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NFC North Recap, Week 3: The Bears are a Mess, Plus Dramatic Finishes for the Packers and Lions

The Vikings were a little over 30 seconds away from being tied for the division lead again. Then Aaron Rodgers did his thing.

After securing a much-needed victory on Sunday against the Seahawks, the Vikings came oh-so-close to a perfect day in the NFC North.

The Lions and Bears lost earlier in the day. The 49ers had battled back from a 17-0 deficit against the Packers on Sunday Night Football, taking a 28-27 lead when Jimmy Garoppolo hit Kyle Juszczyk for a touchdown with 37 seconds left.

But scarred Vikings fans probably knew what was going to happen next. San Francisco had scored too quickly. They had left Aaron Rodgers too much time. It played out exactly as expected: Rodgers hit Davante Adams twice for 42 yards and Mason Crosby drilled a 51-yard game-winning field goal to send the Packers to their second straight primetime win.

Before we talk about the other three teams a little more, here's what the division standings look like right now:

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Look at that point differential column!

Packers win a thriller

When Green Bay was blown out 38-3 by the Saints in Week 1, it was worth wondering if they were going to struggle more this season than they had in going 26-6 over the past two years. Although they've won both games since then, I don't think this Packers team looks quite as dominant as the last two under Matt LaFleur. They trailed the Lions at halftime in Week 2 and very nearly fell to a 49ers team with a major disadvantage at quarterback.

Because Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones exist, the Packers are deservedly still the heavy favorites in the North. But the offensive line and Joe Barry's defense are serious question marks that will need to improve if Green Bay is gonna make it back to the NFC title game — or beyond. They're a great team, but Rodgers and the Packers look a bit more beatable this year.

Next three games: vs. Steelers, at Bengals, at Bears

Bears lose in historic, disastrous fashion

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The Bears finished their 26-6 loss to the Browns with one net passing yard. One.

In his first career start, rookie QB Justin Fields went 6 for 20 for 68 yards. More notably, he was sacked nine (!) times, losing 67 yards on those plays. Chicago was out-gained 418-47, went 1 for 11 on third down, averaged 1.1 yards per play, and went backwards on five of its 11 drives. It was a historically inept offensive performance.

Some of that blame goes to the offensive line for getting destroyed in pass protection and Fields for holding onto the ball too long. But the main culprit is head coach Matt Nagy, who didn't put Fields or his offense in position to succeed. The game plan wasn't tailored to what Fields did well, and the Browns capitalized by demolishing him. It's the type of poor coaching that can ruin a young QB's confidence. I don't think that'll happen with Fields, but I understand the calls for Nagy's job after a game like that.

Apparently Nagy is considering all three of Fields, Andy Dalton, and Nick Foles to start at QB next week against the Lions. This team is a mess right now and I'm very curious to see how the rest of their season unfolds.

Next three games: vs. Lions, at Raiders, vs. Packers

Lions lose a heartbreaker

Vikings fans can relate to the pain the Lions felt on Sunday when Justin Tucker hit a 66-yard field goal — the longest in NFL history — to secure a 19-17 win for the Ravens as time expired. It hit the crossbar and bounced through, because of course it did.

The Lions are now 0-3 in Dan Campbell's first season as head coach after tough losses to the 49ers, Packers, and Ravens. They were frisky and competitive in all three, especially this week, but the Lions are in for a long season. Still, the Vikings have to take them seriously in Week 5.

Next three games: at Bears, at Vikings, vs. Bengals

The Vikings' next three games are vs. Browns, vs. Lions, and at Panthers. The Packers could easily be 5-1 at that time, so the Vikings will need to be at least 3-3 heading into their bye week to remain in the hunt.

Thanks for reading. Make sure to bookmark this site and check back daily for the latest Vikings news and analysis all season long. Also, follow me on Twitter and feel free to ask me any questions on there.