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NFC NORTH: Biggest headlines surrounding each team

Things continue to remain tight in the NFC North, which should make for an exciting second half of the season for the Vikings, Packers, Lions and Bears, as the four teams are separated by just a half game in the standings.

This week's NFC North update takes a look at the biggest headlines surrounding each team heading toward the midway point of the season.


Record: 4-2-1

Last game: Beat Jets, 37-17

Headline: Vikings defensive end Everson Griffen to rejoin team Wednesday

Griffen, who has been away from the team for a month while receiving treatment for mental health issues, will resume team activities on Wednesday, the team announced Tuesday.

Griffen has been a Pro Bowler the last three seasons for the Vikings, accumulating 31.5 sacks over that span. It's unclear how quickly he can get back in the Sunday lineup, but his addition to Minnesota's defense is a huge boost the second half of the season.

Stats pack: Even without Griffen, the Vikings are currently fourth in the NFL with 21 sacks, led by Danielle Hunter's 7.5.

Quotable: "While this is an exciting and positive move forward for me, it is only the next step in a longer process," Griffen said in a statement, via the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "My larger focus remains on addressing my personal health, and I'm hopeful the time will come when I feel comfortable sharing my story and using my platform to bring awareness to these issues."

Next up: vs. New Orleans (5-1)


Record: 3-2-1

Last game: Bye week

Headline: Packers looking to get ground game going

During the bye week, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the entire offense was reviewed, and every aspect of the running game, from down and distance to scheme to specific calls, was broken down.

The Packers are throwing the ball 68.2 percent of the time this season. The only team with a higher percentage is the New York Giants (68.5).

The crazy thing about that statistic is when the Packers do run, they're averaging 4.7 yards per carry, so they've been pretty effective when they've rushed it. Running back Aaron Jones has been particularly good in that regard with a 5.9-yard average per carry.

Stats pack: The Packers are recording a 10-plus-yard run 15.9 percent of the times they rush. Only the Los Angeles Chargers (19.7), Carolina (19.1) and San Francisco (16.2) have a higher percentage.

Quotable: "We have to find the balance," quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Journal Sentinel this week. "We have to run the ball better more often and convert the third downs and get more opportunities."

Next up: at Los Angeles Rams (7-0)


Record: 3-3

Last game: Beat the Dolphins, 32-21

Headline: Detroit's run game getting on a roll

The Lions spent a lot of resources revamping their run game this offseason and now seven weeks into the season, they're starting to enjoy the fruits of that labor.

First-round pick Frank Ragnow has become one of the top-graded run-blocking guards in the NFL this season. Second-round pick Kerryon Johnson is the second leading rusher among rookies. Veteran running back LeGarrette Blount has brought a toughness and physical presence to Detroit's ground game. Even linebacker turned fullback, Nick Bellore, is making an impact.

The Lions currently own the league's 11th best rushing attack by averaging 122.3 yards per game. They're coming off a 248-yard onslaught on the ground against Miami that saw Johnson rush for a career-high 158 yards.

Stats pack: Johnson's 71-yard second-quarter run against the Dolphins last week is the second-longest by an NFL player this season and the longest by a rookie.

Quotable: "They've always been a big-time offense," Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said of Detroit's offense in a conference call ahead of this week's matchup. "When you have Matthew (Stafford) back there, you have all the fire power you need.

"But whenever you can have balance, it just makes it that much harder. You're constantly working year-in and year-out to seek the balance that it takes to have a run game that can complement your passing game, to keep the rush down and all that kind of stuff. So, it's a big factor and it just makes them more dangerous. You can see them just coming to life so clearly under Matt (Patricia) and it's a nice-looking football team right now."

Next up: vs. Seattle (3-3)


Record: 3-3

Last game: Lost to Patriots, 37-31

Headline: Trubisky becoming a big factor as a runner

The second-year Bears quarterback had 81 rushing yards on six carries last week vs. New England, and is currently second among quarterbacks with 245 rushing yards on 31 carries (7.9 average) this season. That trails only Carolina quarterback Cam Newton's 257 rushing yards.

Trubisky is Chicago's second leading rusher behind Jordan Howard (311). The Bears currently rank sixth in the league in rushing. Trubisky has played a big factor in that. It's something defenses have to account for now when playing the Bears.

Stats pack: Trubisky is on a pace to rush for more than 650 yards, which would be third among NFL quarterbacks since 1970.

Quotable: "Well, you always have risk," Bears head coach Matt Nagy told the Chicago Sun-Times of the injury risk with Trubisky running the ball "And we always tell them to protect themselves, to make sure when you're in the field of play, just get down and be smart.

"I think (Sunday) was more the way the game was going, the way he was feeling like what he needed to do to help out in some situations – more so than just reading the backer – he pulls it and runs. (That's) a little different. Scrambles are different than run-game reads."

Next up: vs. New York Jets (3-4

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