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NFC NORTH: Where all four teams stand heading into Week 8

We are closing in on the midway point of the season and the pecking order in the NFC North is starting to become clearer. Here's where all four teams stand in the NFC North heading into Week 8:


Record: 5-2

Last week: Lost to Baltimore, 38-6

Up next: vs. Las Vegas (3-4)

Wins: at Kansas City (21-20), vs. Atlanta (20-6), at Green Bay (34-20), vs. Carolina (42-24), at Tampa Bay (20-6)

Losses: vs. Seattle (37-31 OT), at Baltimore (38-6)

What's going right: Despite a bit of a hiccup in Baltimore Sunday Detroit's offense, particularly their passing game, continues to be elite led by quarterback Jared Goff. Detroit's ability to push the ball down the field in the passing game has been particularly effective to start the year. The Lions' 32 completions of 20-plus yards leads the NFL and their seven touchdown passes from 20-plus also leads the league.

What needs to improve: Sacks aren't the end-all be-all stat defensively but Sunday's loss in Baltimore showed just how important finishing the pass rush and creating some of those drive-wrecking sacks can be. The Lions have the second highest hurry percentage in the NFL at 11.6 percent, per Pro Football Reference, but 17 teams have more sacks than the Lions' 15, and 14 teams have knocked down the quarterback more times than Detroit has.

Twentyman: Detroit is still in very good shape despite a deflating loss in Baltimore Sunday. They got a little bit of humble pie thrown their way and the most important thing now will be how they respond this week coming back home to play Las Vegas on Monday Night Football. The Lions are currently tied for the second best record in the NFC and lead the division by two games over the Vikings.


Record: 3-4

Last week: Beat San Francisco, 22-16

Up next: at Green Bay (2-4)

Wins: at Carolina (21-13), at Chicago (19-13), vs. San Francisco (22-16)

Losses: vs. Tampa Bay (20-17), at Philadelphia (34-28), vs. Los Angeles Chargers (28-24), vs. Kansas City (27-20)

What's going right: Quarterback Kirk Cousins is playing at an elite level. His 101.7 passer rating is the fourth best in the NFL and he guided the Vikings to a big win Monday night over San Francisco. Cousins is completing 68.9 percent of his passes with 16 touchdowns (leads NFL) and five interceptions.

What needs to improve: Minnesota needs to take better care of the football if they are going to make a run and tighten things up in the NFC North race. Their 14 turnovers are tied with Cleveland for the second most in the NFL behind only Las Vegas (15).

Twentyman: The Vikings look to be the biggest threat to Detroit's division title hopes mainly because of Cousins and the weapons they have on offense. Cousins will stand in the pocket, stare down the rush and deliver the football like he did Monday against the 49ers. They have enough weapons on that side of the ball when wide receiver Justin Jefferson returns to beat anyone on any given Sunday.


Record: 2-4

Last week: Lost to Denver, 19-17

Up next: vs. Minnesota (3-4)

Wins: at Chicago (38-20), vs. New Orleans (18-17)

Losses: at Atlanta (25-24), vs. Detroit (34-20), at Las Vegas (17-13), at Denver (19-17)

What's going right: Despite a bunch of injuries to their secondary the Packers continue to play pretty good pass defense. They've allowed the third fewest passing yards in the NFL and the six passing touchdowns allowed in six games are tied for the second fewest in the league.

What needs to improve: Packers quarterback Jordan Love is completing just 57.5 percent of his passes through six games with a passer rating of 79.4 (26th in NFL). Since Week 3 he's thrown four touchdowns vs. seven interceptions and the Packers are 1-3 over that stretch.

Twentyman: Outside of their 14-point loss to Detroit, the Packers have lost their three other games by a combined seven points. They've struggled offensively to get off to good starts and make the key plays down the stretch. Green Bay has now scored just six points total in the first half of the last four games. If they want to stay in the hunt in the North, they need to fix some of their issues on offense.


Record: 2-5

Last week: Defeated Las Vegas, 30-12

Up next: at Los Angeles Chargers (2-4)

Wins: at Washington (40-20), vs. Las Vegas (30-12)

Losses: vs. Green Bay (38-20), at Tampa Bay (27-17), at Kansas City (41-10), vs. Denver (31-28), vs. Minnesota (19-13)

What's going right: Chicago is one of the better rushing teams in the NFL to start the season averaging 141.3 yards per game on the ground. That total is the fifth best in the NFL. They are netting 4.8 yards per carry and lead the NFL in runs of 10-plus yards (32).

What needs to improve: The Bears need to find a way to better protect their quarterback, whether that's Justin Fields or Tyson Bagent. The 27 sacks they've allowed ranks 30th in the NFL ahead of only Washington (40) and the New York Giants (37).

Twentyman: It was a nice win by the Bears over Las Vegas last week as a loss would have really put them behind in the division race. There might not be another team in the league that runs as hot and cold as the Bears on a week-to-week basis. If they can find a way to be a little more consistent defensively – they have the league's 29th ranked defense that's given up the fourth most points – Chicago has shown they can be explosive offensively and score points.

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