Around the NFC North: 2023 Week 13

What's happening this week and next with the teams in the NFC North. 

It was a boring week in the NFC North. The Lions got up big early and held on. The Packers made quick work of the Chiefs. And the Vikings and Bears were (mercifully) on bye. 

Vikings

Offense

The Vikings offense has been up and down all season and mostly down lately. They started off slow, before peaking with a healthy Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, once those two got hurt, the writing was on the wall. Josh Dobbs was able to prop it up for a few miraculous weeks, but the offense is now mediocre at best and bad at worst. Jefferson is coming back, but it may be too late to matter. The run game sucks, Dobbs is turning the ball over nonstop, and Jordan Addison may have hit the rookie wall. If they're going to sneak into the playoffs, it will have to be via defense. 

The main question now for the Vikings is what do they do at QB next season? Do they stick with an aging Kirk Cousins coming off a torn Achilles? Do they reach on some like Michael Penix Jr or Jayden Daniels? If they can hit on a QB, they have a lot of other pieces. 

Defense

The defense has taken the opposite course. It wasn't great for the first few weeks and Brian Flores was blitzing at levels that would make Wink Martindale nervous, but then they settled down and are now one of the top defenses in the league running a scheme that no one else runs. They have the 8th-ranked defensive DVOA (19th offensive) and they're gaining steam each week. 

Bears

Offense

The Bears offense is meh to OK. They aren't the trash-fire-you-want-to-vomit offense they were last season. At least, they aren't every game. They've catered the offense toward Justin Fields when he's been healthy and they have a top run game thanks to that. They're still lacking in the pass game, and Bears fans might walk into traffic en masse if Luke Getsy calls another screen pass. They aren't good, but they've shown improvement. 

Like the Vikings, the Bears need to make a decision at QB this off-season. They will have the first overall pick or the ammo to get it. Do they trade down and build around Fields? Do they ditch Fields and take another QB destined to fail because he's on the Bears? 

Defense

The defense is even more meh to average, ranked 19th in DVOA. The defense has a few legitimately good players. TJ Edwards is the 11th ranked linebacker on PFF. Montez Sweat (who they traded a second-round pick for then immediately paid Rahsan Gary money) is one of the best run defending edges in the league. Jaylon Johnson is having a career year with 3 picks and a 90 PFF grade. 

Lions

The Lions held on against the Saints, 33-28.

Game Notes

  • The Lions went up 21-0 almost immediately in this game and then slowly tried to give it away. Goff broke out of his turnover funk, with no picks or fumbles but didn't exactly light it up with 215 yards on 25 attempts. 
  • The story of the day for the Lions offense was Sam LaPorta who had 9 catches for 140 yards and a TD and may already be a top-5 tight end. The Sun God also added a TD on 2 catches for 49 yards. 
  • The defense was bad again. The Saints played Derek Carr (bad), Jameis Winston (worse), and Taysom Hill (tight end) at quarterback in this game and all three of them made plays. Derek Carr basically had the same stats as Goff plus a pick. Jameis hit an insane 30-yard pass. And Taysom had 13 (!) carries for 59 yards. The Saints, admittedly, didn't do anything super well in this game, but they're the Saints, they never do anything basic well and they put up 28 points. 
  • Rookie Brian Branch had the best game statistically for the Lions with 7 tackles and a pick. 

Next Week

The Lions play the Bears again. 

Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan who recently moved form Utah to Stoughton (a Madison suberb). You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

3 points
 

Comments (6)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
T7Steve's picture

December 05, 2023 at 11:28 am

The Lions spectacular O-line is banged up and it shows. Their D is trending back to last season's mediocrity.

We need to spoil the Viqueens season by winning out and not let the Bears spoil ours.

Time to own the NFC North again.

1 points
3
2
Leatherhead's picture

December 05, 2023 at 12:22 pm

The Vikings will screw themselves in a way that cannot be unscrewed.

The Lions have peaked. They'll probably win the division, they won't advance in the playoffs.

The Bears have the league's #2 rushing defense via yards/attempt, with an average of 3.7 or something. They stuff the run, they run the ball, but they don't win. Because the NFL is a passing league.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The Bears and Vikings should both be looking for QBs, and they should take a year or two to develop them and put a team around them. But they won't. They'll panic and trade up to take this year's Ponder or Trubisky. The thing is though, this 2024 draft has several pretty good QB prospects....you could see SIX QBs with a first round grade after the combine. Obviously, not all six will go on to Hall of Fame careers, but some might. Just not the guys drafted by Chicago or Minnesota.

2 points
3
1
White92's picture

December 05, 2023 at 05:28 pm

From what I hear on radio here in Chicago, they will move on from Fields. The tire fire burns on..

1 points
1
0
Bitternotsour's picture

December 05, 2023 at 07:12 pm

And Fields will go to Baltimore and light the league on fire. Could make a strong case for him in Nashville. The Vikings will resign Cousins to the highest one year contract in NFL history, then he'll outperform it, they'll lose in the first round of the playoffs and they'll pony back up and sign him again.

1 points
1
0
Bitternotsour's picture

December 05, 2023 at 07:14 pm

because, math.

1 points
1
0
WestCoastPackerBacker's picture

December 05, 2023 at 02:15 pm

It most certainly was NOT a boring week in the North. Not with GB beating the Super Bowl Champs in Lambeau, requiring a 4th quarter defensive stop to seal the win. The excitement of that game is still with me!

2 points
2
0