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NFC NORTH: Headlines surrounding each team

Chicago, Minnesota and Green Bay are still bunched up pretty tight in the NFC North standings separated by just a game and a half. Detroit has fallen behind division leader Chicago by three games as a result of their current three-game losing streak.

There's still a lot of football to be played, but the home stretch is nearing.

This week's NFC North column takes a look at the big headlines surrounding the four teams in the division heading into Week 11.


Record: 6-3

Last week: Beat Detroit, 34-22

Headline: Trubisky has the Bears believing

The biggest jump in development for NFL players typically comes between years one and two. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who ranks in the top 10 among NFL quarterbacks in passer rating (101.6), is a good example of that.

Consider this statistic from the Chicago Sun-Times: Since Week 4, Trubisky's 114.8 passer rating is the fifth best in the NFL. It's higher than Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Andrew Luck.

Trubisky's 320 rushing yards are the second most among NFL quarterbacks, proving he can be a weapon on the ground with his feet as well.

Trubisky was named NFC Player of the Week after throwing for 355 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Detroit.

He's playing good, mistake-free football. If he continues that, with Chicago's defense being as good as they are, there's a winning formula brewing in Chicago.

Stats pack: Sunday vs. Detroit marked the third time in six games Chicago led by 26 or more points in the first half. They had accomplished that just twice in the previous 11 seasons, per the Sun-Times.

Quotable: "I thought Mitch probably had his best game of the season, without a doubt," Bears head coach Matt Nagy told "He was on fire, he was efficient, threw the ball with conviction, his eyes were great. I'm really super proud of him for coming out here and playing that way. He played confident, and I like that."

Up next: vs. Minnesota (5-4-1)


Record: 5-4-1

Last week: Bye week

Headline: Vikings revolutionizing third-down defense

Minnesota's had a strong defense for a number of years now, but what they've been able to accomplish on third down has been other worldly the last two seasons.

Last season, the Vikings led the NFL by allowing a first down on third down only 25 percent of the time. They are holding teams to a 26 percent success rate this season.

Consider this, over the last 10 years, only one other team recorded a success rate under 30 percent for a season-- Houston (28) in 2015. Minnesota's done it consistently the last two seasons.

Stats pack: The Vikings blitzed Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford only five times, getting nine of their 10 sacks from their four-man front.

Quotable: "Quite honestly, we've had to change up a lot," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told ESPN of some philosophical changes this season to his defense. "For the last five weeks, probably, we've played pretty good defense. We were getting a lot of scheme things. Because we're good at what we did, people are copying it. There's a lot of teams now that are playing a style of defense similar to us.

"Now, all these offenses are attacking these defenses pretty much the same way. So, we've had to adjust and change coverages, and what we've done in the red zone. We've had to change up a lot of things that we've done. Luckily, our players have been able to execute it."

Up next: at Chicago (6-3)

The Detroit Lions hosted the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Ford Field with families from Orchards, Children's Center and Yatooma as part of the Season of Sharing campaign presented by Meijer.


Record: 4-4-1

Last week: Beat Miami, 31-12

Headline: Aaron Jones is sparking Packers' run game

The Packers have started to give the ball to Jones more. The exciting second-year running back has received double-digit carries in each of the last three games, and has averaged over 5.4 yards per carry in those contests.

This past Sunday, Jones handled a season-high 15 carries and produced a career-high 145 yards and two scores in the Packers' 31-12 win over the Dolphins.

A balanced Green Bay offense led by Rodgers, Davante Adams and Jones could be formidable for opposing defenses down the stretch.

Stats pack: Through 10 weeks, Jones leads the NFL in rushing yards per attempt (6.8). He has 18 runs over 10 yards, and over 46 percent of his carries have resulted in a first down or touchdown.

Quotable: "He's a great player," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told USA Today of Jones. "We just need to continue to give him more opportunities."

Up next: at Seattle (4-5)


Record: 3-6

Last week: Lost to Chicago, 34-22

Headline: Lions not hitting panic button

It hasn't looked very good for the Lions the last three weeks in double-digit losses to Seattle, Minnesota and Chicago. The Lions have fallen to 3-6 on the year after scraping to get back to .500 (3-3) with a big win in Miami Week 7.

Detroit's struggled to score points early in games to help dictate the pace of play they want to play with. They've also struggled defensively to contain quarterbacks Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Trubisky the last three weeks.

It's a Lions team not playing well in any particular area right now, and that has to be rectified with a tough Carolina team headed to Ford Field Sunday.

Stats pack: The current stretch of three consecutive losses by 10 points or more is the first for the Lions since 2009.

Quotable: "I believe in this team and we're going to work real hard every single day," Lions head coach Patricia said Monday. "I think the guys in that room have a great understanding of what they are and what we're going to do as a team. We're not hitting the panic button right now or anything like that right now. We're just trying to get better. I think that's our biggest thing is just try get some improvement."

Up next: vs. Carolina (6-3)

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