As you will have noticed, the NFC North is one of football’s hottest contested divisions in the league right now. With the Packers sitting this week out on a bye, the Bears and Vikings looked to capitalise for the time being. As for the Lions, they travelled to Miami in the search of improving to an even win/loss record. Who came out on top this week? Find out below!
Lions Roar in Miami
Brock Osweiler once again got the start for the Miami Dolphins. He even put up good numbers, considering he completed 71% of his passes, throwing for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the backfield, Kenyan Drake was powerful and elusive, rushing for 72 yards and 1 touchdown. A final nod on offense for the Dolphins goes to their leading receiver in the game, Danny Amendola. He produced 84 receiving yards and 1 touchdown, proving his worth as a reliable target on his new team.
On the other hand, the defense failed to put up their end of the deal, with just 1 sack completed by Andre Branch. The failure to truly pressurise Matt Stafford was ultimately the sealing factor in the Lions’ big win, 21-32.
The Lions however, were absolutely immense. Matt Stafford was as accurate as ever, completing 18/22 passes for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns. Moreover, the run game matched his solid performance. Kerryon Johnson had his biggest performance in Honolulu Blue, amassing 158 rushing yards. Also, LeGarette Blount added to a record-breaking rushing day for the franchise with 50 yards and a touchdown.
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) October 21, 2018
The Lions’ defense was also in similar form. Their pass-rush was fairly effective with Jarrad Davis’ 7 tackles and 1 sack standing out above the rest. Ricky Jean Francois (2) and Romeo Okwara (1) both also got on the sack sheet.
The Lions progress to third in the division, leapfrogging the lowly Bears. As for the Dolphins, they sit behind the New England Patriots at 4-3.
Bears Bottom Again?!
Even I can’t believe I’ve typed that? It’s factually correct though. The Patriots’ victory over the Bears, 31-38, relegates them to the bottom of the group, despite being atop just a week ago.
Mitchell Trubisky’s potentially game-winning, 54-yard Hail-Mary pass to the 1 yard line with zero seconds on the clock probably sums up the team’s performance in this game. Simply put, they were so close, yet not close enough.
Trubisky himself was fairly inaccurate, posting a 52% pass completion rate. In spite of that, he did compile 333 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 81 rush yards and 1 rushing touchdown. However, his 2 interceptions were a large part of the reason they failed to win. Nevertheless, Trey Burton had a huge game, catching one TD pass and producing 126 receiving yards.
The defense provided numerous opportunities for their QB by turning the ball over three times. Twice with forced fumbles and once with Kyle Fuller’s interception of Tom Brady’s pass. Although, Khalil Mack was largely ineffective once more with just 1 tackle in the game.
Tom Brady was on fire again, throwing 3 touchdown passes, accumulating 277 passing yards in the process. Furthermore, a trifecta of running backs amassed 98 rushing yards collectively. Finally, Cordarelle Patterson contributed a comeback story in the game, scoring a kick-return TD after fumbling earlier on.
The Patriots’ defense was also effective in shutting down Trubisky’s pass game with Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson picking him off. Additionally, Kyle Van Noy recovered Dont’a Hightower’s blocked punt for a touchdown.
The Patriots look comfortable atop the AFC East, with a 5-2 record.
Minnesota Clash with the Jets
The Vikings looked to gain further momentum, and what better way to do so with the Packers serving their bye week.
Adam Thielen achieved a seventh consecutive 100+ receiving yard game, including catching one touchdown pass. Speaking of TD passes, Kirk Cousins produced 2 as well as composing 241 passing yards. Latavius Murray also ran in 2 touchdowns, putting forward a solid argument as a starting contender in Dalvin Cook’s absence.
"It says it all. He's a great player. Ultimately, he's a great person. It starts there in the way he approaches everything he does. I'm lucky to play with him, and the Vikings are lucky to have him." –@KirkCousins8 on @athielen19#Skol
— Minnesota Vikings (@Vikings) October 21, 2018
Despite notable defensive inactive’s including Linval Joseph, the Vikings appeared to play to the standard they hold themselves to. Harrison Smith, Trae Waynes and Holton Hill all provided interceptions in a strong defensive performance.
Conversely, the Jets were plagued with dropped passes, poor accuracy and multiple missed tackles. Sam Darnold’s completion of just 17 of 42 passes was dyer, although certainly not entirely his fault. Similarly, Powell and Crowell were unproductive from the backfield, collecting just 49 yards altogether.
As for the defense, there remains just one solid performance, coming in the form of cornerback Darryl Roberts, who totalled 11 tackles.
The Jets’ record reduces to 3-4, leaving them looking hellbent on battling it out with the Bills for last in the AFC East. The Vikings improve to the top of the NFC North, with a win/loss record of, 4-2-1.
Week 8 Approaches
The NFC North is arguably the hardest division to call at this point. That being said, the Vikings are staking their claim as the no.1 seed. Closely following are the Packers, who return in week 8 to face the undefeated Los Angeles Rams. Whilst the Detroit Lions aim to build momentum against the travelling Seattle Seahawks. Finally, the Chicago Bears, who have fallen from great heights, face the New York Jets next week and they’ll like their chances to bounce back.
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