NFC North Roundup – The Bears Clinch, Vikings Still Alive

NFC North Roundup – The Bears Clinch, Vikings Still Alive
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Week 15 brought with it action on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday night. It set up for one of the biggest weeks in the season, as all four NFC North franchises featured. Moreover, week 15 signalled the end of an 8 year championship drought, as the Bears defeated the Green Bay Packers to become NFC North Champions. In other results, the Vikings kept their playoff hopes alive with a huge win against the Dolphins. To conclude the North’s results, the Lions were defeated by the Bills in an embarrassing loss. 

Da Bears Clinch The North

The Bears welcomed the Green Bay Packers to chilly Soldier Field, and clinched the divisional crown by the score of 24-17.

Mitchell Trubisky became the first quarterback since 2010 to win the NFC North title for the Bears yesterday. Not only did he do that, but he also performed exceptionally well. He connected on 22 of 28 throws for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns, and surrendered 0 interceptions. The latter statistic is even more impressive, especially after his 3 interception game last week. 

Aiding him in the run game was Jordan Howard. He collected 60 yards on 19 carries and also notched a touchdown in the game. In addition, Tarik Cohen had 5 carries for 21 yards in a surprisingly unproductive day on the ground. He did, however, catch one TD pass which gave the Bears the opening score. 

On defence, Khalil Mack garnered player of the day awards with 6 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Also, Eddie Jackson came up big, again, with 6 tackles and an interception of his own. 

Playoff Hopes Packed In

The Green Bay Packers would have felt they were in control of their own destiny. Yet, even with Aaron Rodgers, they still were slain by the Bears. 

The aforementioned Rodgers performed very poorly for the calibre of player he is. Not only did he did he complete just 59.5% of his passes but he failed to score a TD pass and threw an interception. Moreover, he missed wide open targets on numerous occasions. This inconsistency has completely plagued his season all year long and will go down in history as a season to forget for one of the all time greats. 

Of course, Aaron Jones’ injury did not help in the slightest either. Jamaal Williams assumed the vacated spot and rushed for 55 yards and 1 TD on 12 carries. 

The Packer’s receivers all produced good numbers; with Devante Adams being the pick of the bunch. He rushed for 119 yards on 8 catches, averaging 14.9 yards per reception. 

Ultimately, the loss can be narrowed down to futile defensive pressure. 

As evidence, the Packers only amassed 1 sack, whilst they also forced just 5 stoppages of Bears offence. That, coupled with Rodgers’ poor quarterbacking subsequently posed little threat in the end. 

Lacklustre Lions Once Again

Both the Bills and the Lions were playing for pride in what was a game that had nothing on the line. With that in mind, the Lions still couldn’t get the job done, as they were defeated, 14-13. 

Matthew Stafford performed to a strong standard statistically with 208 yards and 1 TD on 22 throws. Despite that, he was still unable to carry his team over the line on multiple occasions. On the other hand, he and the offence did provide an opportunity to take the lead, but Matt Prater missed the FG halfway through the fourth quarter. 

Oppositely, Kenny Golladay had a career-day with 146 receiving yards in the game. That being a career high. Furthermore, with just 7 receptions, he averaged 20.9 yards per catch. 

On defence, the Lions executed well. Not only did they force 6 punts, but they also performed well in coverage. Jarrad Davis lead the team in tackles with 9, whilst Devon Kennard contributed the Lions’ only sack. 

Buffalo Brilliance (At Times) 

Josh Allen demonstrated a lot of the key skills that touted him as a dynamic talent in the draft. He showed his power-arm to an extent with 204 yards and a touchdown in the pass game. As well as that, he earned a big PI call on a deep ball which would’ve been a touchdown. Additionally, Allen rushed 9 times for just 18 yards, although he managed to secure a touchdown with one rush. 

Unbelievably, both LeSean McCoy and Chris Ivory were ruled out of action for yesterday’s game. Then, the starter for the game, Marcus Murphy, went down injured. In spite of all of that, the Bills still rushed for 117 yards collectively. 

Another standout performance came from an unlikely source, that source being Robert Foster. He produced his third ever plus 100-yard game with 108 yards and a TD on 4 receptions. 

Defensively, the Bills experienced very little success in sacking the quarterback. That said, Jordan Poyer lead the team with 11 tackles in his best performance yet in upstate New York. 

Playoff Hunt Still Alive 

The Vikings ramped up their playoff charge with a dominating 41-17 victory over the Dolphins. 

With the exit of John DeFilippo, Kevin Stefanski finally cracked the code of the offence. The biggest achievement being running the ball, finally. Dalvin Cook was immense as he rushed for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 carries. As well as that, Latavius Murray rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown too. The run game was almost non-existent under DeFilippo, and to see it flourish, must make Viking fans hopeful for the future. 

Kirk Cousins bounced back from another primetime defeat with a 66.6% completion rate. He threw for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns, but conceded an interception. 

On defence, the Vikings were scarily good. Both Danielle Hunter and Anthony Barr nailed 2 sacks apiece. The latter was also the leading tackler with 7 tackles on the day. The sack list was also bolstered by Kendricks, Alexander, Griffen, Richardson and Weatherly, who all notched one each. 

Miracle in Miami – Mauling in Minnesota 

The Miami Dolphins, with their playoff hopes in-tact, fell to the Vikings in an embarrassing defeat. 

The O-line capitulated at least once per possession. This capitulation provided little to no room for Tannehill to operate within, thus he compiled just 108 yards. 

In terms of the ground game, Kalen Ballage rushed for 123 yards and 1 touchdown in Frank Gore’s absence. His injury has been revealed to be a broken foot, which could spell the end of his lengthy career. 

Defensively, the Fins couldn’t force a stop all day long. They were completely inept against the run and were often beaten in the air. The only plausible positive on defence for the Dolphins was Minkah Fitzpatrick who captured the only interception. 

The defeat renders their playoff hopes largely hopeless in the AFC, and signals the end of a poor season in Miami.

A Look Into The Future

Week 16 comes bearing gifts for the North. In the early Sunday game, the Vikings travel to Detroit in the hopes of securing their playoff place. The Packers, who’s playoff chances are mathematically over, face the Jets in New York. Finally, the Bears travel to San Francisco to take on the lowly 49ers in what should be another easy win. 

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