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NFC NORTH: Early impact performers for each team

After two weeks of football, things are still pretty tight in the NFC North. The Lions are last in the division at 0-2, but only a game and a half out of first place thanks to last Sunday's tie between the Vikings (1-0-1) and Packers (1-0-1). The Bears (1-1) got their first win of the season Monday night against the Seahawks.

We have already seen a number of impact performances from a variety of different players within a division proving to be one of the most competitive in the league.

For this week's NFC North, we take a closer look at some of those early impact performers.


Record: 1-0-1

Last week: Tied Green Bay 29-29

Impact performers:

DT Sheldon Richardson: What a free agent signing Richardson has turned out to be early on for the Vikings. He has a sack, five quarterback hits and an amazing seven quarterback hurries from the interior in just two games.

QB Kirk Cousins: Another solid investment thus far via free agency. Cousins has thrown six touchdowns vs. only one interception and is completing 65.5 percent of his passes for a solid passer rating of 108.7.

WR Adam Thielen: His 18 receptions so far are the fourth most in the NFL. His six catches on third down lead the league. He's averaging 117 receiving yards per game.

Key stat: Cousins has a passer rating of 135.4 in the red zone this season. He's thrown a touchdown on half of his throws in the red zone in two games.

Next up: vs. Buffalo (0-2)


Record: 1-0-1

Last week: Tied Minnesota 29-29

Impact performers:

QB Aaron Rodgers: Rodgers' 111.1 passer rating through two weeks ranks fifth in the NFL, but it's his play in the fourth quarter and on third down that's been really good. His passer rating in the fourth quarter this year is 153.4, and he has a rating of 125.5 on third down.

WR Randall Cobb: The ninth-year receiver has been a security blanket of sorts for Rodgers in the slot. He's tied for the team lead with 13 receptions and leads the Packers with 172 receiving yards and a 13.2 average per reception.

S Kentrell Brice: His 15 tackles are second most among the league's safeties. He also has a sack, and hasn't allowed a touchdown in coverage.

Key stat: Opponents are averaging 4-plus yards on 60 percent of their rushing attempts against the Packers this season, which is the highest mark in the NFL. The Packers have allowed 27 runs of 4-plus yards on 45 rushing attempts.

Next up: at Washington (1-1)


Record: 1-1

Last week: Defeated Seattle 24-17

Impact performers:

OLB Khalil Mack: Mack has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Bears' defense. He leads all outside linebackers with 10 quarterback hurries on the season, and also has two sacks, two forced fumbles an interception and a touchdown in just two games.

G Kyle Long: Chicago's starting right guard hasn't allowed a sack or quarterback hit, and has been as solid as ever opening holes in the run game for a Bears' offense that currently ranks in the Top 15 in points scored (23.5) and rushing yards per game (112.5).

RB Jordan Howard: He's the first running back in Bears history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in his first two seasons. Howard is averaging 4.0 yards per rush to start his third season, but has been a bigger part of the passing game than he ever has before. Howard already has eight catches on the season (third most on team) for 58 yards. His career high for receptions for an entire season is just 29.

Key stat: The Bears' offense ranks No. 1 in the NFL this season with six drives taking up more than five minutes off the clock. Chicago has scored on every one of those drives (three touchdowns & three field goals).

Next up: at Arizona (0-2)


Record: 0-2

Last week: Lost to San Francisco 30-27

Impact performers:

WR Kenny Golladay: His 203 receiving yards ranks in the Top 11 in the league and 11 of his 13 catches this season have gone for first downs.

OLB Devon Kennard: Kennard's three sacks are tied for third in the NFL. He's also third on the Lions' defense with 10 tackles. He's currently graded among the Top 10 3-4 outside linebackers by Pro Football Focus.

CB Jamal Agnew: His 28.8 kickoff return average is fifth best in the NFL. He returned a punt for a touchdown that got called back due to a penalty. In limited snaps on defense in the slot, Agnew has been pretty solid in coverage, including a pass breakup last weekend in San Francisco.

Key stat: Detroit's eight sacks in two games are tied for the third most in the NFL.

Next up: vs. New England (1-1)

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