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Checking in on the NFC North after two weeks

What are the early games around the division saying for Minnesota?

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Minnesota Vikings
Justin Jefferson celebrates last season’s NFC North triumph.
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

We’re now two weeks into the NFL Season with the conclusion of yesterday’s Monday night contests and, safe to say, it’s been a wild ride of a season so far for not just your Vikings, but many others around the league.

The 0-2 record the Vikings possess is far from ideal, especially considering the effect of frustrating crucial turnovers and penalties. There is no ‘good’ way to lose but it has been particularly painful knowing that we had a shot at winning both games. We didn’t get blown against an Eagles team that is still in its window of Super Bowl contention.

Both losses felt like a ‘drop’ from a wideout to move the sticks. A tough look for sure, but there is nothing to do but move on.

Thankfully for the Vikings’ sake the other teams in the NFC north have had a similar amount of ‘drops’, while one of the teams looks like it is not going to be leaving the NFL’s cellar soon. Here’s a look at the NFC North from most to least likely to take the division from the current kings in the north.

#1 - Detroit Lions

As expected, the Motor City Kitties started off by walking into Arrowhead and handing the defending Super Bowl champions an L. Just kidding, that wan’t really expected at all. After stealing that game right out of Kadarius Toney’s hands, Detroit had made a big impression on not just their division aspirations but their league aspirations as well.

It was a statement win from a team that was the hottest in the league to round out last season.

Even after an overtime loss against a tough (yet often overlooked, thanks 49’ers) Seahawks team, Detroit is still looking like the tougher draw than the Packers. You can thank the still-resurgent Jared Goff (576 yds, 4 TDs, 1 pick) and Amon Ra-St. Brown connection, along with one of the league’s more intimidating pass rushers in Aidan Hutchinson.

This team is also playing without Jameson Williams, who is set to return from suspension after serving a 6 game suspension. Giving Goff another weapon will not make this team worse.

#2 - Green Bay Packers

The jury is still out on our biggest rivals, and judging the Cheeseheads off two pretty different types of games is a tough thing to attempt this early on in the season.

On one hand, they crushed the Bears 38-20 in a game that didn’t even feel that close. Jordan Love went for 245 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 picks, but I can’t help but think that Love and the Packers’ season opening success was more a product of Chicago’s ineptitude. More on that later.

The other result was a 25-24 loss to the Falcons on the road. Love passed for nearly a hundred less yards in this contest than in Week 1, but still scored 3 TDs and zero picks. All 6 of Love’s TDs have come through the air to 4 different receivers in the absence of Christian Watson, who is having some hamstring trouble. It is unclear when Watson will return to the lineup.

I don’t expect to get a clearer picture on the Packers (barring any major injury to a star player) until they play the Lions at the end of the month. That game will be very crucial in determining which of the two will be stepping up to try and take the Viking’s throne.

#3 - Chicago Bears

This is a franchise that is not going anywhere fast. They have had two very noncompetitive losses in the aforementioned Packers loss and then a 10-point dismantling (again, not as close as even the score would suggest) from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hey, at least they were kind enough to not just do it to the Vikings.

I don't have much to say about the Bears besides the fact that many of their fans are now openly stating that they believe Justin Fields is not the guy for Chicago’s future. That sentiment should tell you many things about where this franchise is at, especially after trading away the top pick in last year’s draft. The Bears defense is just as pitiful as the offense and I’m not sure that we’ll see Chicago even threaten the division leaders.

What do you think of the Viking’s opportunity to rebound and start making progress in the NFC North’s standings, especially as no one has cemented themselves as the clear-cut leader so far?