Oct 13, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80) does a celebration dance after catching his third touchdown pass during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Lions beat the Browns 31-17. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

NFC North Roundup for NFL Week 6

Oct 13, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80) celebrates his first quarter touchdown catch during the first quarter against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

It was a week devoid of statement wins, but the Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, and Green Bay Packers all took care of business in Week 6, which means the division is every bit as up for grabs as it was a week ago.

The Vikings continue to sink to the bottom of both the division and league standings, and while it’s early in the season, it’s hard to imagine the Vikings aren’t looking right now at just auditioning Josh Freeman for next season. With the top of the division so strong, even if the Vikings start to play better, they won’t overtake all three teams (if any).

So let’s look at where we are in the NFC North after six weeks, and then break down how each team’s performance was flawed.

Standings

Detroit — 4-2 (2-1 NFCN)

Chicago — 4-2 (1-1 NFCN)

Green Bay — 3-2 (1-0 NFCN)

Minnesota — 1-4 (0-2 NFCN)

Like last week, the Lion lead the division on account of a tiebreaker over the Bears, and the Packers are reliably charging back.

However, there has yet to be a clear power player in the division thus far. All three teams have showed flashes of greatness, but nobody is dominant. Any of the three teams at the top of the division look like they could reasonably win or lose against any team, any week.

That’s going to make the next two-thirds of the season very exciting.

 

Detroit Lions

Oct 13, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80) makes a touchdown catch against Cleveland Browns inside linebacker Craig Robertson (53) and cornerback Buster Skrine (22) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

A win over the Cleveland Browns doesn’t look like much, but this was a team that had won as many games in a row as the Lions had won all year long. The Browns put up a stiff fight, even scoring a flurry of points to lead 17-7 at halftime. But the Lions outscored them 24-0 in the second half to seize control of the game.

Despite a good-looking final score, the Lions have some issues. The pass rush was inconsistent, which allowed Brandon Weeden (!) to pick apart the secondary, which actually looks worse each week.

In addition, while Stafford looks to be more comfortable and more accurate each week, his receivers are dropping passes at an alarming rate. And that’s not because of a lack of Calvin Johnson. Johnson is one of the culprits.

Still, 4-2 is a good place to be with a banged-up offense. When Johnson and Nate Burleson return to health, the Lions should improve greatly.

Next Game: 10/20 vs. Cincinnati (4-2)

 

 

Chicago Bears

Oct 10, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Tim Jennings (26) intercepts a pass intended for New York Giants tight end Brandon Myers (83) during the second half at Soldier Field. Chicago defeats New York 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A win is a win, but squeaking by the 0-5 (now 0-6) New York Giants on account of a dropped pass probably isn’t the statement the Bears were looking for.

Still, they’re 4-2 and the defense is as good as it’s ever been, especially when it comes to forcing turnovers. That alone will carry them to wins this season. In fact, with the offense playing hot and cold as it has a tendency to do, they’ll need the defense to carry them to wins more often than not.

This is a team with a lot of big questions, but at this point in the season, which team in the NFC North isn’t? The Bears, like the Lions and Packers, display a lot of good, but nothing consistently great.

Next Game: 10/20 at Washington (1-3, at Dallas Sunday night)

Green Bay Packers

Oct 13, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) communicates with teammates during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M

The Packers are getting it done with their running game and defense, or as you know them, the things the Packers aren’t supposed to be able to do well.

You would think that would make them a juggernaut team, but they still don’t appear to be firing on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers was only 17/32, but still managed to put up over 300 yards and a touchdown. Still, this is third consecutive game Rodgers has looked shaky, but the Packers are 2-1 in those three games, so maybe they’re just fine.

That said, receivers Randall Cobb and James Jones both left the game against Baltimore and did not return. Rodgers might be preparing for the “Tom Brady Experience,” in which he has to make do with one good receiver and a good running game. Of course, if Eddie Lacy keeps running for 100 yards a game, maybe the Pack won’t have to key off the pass anymore.

Next Game: 10/20 vs Cleveland (3-3)

 

Minnesota Vikings

Oct 13, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams (34) goes past Minnesota Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway (52) on an 18 yard pass reception in the fourth quarter at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome. Panthers win 35-10. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings fans probably don’t want to hear that their season is over. And after only five games, it isn’t.

Mathematically.

To keep pace with the rest of the NFC North, they needed to match them with a win. They had a bye week to prepare for the 1-3 Carolina Panthers, and they lost 35-10. At home.

So for those keeping score at home, no, Matt Cassel is not the answer. But after today’s performance, there’s a reasonable chance that the Vikings will spend much of the remainder of the 2013 season trying to figure out if Josh Freeman is. If he isn’t, a quarterback has to be a primary focus for them next offseason (maybe it should be anyway).

Next Game: 10/21 Monday vs. New York Giants (0-6)

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  • Herman Moore

    I feel like the Bears are on their way down to join the Vikings in the division cellar. They had to get lucky to beat the Giants and Vikings by the skin of their teeth, and in a division like the NFC North, that’s going to catch up to them.

    • Dean Holden

      They have Washington next weekend, then they have a bye week to prepare for the Packers. If they don’t play better than they have, they could lose both. That said, their only losses are to the 4-2 Lions and the 5-1 Saints, and all of their games have been close, so they’re tough to gauge. Are they just barely better than the Giants, or just barely worse than the Saints?