We're Black and Blue All Over:
Late last week, I suggested the NFC North had an opportunity to step up and demonstrate it will have multiple teams in playoff contention thanks to a weekend schedule of presumably inferior AFC South opponents. Two of our three teams capitalized Sunday.
The Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears defeated the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars, respectively, by combined scores of 71-10. The Green Bay Packers, however, were stunned by a second-half comeback and dropped a 30-27 game to the Indianapolis Colts that lowered their record to 2-3.
This week, the competition gets a tougher with the Houston Texans, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles -- whose combined record is 9-5 -- on the schedule. (The Bears have their bye.) But first, a quick look around Monday morning's coverage:
Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette: "To be frank, the Packers turned in their worst half in [coach Mike] McCarthy's six-plus seasons as coach, with fundamental breakdowns occurring all across the board."
Michael Hunt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "At a stunning 2-3, and a shaky 2-3 at that, it remains to be seen how much of a rebound these Packers have in them."
The Packers could be without running back Cedric Benson (foot) and nose tackle B.J. Raji (ankle) for a while, according to the Press-Gazette.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw an interception and missed an open Jordy Nelson for a long touchdown in the first quarter, via Jason Wilde of ESPNMilwaukee.com: "My performance? I can't turn the ball over. I think we can all play better. If we do that for 60 minutes, we'll probably win these games."
The Packers missed a chance to get an easier field goal attempt for place-kicker Mason Crosby at the end of the game, according to Pete Dougherty of the Press-Gazette.
Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com on the Bears: "The offense is a little worse than we thought it would be after the preseason, and the defense a little better. The Chicago Bears: Keep calm and carry on."
Still, the Bears' 501 yards of offense Sunday was their most since 1989, notes David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune.
The Bears' "aging" defense was dominant after a short week and on a hot field, writes Dan Pompei of the Chicago Tribune.
Cornerback Charles Tillman and linebacker Lance Briggs became the first teammates in NFL history to return interceptions for touchdowns in consecutive weeks, notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
The Vikings' mantra has become "what's the big deal?" Tom Powers of the St. Paul Pioneer Press explains.
Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "It wasn't long ago, but five games into a season that was supposed to feature baby wipes and teething rings, the long list of perceived Vikings weaknesses now looks like it was printed on parchment."
Tom Pelissero of 1500ESPN.com: "The laughs are with the Vikings again, not at them."
Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell made an unexpected contribution through four games, writes Josh Katzenstein of the Detroit News.
The rookie season of Lions receiver Ryan Broyles has started slowly, notes Justin Rogers of Mlive.com.