Woooah we’re half way there. Whooooaaaa livin on a prayer!!! The 2017 season is half way complete. It’s been an eventful season with plenty of ups and downs for every NFC North team. Let’s take a look at how the teams stack up statistically over the first half of the season.
Aaron Rodgers only played five games but earned another plus 100 QB rating. Rodgers notched a 103.2 QB rating for 5th best in the league with 13 TDs and 3 interceptions. Brett Hundley has not fared well in his three games since taking over for Aaron. Hundley struggled with a 58.3 QB rating with 1 TD and 4 interceptions in 3 games.
Stafford started strong but fizzled a bit for three games. Stafford rebounded against Green Bay in Week 9 and moved to a 94.4 rating (13th in league). Stafford has 14 TDs and 4 interceptions with 3 of those interceptions due to his limited mobility and injury against the Saints for tipped picks. The fourth pick was due to an uncalled defensive hold for a pick 6 against the Cardinals. Stafford has been great when given time but battered way too much from Weeks 4 to Week 6. Stafford notched 7.3 YPA and 62.4% completion on the year. He is playing well but needs protection.
Case Keenum has been the surprise Vikings starter for most of the year (6.5 games). Keenum hasn’t been too bad with an 88.8 QB rating with 7 TDs and 3 interceptions. Keenum won’t win games but he is a solid game manager. Bradford played really well Week 1 but struggled against the Bears trying to return from a knee injury. Bradford has a 124.4 rating from those 1.5 games. Teddy Bridgewater has been on PUP but could return as early as Week 10 for Minnesota. Stay tuned for that QB change.
The Bears started with Mike Glennon who failed in Chicago. Glennon notched a 76.3 QB rating with 4 TDs and 5 interceptions. The Bears turned to rookie first round pick Mitch Trubisky. They have won more with Trubisky but he actually has a worse QB rating. Mitch notched a 66.3 QB rating with 2 TDs and 2 interceptions in 4 games. The Bears have a ton of weapon injuries (Meredith, White and Zach Miller) and life is tough for any Chicago QB right now.
Offensive Points Per Game
Detroit is 8th in offensive points per game scoring 25.8 on the year so far. This is aided by three defensive TDs and 2 punt return TDs by rookie Jamaal Agnew. Detroit’s offense has been solid but they had some serious red zone woes. If Detroit can finish more they will remain a top 10 or even top 5 PPG offense.
Green Bay is 11th scoring 22.6 PPG. They were much better with Rodgers of course (27.4 PPG) and have floundered with Hundley. Minnesota is 13th scoring 22.4 PPG but played good defense for that 6-2 record. Finally, the Bears are last with 16.8 PPG for 27th in the league. Chicago can’t score and their recent wins have been from scoring defensive TDS against Baltimore (Amos) and Carolina (two Eddie Jackson). Without the defensive scores, Chicago would have the worst offense in the league.
Green Bay is 5th in the league at 4.5 YPC. They can still run the ball and rookie Aaron Jones (5.3 YPC) has done well in that category but Ty Montgomery struggles with 3.4 YPC and injured ribs. Chicago is 10th with 4.3 YPC with the two headed monster in Jordan Howard (4.1 YPC) and Tarik Cohen (4.2 YPC). The Bears rely on the run game. Minnesota is 18th at 4 YPC and started really strong with rookie Dalvin Cook (4.8 YPC). Cook was injured Week 4 and it really hurt the Vikings run game since. They have gotten some contribution from Murray (3.2 YPC) and McKinnon (4.2 YPC) but it has struggled more than not. The Lions have run game issues big time. Detroit is 30th at 3.2 YPC. Abdullah (3.4 YPC) hasn’t fixed the run game as run block issues persist for the Lions along with goal line issues.
Adams has 404 yards and 5 TDs in a contract year. Nelson earned 338 yards and 6 TDs but they haven’t been the same without Aaron Rodgers. Cobb has 319 yards and 1 TD and Martellus Bennett has 233 yards and 0 TDs in 7 games for Green Bay. The Packers have the weapons but lack the QB.
