We've reached Week 10 and the midway point of the NFL season for most clubs. The pecking order in the NFC North has been clearly established up to this point. This week's NFC North column serves as a midseason report for each of the four teams in the division:
Wins: Minnesota (43-34), Detroit (42-21), New Orleans (37-30), Atlanta (30-16), Houston (35-20), San Francisco (34-17)
Losses: Tampa Bay (38-10), Minnesota (28-22)
Remaining schedule: vs. Jacksonville (1-7), at Indianapolis (5-3), vs. Chicago (5-4), vs. Philadelphia (3-4-1), at Detroit (3-5), vs. Carolina (3-6), vs. Tennessee (6-2), at Chicago (5-4)
Record of remaining opponents: 31-35-1
What went right first half: The most important statistic in football is the number of turnovers a team gives up, and the Packers have been terrific the first half of the season holding on to the football. Green Bay has lost just one fumble and thrown only two interceptions in eight games. Their three total giveaways are the fewest in the NFL up to this point in the season.
The fact that Green Bay has also scored the third most points in the NFL up to this point is critical too. Green Bay scores points and doesn't turn the ball over. That's a recipe for success in this league.
What needs to get better: Opposing passers have a 106.5 passer rating against the Packers this year, which ranks Green Bay 30th in that category. Green Bay's played some pretty good passing offenses so far this season – New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Atlanta to name a few – but Packers defensive coaches would no-doubt like to see that number get lower the second half of the season. Opponents have passed for 13 touchdowns and thrown just three interceptions against the Packers this season.
Wins: Detroit (27-23), New York Giants (17-13), Atlanta (30-26), Tampa Bay (20-19), Carolina (23-16)
Losses: Indianapolis (19-11), Los Angeles Rams (24-10), New Orleans (26-23), Tennessee (24-17)
Remaining schedule: vs. Minnesota (3-5), bye, at Green Bay (6-2), vs. Detroit (3-5), vs. Houston (2-6), at Minnesota (3-5), at Jacksonville (1-7), vs. Green Bay (6-2)
Record of remaining opponents: 24-32
What went right first half: There's probably no team in the NFL that relies on one side of the ball more than the Bears do with their defense. Chicago has the best red-zone defense in football, the league's No. 1 defense on third down, and they're top 10 in points allowed. They could create a few more turnovers (rank 20th), but now we're just nitpicking. This is a playoff-caliber defense.
What needs to get better: Offensively, Chicago has been a mess all year. They're on their second quarterback in Nick Foles, and the Bears rank 29th in total offense, 28th in points scored, 32nd in rushing and 21st in passing. They rank 29th in scoring efficiency. The Bears have their bye in two weeks, so maybe that will help them to take a step back and evaluate what hasn't been working on that side of the ball.
Chicago also leads the NFL in penalties with 63.
Wins: Houston (31-23), Green Bay (28-22), Detroit (34-20)
Losses: Green Bay (43-24), Indianapolis (28-11), Tennessee (31-30), Seattle (27-26), Atlanta (40-23)
Remaining schedule: at Chicago (5-4), vs. Dallas (2-7), vs. Carolina (3-6), vs. Jacksonville (1-7), at Tampa Bay (6-3), vs. Chicago (5-4), at New Orleans (6-2), at Detroit (3-5)
Record of remaining opponents: 31-38
What went right first half: The Vikings are third in the NFL in rushing (1,283 yards) and their 15 rushing touchdowns rank second. Vikings running back Dalvin Cook, fresh off a 206-yard performance against the Lions Week 9, leads the NFL in rushing with 858 yards, and his 12 rushing touchdowns are three more than the next highest (Todd Gurley, 9).
What needs to get better: Turnovers have been an issue for the Vikings. Quarterback Kirk Cousins has 10 interceptions already and the Vikings as a team have turned it over 12 times. The Vikings are seeing 16 percent of their drives end in a turnover, which is the sixth highest percentage in the NFL.
Wins: Arizona (26-23), Jacksonville (34-16), Atlanta (23-22)
Losses: Chicago (27-23), Green Bay (42-21), New Orleans (29-35), Indianapolis (41-21), Minnesota (34-20)
Remaining schedule: vs. Washington (2-6), at Carolina (3-6), vs. Houston (2-6), at Chicago (5-4), vs. Green Bay (6-2), at Tennessee (6-2), vs. Tampa Bay (6-3), vs. Minnesota (3-5)
Record of remaining opponents: 33-34
What went right first half: The Lions have relied on some young players to play key roles the first half of the season. Second-year tight end T.J. Hockenson is among them, and he's really burst onto the scene with five touchdowns in the team's first eight contests. He's caught a touchdown in four of Detroit's last five contests. He's on pace for 68 receptions, 720 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
What needs to get better: Detroit's allowed the seventh most points (240), seventh most passing touchdowns (17), fourth most rushing yards (1,185) and the most rushing touchdowns (13) in the NFL up to this point. The rushing defense has been the biggest issue. The Lions have allowed 250+ rushing yards in a game twice this season.
The defense hasn't been good enough consistently enough, and with an offense that ranks middle of the pack in most major categories, that side of the ball hasn't been able to make up for the deficiencies on defense up to this point.