We are half-way (Packers/Vikings) or almost half-way (Bears/Lions) through the 2019 season. Can you Belize it? It’s been one hell of a ride so far. We have flukes, refs, concentrated injuries. Let’s look at what happened so far with some stats mixed in.
Green Bay 7-1
The Packers have had an incredible start under first year head coach Matt LeFleur. Despite an injury to Davante Adams (turf toe), the Packers offense looks improved. Rodgers is 4th in QB rating (106.7) with 16 TDs and 2 interception in 8 games. Aaron Jones (466 yards at 4.1 YPC) is the key to the Packers offense. Jones has 8 rushing TDs and 3 receiving TDs. Packers defense is somewhat improved (with some flaws against good offenses). Green Bay allows 20.4 PPG which is 11th in the league. Green Bay is 6th in the league in takeaways with 14. Green Bay is 9th allowing only 86.9 QB rating. Their lone problem is allowing 4.8 YPC (28th) on the ground.
Green Bay is 3-0 in the division as they were gifted the third win by the refs on Monday Night Football in Lambeau against the Lions from six (6) flat out bad or missed calls. Minnesota gave them a game in Lambeau as well but an OPI called on Dalvin Cook cost Minnesota a win. The Packers beat the Bears in a defensive slug fest to open the entire season at Solider Field. Green Bay disposed of the Raiders, Broncos at Lambeau. Green Bay beat the Chiefs without Patrick Maholmes in KC and won impressively in Dallas despite a late Cowboys comeback. The lone blemish was in Lambeau against the Eagles on Thursday Night football with a pick at the goal line.
Marques Valdes Scantling leads the way with 420 yards and TDs. Adams has 328 yards despite only playing in 4 games. Aaron Jones adds 355 yards receiving and Allen Lazard had a huge TD catch against the Lions.
Green Bay is healthy and should get Adams back soon. Let’s see if they can hold the lead in the North.
At Chargers (3-5), Panthers (5-3), bye, at 49ers (7-0), at Giants (2-6), Washington (1-7), Chicago (3-4), at Minnesota (6-2_, at Detroit (3-3-1) should be a tougher schedule in the second half. The path is there for 11+ wins though if the offense and run game improves.
Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
Kirk Cousins is second in the league in QB rating (115.2 with 13 TDs and 3 interceptions). Dalvin Cook is a monster (823 yards at 5.3 YPC with 9 rushing TDs) and the Vikings defense is 3rd best in PPG allowed (16.5). Stefon Diggs was unhappy but has bloomed in the last 3 weeks. Thielen is having another good season but got hurt the last two games. Irv Smith has shown flashes at tight end and the Vikings offensive line is a little better than expected.
Minnesota beat bad Atlanta, Redskins and Raiders team in Minnesota. They also beat the Eagles in Minneapolis 38-20 (big win). Minnesota won in New York against rookie Daniel Jones and the Giants. Minnesota played 3 road division games already and went 1-2. Minnesota beat the Lions in shoot out at Ford Field (big win) but lost to Green Bay (Cook OPI) and at Chicago in a terrible offensive performance. Cousins was called out early after that game, but boy did he respond. Stefon Diggs is happy again and the Vikings (6-2) are right behind the Packers for first place.
Minnesota travels to KC and Dallas before hosting Denver before the bye. At Seattle, Detroit, at Chargers, Green Bay and Chicago is a tough way to end the season. Minnesota will enjoy the divisional home games but have four tough road games. The Vikings will need to win on the road to keep pace with Green Bay.
Detroit Lions 3-3-1 (tru 6-1)
What a crazy season so far in year 2 under Matt Patricia. Detroit started 2-0-1 with 3-point wins over the Chargers in Detroit and the Eagles in Philadelphia. Detroit blew an 18 point 4th Quarter lead in Arizona to tie the Cardinals in Week 1. Detroit lost to the Chiefs from a crazy at the 1-yard line returned for a TD by the Chiefs and a TD reversed on the process of the catch by Kenny Golladay (followed by a Stafford fumble in the red zone). The Lions were 2-1-1 at the bye.