Marvin Jones and Golden Tate are both on pace for over 1,000 yards this season for Detroit. Tate has 562 yards and 2 TDs with a ton of YAC. If only Tate could have scored late against Atlanta and not fumbled against the Saints and it would be a perfect first half. Marvin has been consistent this year with 515 yards and 5 TDs. TJ Jones stepped up for the injured Kenny Golladay (103 yards and 2 TDs) with 290 yards for Jones. Ebron has struggled but played better in the last two games. Ebron has only 195 yards. Theo Riddick has 266 yards and Darren Fells added three TD at tight end. Detroit has plenty of weapons for Stafford this season even with Golladay hurt.
Adam Thielen is having a good year with 627 yards and 1 TD after his contract extension. Stefon Diggs has been really good too with 422 yards and 4 TDs but missed a few games with a groin injury. Kyle Rudolph is a solid tight end with 271 yards and 3 TDs. McKinnon is a receiving threat with 203 yards too. Even Laquan Treadwell has a few catches on 21 targets with 142 yards. Minnesota needs a bit more but should improve with Diggs healthier and possibly Bridgewater back for the Vikings offense.
Chicago has had a ton of injuries. Slot man Kendall Wright leads the way with 259 yard and 1 TD. Zach Miller had 236 yards and 2 TDs but is done for the year after a gruesome injury on a TD overturned to add insult. Cohen is a receiving threat with 234 yards. The Bears lack weapons and traded for a WR from the Chargers to help.
The Bears have been sacked the least 19 times but throw the least. The Vikings have been taken down 24 times and Stafford 26 times. Finally, the Packers QBs have been sacked 27 times. There has been consistent pressure on all four teams and each team needs better pass protection and more health. The Lions and Packers have dealt with the most injuries on their offensive lines with each team dipping to 4th or 5th left tackle at points.
Taylor Decker should return to give Detroit a boost but Green Bay just lost Bulaga again. Lang and Wagner have been good and Reiff and Remmers were better than advertised for the Vikings. Greg Robinson struggled a lot to replace Decker. The Bears have a good interior and solid tackles but must improve since it takes longer for their weapons to get separation. Running the ball is the key for the Bears.
The Vikings lead the way with 24 sacks and consistent pressure. The Bears have notched 23 sacks and get decent pressure as well. Detroit started well but fizzled until Week 9. Detroit sacked the QB 16 times. The Packers have the worst pass rush with only 13 sacks and rare pressure.
Everson Griffen has 10 sacks in 8 games for the Vikings. He is having a tremendous season. Hunter notched 3 sacks but they are the players that bring most of the pressure for Minnesota.
Akiem Hicks has 7 sacks and the Bears were smart to extend him this season. Leonard Floyd has 5 sacks and the 1st round pick is improving. Pernell McPhee has 4 sacks and has returned to 2015 form. Willie Young is done for the year with 2 sacks and Goldman has 1.5 sacks from the nose tackle spot. Chicago can get pressure and their defense has won them 3 games this season out of eight.
Detroit has 5 sacks from Anthony Zettel who really stepped up for the injured Kerry Hyder. Ziggy Ansah has 4 sacks but lacks consistent pressure due to a persistent knee injury slowing him down. Ngata notched 2 sacks but tore his biceps and is done for the year. Cornelius Washington and A’Shawn Robinson get pressure but haven’t notched a sack yet. The Lions got some good blitzes to help get pressure.
Nick Perry has 4 sacks and Clay Matthews has 2.5 sacks. Daniels added 1.5 sacks for Green Bay. Josh Jones blitzed well for 2 sacks. The Packers just need their play makers to start making more plays. Their pass rush is inconsistent and it is killing their defenses on 3rd down.
