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Vikings NFC North Rivals: News and Notes, Week 8

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I read up on our division opponents so you don’t have to!

Detroit Lions v Miami Dolphins Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Did you ever wake up on a Monday morning, peel open your eyes, muster the will to lift your head from the pillow and wonder “what the hell happened this weekend?” That has to be the feeling Chicago Bears fans had this Monday. As of Sunday morning, the Bears were cruising along at the top of the division, with a shiny new toy on the defensive side of the ball, a dashing young quarterback running the offense behind a wunderkind head coach, and they held sole possession of first place in the NFC North. When that collective head lifted from the pillow on Monday, Bears fans found their team dead last in the division.

The Bears lost in excruciating manner, as Mitchell Trubisky launched a Hail Mary as time expired against the New England Patriots. Kevin White - the former first-round pick whose professional career has been marred by near-constant injury - leaped high above the defenders and hauled in the pass… and was tackled a yard short of the end zone. That stop sealed the New England Patriots 38-31 victory. The Bears now sit at 3-3, last in the division. #sadface

In Miami, the Detroit Lions were in no mood for lederhosen, and spoiled Brocktoberfest for everyone by defeating Brock Osweiler and the Dolphins 32-21. Kerryon Johnson gained 158 yard on the ground - the Lions’ highest total in 21 years - and Matthew Stafford was efficient, if nothing else. The Lions improved their record to 3-3 with their first road win of the season, and pulled into third place in the division. The Lions find themselves at 3-3, good for third in the division, ahead of the Bears based on the Bears division record.

The Green Bay Packers (3-2-1) were on a bye this week.

Chicago Bears

In a strange twist, Bears fans are now calling for more playing time and touches for the aforementioned Kevin White. Before the Hail Mary, White had one reception for ten yards. A quick recap of White’s career stats shows that in three years, he’s now caught 23 passes for 257 yards and zero touchdowns. I used the comparison earlier in the year, but Laquon Treadwell’s stats over that same period are 43/406/1. Somehow, I just don’t see Vikings fans being quite as frothed up over Treadwell as Bears fans are over White.

Pro Football Weekly points out that the Bears Pass rush has gone away. Star linebacker Khalil Mack injured his ankle in the Bears game versus the Dolphins in week six, and has been ineffective since, notching no sacks, forced fumbles, or interceptions. But Mack isn’t the only problem. Leonard Floyd has yet to notch a sack on the season. Other than linebacker Roquan Smith’s sack of Tom Brady on Sunday, the team hasn’t gotten to the quarterback since week five.

If you like cool animation, Mitchell Trubisky was the man for you on Sunday, notching two runs which covered 39 yards and 8 yards officially. Unofficially, the runs covered a total of 137 yards. First, the 8-yard touchdown run.

Then his near-touchdown.

Running Back Tarik Cohen has put up some fairly impressive statistics for the Bears - especially in the passing game, where he is undoubtedly more effective. So far this season, he is second on the team in receptions with 29, yards, with 328, and total touches, with 67. Head Coach Matt Nagy seems to be recognizing this, as Cohen’s snap count this week reflects:

Not-afraid-to-make-a-prediction Prediction: The 3-3 Bears take on the 3-4 Jets in a matchup only a mother could love. Bears win by six.

Detroit Lions

One of the Lions’ strengths coming in to the season (oh God, I can feel the comments coming already) was their offensive line. Led by tackles Taylor Decker and Ricky Wagner, the team bolstered the line by adding Chanhassen, Minnesota’s own Frank Ragnow - a player many Vikings fans wanted desperately to see fall to the Vikings at pick number 30. Well, Ragnow has developed faster than perhaps anyone could have predicted, earning Player of the Week honors from FMIA’s Peter King. Check out the block that Ragnow puts on the Dolphins defender on this play (hint: Ragnow is the one driving his man towards the yellow line):

Another Lions rookie who has shown he belongs is defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand (no relation). Hand was taken in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, twelve picks after the Vikings took defensive end Jalyn Holmes. The Alabama product the highest rated rookie D-Lineman according to the folks at PFF.

The Lions now have another big defensive lineman to pair with Hand, as they acquired Damon “Snacks” Harrison from the Giants on Monday for a fifth round pick. Fans are… uhh… excited!

From the “All he does is catch touchdowns” department, Lions tight end Michael Roberts pulled into a virtual tie with Vikings receiver Aldrick Robinson. Roberts and Robinson both have four catches on the season with three of them for touchdowns. Roberts caught two of his touchdowns on Sunday versus the Dolphins.

Not-afraid-to-make-a-prediction Prediction: The Lions host the 3-3 Seattle Seahawks. Conventional wisdom tells us never bet to stop a streak, but I’ve never even been to a convention. Despite their recent play, this game has all the feels of a Lions letdown game. The Seahawks win in a fluky way.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers come out of their bye week healthier than they’ve been in some time. Aaron Rodgers is still rehabbing the portion of his knee affected by flesh-eating disease, but said he expects to return to practice this week.

And, honestly… that’s literally ALL the Packers news right now. That’s it. Aaron Rodgers is back at practice. Seriously, folks. Isn’t there anything interesting going on with the team right now? I’ve spent wayyyyy too much time this week looking around the interwebz for something - anything - interesting to write about this team, and frankly I’m done. This complete lack of news or notes is probably the reason that my Twitter feed is full of things like the following:

That’s, uhh… that’s pretty neat.

Not-afraid-to-make-a-prediction Prediction: I’m not sure that I’m going for the reverse-psychology angle here, or not. But I think the Packers actually beat the Rams on Sunday afternoon. Close, but I think they do. Here’s hoping I’m wrong!