to watch everyone else lose on Sunday. The Chicago Bears dropped a contest against Minnesota’s Week 1 opponent, while Green Bay fell apart late, and the Detroit Lions showed their inability to handle success.

AL Central
Detroit Lions safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson, with a ski mask, is ready to take the field against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field in Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Through the first two weeks of the season, Green Bay and Detroit are both 1-1, while Chicago and Minnesota are 0-2. Coming back to make the playoffs from a 0-2 start is not an easy task, but playing in a division with no clear favorite should help a team with talent like Minnesota have an outside chance.

Next week, the Vikings will welcome a Los Angeles Chargers team to U.S. Bank Stadium while both teams sport a 0-2 record. Justin Herbert is one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, but the sum of that team’s parts has yet to put it together, and their defeat in Tennessee on Sunday puts them in the same spot as Minnesota.

Things don’t get easier for the Vikings by any means. The Chargers won’t roll over, and then facing the Kansas City Chiefs two weeks later doesn’t help matters. However, if the Vikings can put up a few surprises in the win column, that may be more than the rest of their division can point to as positives.

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Unfortunately, Justin Fields will remain a major question mark for the Bears. His decision-making remains questionable, and his availability is always a concern being a runner. The Detroit Lions were a popular pick coming into the year, but they just coughed up 37 points to a mediocre Seahawks team while playing at home. The defense is better than a year ago, but improving on dead last doesn’t mean much.

The Green Bay Packers could be the wild card in the division, and how much Jordan Love can do under center will likely determine their future. He didn’t deserve to be on the losing end Sunday in Atlanta, but it is a reflection of a flawed team that had many issues masked by the performance of Aaron Rodgers.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10), Aaron Rodgers (12), and Danny Etling (19) run to the practice field during training camp on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022, at Ray Nitschke Field in Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wis.

There’s no denying that the Vikings need to start finding ways to win games rather than seeking ways to lose them. If they can turn that tide, though, they should expect plenty of opportunities within the division, and the foursome may be among the worst in the sport. Thankfully, there aren’t style points when making the playoffs, and getting in is enough to see if Minnesota can make noise.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.