Run Defense and Coverage
The Packers give up 3.9 YPC but allow a 95.9 QB rating. Detroit has had strong D despite injuries with 3.7 YPC allowed and 84.6 QB rating. Minnesota has the best defense right now allowing only 3.5 YPC and 81.2 QB rating. The Vikings have done well with a light schedule early. Chicago allows 3.9 YPC and 88.7 QB rating with good defense in the first eight games.
Minnesota is 3rd in the league allowing 16.9 PPG. Chicago is 13th with 21.4 PPG allowed. Both defense has played well but the Vikings defense is the biggest reason they are 6-2.
The Lions are 20t despite a 52-point game against the Saints with three defensive TDS scored on the Lions. The Lions have one other defensive TD score on them in Week 1 and Detroit allows 23.3 PPG due to those issues and poor games against the Falcons, Saints and Panthers on defense. Finally, the Packers are 22nd allowing 23.9 PPG and have really struggled the last few weeks.
Turnovers are a huge key to the game and a big way to win games. Detroit is 3rd in the league forcing 16 turnovers (after only forced 14 all of 2016). Detroit lost the ball 10 times with 4 interceptions and 6 fumbles. The plus six-differential is 4th best in the league. Green Bay has forced 14 turnovers to save their defense from total embarrassment. Green Bay turned it over 9 times and more with Hundley at the helm.
The Vikings have forced 10 turnovers and have lost the ball 8 times with a three fumble day dooming them against Detroit in Minnesota. The Bears forced 11 turnovers with 3 big defensive TDs to win two games (at Baltimore and Carolina). Chicago lost the ball 15 times which is a big reason they are 3-5 and last in the division.
The Vikings lead the North but have a lot of tough road games in the second half of the season. Detroit beat Minnesota in Minneapolis which gives Detroit an advantage to catch up. Thanksgiving day will be a huge matchup between Detroit and the Lions.
The Packers need to try to hold the ship without Aaron Rodgers out but it appears to be sinking with 3 losses in a row with each loss getting worse. Green Bay needs to go 3-2 until Rodgers returns. The Bears can play spoiler against the other North teams and have the run game and defense to do so.
The wildcard race will be tougher this year with a 6-3 team (Carolina) and two 5-3 teams (Seattle and Dallas) leading the charge in the wild card spot. There are three other 4-4 teams (Atlanta, Arizona and Washington). Detroit has losses to the Saints, Panthers and Falcons which could be crucial in wild card. Detroit must catch up in the division and sit well in the North with 2 road wins so far. Green Bay lost to the Saints and Falcons but beat Seattle and Dallas. Green Bay is 1-2 in the division losing at Minnesota and home to the Lions. It should be a fun second half of the season and anything can happen.
Minnesota is at Washington, home versus Rams, at Detroit, at Carolina and at Atlanta for a brutal stretch. They can be caught if they falter and lose to Detroit. The Vikings finish home versus Bengals, at Green Bay and home against the Bears. Minnesota has the lead but must continue to play good defense and improve on offense.
The Packers are at Chicago, host Baltimore, travel to Pittsburgh, host Tampa and travel to the Browns. These games will be without Rodgers and the Packers need to 3-2 to have a chance. Green Bay finishes at Carolina, home against the Vikings and at Detroit. It’s really tough but they have a chance for a 6-2 finish.
The Lions will need to go 6-2 and beat the Vikings on Thanksgiving for the tiebreaker. Detroit hosts the Browns and then go to Soldier Field for the Bears. They host the Vikings but travel to Baltimore and Tampa Bay in early December. Finally, the Lions host the Bears, travel to the Bengals and play Week 17 at home against the Packers again. Detroit has 8-0 on the table but there are games they could choke and lose. Minnesota will need to falter to 4-4 in the second half or Detroit will have to run the table.
Chicago would need to finish 7-1 to get back in the race. They have four more North games (two home, two away) and play the Browns and 49ers in Chicago. However, they play at Philadelphia and at Cincinnati for tougher games.
It should be a great second half of the season. Enjoy the exciting football.