Thu, 22 Oct 2020

NFC NORTH: Where each team stands 2 weeks into the season

Detroit Lions
24 Sep 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

After just two weeks of the 2020 NFL season, we're already seeing an early separation between teams in the NFC North. Green Bay and Chicago have jumped out to 2-0 starts to begin the season, while Detroit and Minnesota have yet to record a win.

Here's where things stand in the NFC North after the first two weeks of the season:

GREEN BAY

Record: 2-0

Last week: Green Bay 42, Detroit 21

Next week: at New Orleans (1-1)

Division record: 2-0

Key stat: The Packers' offense has scored 76 points through the first two weeks, which is tops in the NFL, and three more points than Seattle (73), who has the second most points scored so far. The NFL average through the first two weeks is 47 points scored by offenses around the league.

Quotable: "I like where we're at," quarterback Aaron Rodgers told the Green Bay Press Gazette after Sunday's win vs. Detroit. "I knew we were at a different place starting this year than last year, even though we didn't have the offseason program and OTAs, and training camp was different. I really felt better about my feel within the offense and what we on paper had talked about doing. A lot of stuff has played itself out in the first two weeks."

Twentyman: Green Bay's offense is humming early on in their second year in Matt LaFleur's scheme. They have the perfect back in Aaron Jones for their zone running scheme. He really opens up the offense. Jones rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 68 yards and another score in the win over Detroit Sunday. Rodgers has six touchdowns and no interceptions, and his 119.4 passer rating ranks fifth through the first two weeks. He's looking like an MVP candidate early on.

Green Bay's defense can get to the quarterback, and their young secondary is only going to get better. Early on in 2020, Green Bay looks to be the team to beat in the division.

CHICAGO

Record: 2-0

Last week: Chicago 17, New York Giants 13

Next week: at Atlanta (0-2)

Division record: 1-0

Key stat: The Bears rank 28th in the NFL in passing, averaging just over 191 yards through the air after two weeks. But the Bears are making up for their early deficiencies in the passing attack by averaging 142 yards rushing over that span, which ranks in the Top 10 in the league. Running the ball effectively, limiting turnovers and playing pretty good defense has been a recipe for success for the Bears in the past.

Quotable: "I think it's good because we're a hungry team, and we know what we're capable of to play four quarters," Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky told the Chicago Sun-Times after completing 18 of 28 passes for 190 yards and a 78.0 passer rating vs. the Giants Sunday. "And when you play really well in the first half and put up 17 points and then don't get any points in the second half, that's a little frustrating.

"We have a little higher expectation for what we're trying to do on offense this year. But you have to be happy with the win. We battled through, and we're proud of that, but we still have a ways to go."

Twentyman: It's been a weird couple of games for the Bears. They had to fight back to score 21 points in the fourth quarter Week 1 to beat Detroit. They jumped out to a hot start offensively vs. the Giants Week 2, but had to hold on at the end. It hasn't been pretty by any means, but 2-0 is 2-0.

David Montgomery looks to be a rising star at running back, and this is a defense that's starting to get healthy, which can be a bad sign for future opponents. The Bears are finding ways to win, which is good, but they'll need to be more consistent on offense if they're going to give Green Bay a run for their money.

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DETROIT

Record: 0-2

Last week: Green Bay 42, Detroit 21

Next week: at Arizona (2-0)

Division record: 0-2

Key stat: Detroit is one of only two teams (Houston) who have yet to record a takeaway. The Lions have turned the ball over twice on offense, leading to 14 points for their opponents. Detroit's minus-two turnover differential is tied for 25th in the NFL.

Quotable: "Yeah, I mean, obviously we've got a lot of work to do. And we've got to be consistent in what we're doing and we've got to get it coached up better and understand the techniques and improve all the way around," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said of Detroit's early season run defense, which has allowed 408 rushing yards in the first two games.

"It's early in the year, but it's still got to be good. We've got to do a better job with what we're doing right now, especially to come out and start the second half. You know, those plays can happen when you've got a dangerous back like that (Aaron Jones rushing for 75-yard TD on opening play of second half), but we need to do a better job being ready to go."

Twentyman: It's been a tough start all the way around for Detroit, in really every phase of the game except for punting. The offense is stalling out at critical moments, and the defense hasn't been able to contain the run or come up with enough crucial stops. It's still early, but with a 2-0 Arizona Cardinals team up next, and an explosive New Orleans Saints team visiting Ford Field Week 4, Detroit has to fix their mistakes and do it quickly, or they'll find themselves in too big of an early hole to climb out of.

MINNESOTA

Record: 0-2

Last week: Indianapolis 28, Minnesota 11

Next week: vs. Tennessee (2-0)

Division record: 0-1

Key stat: The Vikings are converting on third down just 33.3 percent of the time through their first two contests. That's tied for 28th in the NFL. The league average is more than 10 percentage points higher at 43.4. It's also worth pointing out that Minnesota's 171.5 net passing yards per game are the lowest in the NFL through two weeks.

Quotable: "This team has kind of been built on controlling the time of possession, playing great in the red zone and on third downs, and we haven't been doing that very well," Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune Sunday. "We're going to have to get back to work and try to figure out what's wrong because the identity of this team has not been what it has been for the last six years."

Twentyman: Zimmer said it pretty well. We've been so used to the Vikings being able to run the football and control tempo, and then be explosive in their play-action pass game off of that. We haven't seen any of that through the first two weeks. Defensively, the Vikings lost a number of starters in free agency, but there's still enough star power there that they should be better on that side of the ball than we're seeing early on.

Sunday was the first time the Colts had a 100-yard rusher (Jonathan Taylor) and 100-yard receiver (Mo Allie-Cox) in the same game since 2010. Indianapolis ran for 151 yards against the Vikings Sunday. Next up is the 2-0 Titans with their potent running attack and pretty stout defense.

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