Detroit marched out of the bye like a monster at Lambeau building a big lead. The Packers would come back though thanks to some crazy ref aid. Bogus penalty after penalty called on Detroit just so the Packers could win on the Monday Night football. The Lions were the better team and the national media finally recognized the egregious ref errors. Detroit didn’t respond though on defense allowing the Vikings to drop 42 points on them in Ford Field despite scoring 30 points on a good Vikings defense. Detroit did get end the 3-game losing streak with a win against the Giants in Week 8. Detroit now is 3-3-1 but lost Kerryon Johnson (knee) to IR.
Stafford is playing very well (6th in QB rating (105.3) with 16 Tds and 4 ints in 7 games). He has been getting just enough protection despite no running game (3.6 YPC). The Lions still try to run the ball more to keep defenses honest which is helping.
Kenny Golladay (508 yards and 6 TDs) and Marvin Jones (409 yards and 5 TDs) are having good years. Amendola was a nice pick up in the slot with 347 yards and 1 TD in 7 games (missing one game). TJ Hockensen had a monster debut as a rookie (131 yards) but cooled off since then for (240 yards and 2 TDs in 7 games). Marvin Hall has been a deep threat catching a deep ball in 4 straight games (5 receptions with 40.2 average). J.D. McKissic has been a nice gadget play guy as a late pickup in September from Seattle. Jesse James has been a major disappointment despite his big contract.
On defense, the Lions have had struggle in the run game. The pass defense started well in the first 3 games but have had problems the last 4 games. The pass rush has shown flashes but has lacked consistency in the first 7 weeks. DShawn Hand missed the first 6 games and Mike Daniels got hurt early Week 3 which didn’t help. Trey Flowers has been solid but needs to do more on a 90-million-dollar contract. Damon Harrison got his extension too and went from all-pro run defender to just solid with some injuries.
Jarrad Davis missed the first 2 games but has been problematic in coverage again at ILB. Jahlani Tavai has looked good for a rookie but needs better coverage and run discipline. Christian Jones is a problem on the weak-side.
Justin Coleman has been a great signing for the Lions at DB. Darius Slay has been good but injured his hamstring twice (at Eagles and Vikings game) and missed about 3 games in total because of the injuries. Rashaan Melvin started hot but has cooled off since Week 4 on a one-year deal. Strong safety Quandre Diggs played poorly then got hurt and traded for a 5th round pick. Will Harris is a rookie safety with ups and downs and Tracy Walker has been good but hurt his knee in Week 7. Tavon Wilson had one monster game but makes mistakes in coverage. The Lions need more pass rush as the secondary can’t always hold for a long-time.
Jamal Agnew had a 100-yard kick return against Philly despite fumble problems the first 2 weeks. Matt Prater is good but missed a couple big kicks. Martin has been a good punter pinning opponents inside the 20.
Detroit closes the first half of the schedule at Oakland this Sunday. Detroit travels to Chicago, hosts Dallas, travels to Washington and then host the Bears on Thanksgiving in November. Detroit travel to Minnesota, host Tampa Bay, visit Denver and host Green Bay in December. The Lions have an easier schedule in the second half of the season but must figure out how to win their division games to have a chance to get back into the NFC North race. Detroit needs more pass rush, more run defense and not to get screwed over by the refs in big divisional games.
Chicago Bears (3-4)
The Bears offense is garbage with or without Mitch Trubisky. The run game showed some signs of life and the Bears defense is still pretty good (6th PPG allowed) (not great like 2018 with the turnovers and 1st in PPG allowed). Chicago beat the Vikings at home (big win), Giants in New York and Denver in Denver on a last second FG. The Bears lost at home to Green Bay (10-3_ and to the Chargers 17-16 (on a missed last second FG). The Bears fell short against New Orleans (led by Teddy Bridgewater) in Chicago and lost in London to the Raiders. They have some big problems on offense (QB, Oline, Nagy) that they need to fix to have a shot this year.
Chicago travels to Philadelphia and then host the Lions. The Bears go to Los Angeles to play the Rams then host the Giants. Chicago plays Detroit on Thanksgiving again. Finally, the Bears welcome the Cowboys, travel to Green Bay, host the Chiefs and travel to Minnesota for probably the toughest four game stretch in the league to end the season. Chicago better get things right quickly to try to save the season before December games hit hard.