Posted in: NFL
We have already seen many storylines develop within the NFC North so far, and there is plenty of drama yet to unfold between these four teams.
First was Aaron Rodgers’ return from the locker room to lead the Packers to a come-from-behind win over the Bears in Week 1.
In Week 2, Rodgers was once again involved in more drama, but this time it was the Vikings who came from behind to tie the game, but failed to win it on two missed field goals in overtime from kicker Daniel Carlson. The end results was the second tie of the season through just two weeks of play, but Green Bay got away with one here.
Khalil Mack has been an absolute beast for the Bears up front while the Lions have allowed 78 points in two games this season and for the zillionth consecutive season, don’t appear to have a running game.
What does it all mean? First, let’s take a look at the current futures odds for every team to win the NFC North division, courtesy of BetOnline.
The Packers have already played two head-to-head games in this division, and are 1-0-1 with a +1 point differential. The Vikings own the same record as Green Bay after dumping the visiting 49ers in Week 1. The Bears evened their record at 1-1 after winning a Monday Night game against the Seahawks in Week 2 while the Lions are searching for answers after a disappointing 0-2 start.
Who takes home the NFC North crown? It certainly seems like a two-team race already, and the Bears can thank Mack, and only Mack, for their fine start to the season and arm’s length odds after two weeks. That said, I am liking one team to come out on top here.
Boy does Kirk Cousins look good in a Vikings uniform.
Through two weeks, Cousins’ 669 passing yards are the fifth-most in the NFL while his six TDs are in a third-place tie league-wide. He has a 108.7 passer rating so far, just under Rodgers’ 111.3 mark, and his 35 first downs are also tied for third.
Cousins has found excellent chemistry so far with a pair of receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. Thielen’s 18 receptions are tied for second in the league while his 233 yards on the season are tied for sixth. Both of these numbers are tied with the Falcons’ Julio Jones, just to give you an idea of the season the Cousins/Thielen connection is enjoying so far.
Diggs had a big game in Week 2, catching two touchdown passes and notching 128 yards at Lambeau. It appears Cousins is going to bring out the best in these two receivers.
Minnesota has yet to establish a running game, which is typical of Cousins-led offenses. In his second year out of Florida State, lead back Delvin Cook has amassed just 78 yards on 26 carries, or three yards per carry. When you have a quarterback that attempts 42 throws per game, there isn’t going to be a whole lot of carries to be had.
Of course, Minnesota’s defense is going to be a big part of their success coming off a 2017 in which they were the league’s best unit. The Vikings allowed only 192.4 yards through the air per game last season (2nd) and just 83.6 yards on the ground per game (2nd). With Sheldon Richardson and Linval Joseph stuffing runs up the middle and Xavier Rhodes leading a quality secondary, it’s not hard to fathom Minnesota ranking among the league’s best defenses again this season.
Heck, they held Rodgers to just 281 yards and one touchdown at Lambeau Field last week. That’s quite an accomplishment.
The Vikings get a very favorable matchup at home against the 0-2 Bills this week, but they also hit the road to face the Rams and Eagles in Week 4 and 5, respectively, before coming back home for another favorable tilt against the 0-2 Cardinals
With Aaron Rodgers already missing practises after a Week 1 injury scare, it seems that this division is up for grabs at this point. It’s going to be the Vikings who take advantage of the opportunity, especially if they can win a Week 12 matchup at home against those very same Packers.