NFC NORTH: Midseason report for all four teams

We've reached Week 9 and the midway point of the NFL season. The pecking order in the NFC North has been clearly established to this point. This week's NFC North column serves as a midseason report for each of the four teams in the division:


Record: 7-1

Wins: at Chicago (10-3), vs. Minnesota (21-16), vs. Denver (27-16), at Dallas (34-24), vs. Detroit (23-22), vs. Oakland (42-24), at Kansas City (31-24)

Losses: vs. Philadelphia (34-27)

Remaining schedule: at Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), vs. Carolina (4-3), Bye week, at San Francisco (7-0), at New York Giants (2-6), vs. Washington (1-7), vs. Chicago (3-4), at Minnesota (6-2), at Detroit (3-3-1)

Record of remaining opponents: 29-30-1

What went right first half: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the Packers' offense seem very comfortable in head coach Matt LaFleur's new scheme. That side of the ball has been clicking for about a month now. Green Bay is seventh in scoring (26.9 ppg) and eighth in passing (271.9).

Running backs Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams are a nice duo in the backfield. And just think, the Packers are 7-1 having played half their season without Pro Bowl wide receiver Davante Adams because of turf toe.

What needs to get better: Green Bay's kick and coverage units are among the league's worst. Green Bay's defense can also stand to be better defending the run, especially with the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Tevin Coleman, Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook on the schedule. Green Bay ranks 24th in run defense, allowing 123.8 yards per game.


Record: 6-2

Wins: vs. Atlanta (28-12), vs. Oakland (34-14), at New York Giants (28-10), vs. Philadelphia (38-20), at Detroit (42-30), vs. Washington (19-9)

Losses: at Green Bay (21-16), at Chicago (16-6)

Remaining schedule: at Kansas City (5-3), at Dallas (4-3), vs. Denver (2-6), at Seattle (6-2), vs. Detroit (3-3-1), at Los Angeles Chargers (3-5), vs. Packers (7-1), vs. Bears (3-4)

Record of remaining opponents: 33-27-1

What went right first half: The Vikings can run the football (160.1 ypg) and they play good defense (ranked eighth or higher in every major statistical category). That will allow them to be in every game they play. Minnesota is one of the more balanced teams in the league. They're third in total offense (396.5) and fifth in total defense (313.9).

What needs to get better: Minnesota has gotten into trouble this year when they've been careless with the football. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has two interceptions and a lost fumble, and Minnesota had four turnovers total, in the loss to the Packers Week 2. The Vikings lost two fumbles in their Week 4 loss in Chicago.

Minnesota has lost seven fumbles on the year. Only Carolina (8), Philadelphia (9) and the New York Giants (10) have lost more. The Vikings have 10 total turnovers on the year.


Record: 3-3-1

Wins: vs. Los Angeles Chargers (13-10), at Philadelphia (27-24), vs. New York Giants (31-26)

Losses: vs. Kansas City (34-30), at Green Bay (23-22), vs. Minnesota (42-30)

Tie: at Arizona (27-27)

Remaining schedule: at Oakland (3-4), at Chicago (3-4), vs. Dallas (4-3), at Washington (1-7), vs. Chicago (3-4), at Minnesota (6-2), vs. Tampa Bay (2-5), at Denver (2-6), vs. Green Bay (7-1)

Record of remaining opponents: 31-36

What went right first half: Quarterback Matthew Stafford is playing some of the best football of his career and has Detroit's passing offense ranked top five in the NFL at the midway point of the season. Stafford has a passer rating of 105.3, which is sixth best in the NFL, and Detroit's had at least one 100-yard receiver in every game this year.

What needs to get better: Across the board, Detroit's defense has been a disappointment through the first seven games of the season. The Lions rank 31st in total defense, 32nd in pass defense, 26th against the run and 26th in points allowed. It's been a really inconsistent effort from that side of the ball all season. Detroit has 12 takeaways on the year, which has been the saving grace for that defense so far.


Record: 3-4

Wins: at Denver (16-14), at Washington (31-15), vs. Minnesota (16-6)

Losses: vs. Green Bay (10-3), at Oakland (24-21), vs. New Orleans (36-25), vs. Los Angeles Chargers (17-16)

Remaining schedule: at Philadelphia (4-4), vs. Detroit (3-3-1), at Los Angeles Rams (5-3), vs. New York Giants (2-6), at Detroit (3-3-1), vs. Dallas (4-3), at Green Bay (7-1), vs. Kansas City (5-3), at Minnesota (6-2)

Record of remaining opponents: 39-28-2

What went right first half: Chicago's defense remains as good as ever. That unit is seventh in total defense (316.6) and sixth in points allowed (17.4). In fact, the Bears have allowed only two opponents (Oakland and New Orleans) to score 20 or more points all season.

What needs to get better: Offensively, the Bears don't rank better than 26th in any major statistical category. Chicago has no identity on offense and can't run the football (83.1 ypg). Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky has just five touchdown passes on the season and an 81.4 passer rating. He's been sacked 14 times.

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