The NFC North race is far from over with the Detroit Lions’ lead over the Vikings shrinking
Detroit – A few weeks ago, it looked as if the Detroit Lions had already locked down the NFC North Division.
The Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers fared poorly. The Minnesota Vikings were losing close games. At one point, the Lions led the division by three games in the loss column.
Most of us are starting to turn some attention to potential playoff seeding. But over the last few weeks, the Vikings have made a serious offensive run, and this run is starting to heat up.
I really felt like the Vikings deserved a much better start to the season. They lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on a field goal in the opener, nearly beat the mighty Philadelphia Eagles on the road, then built a fourth-quarter lead against the Los Angeles Chargers.
After beating the Carolina Panthers in a closer-than-expected road test, the Vikings returned home and nearly defeated the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
When the dust settled, although it looked like the Vikings played well against several of the top teams in the league, their record was 1-4. Meanwhile, the Lions have a comfortable 4-1 lead in three games.
The ball has started to bounce Minnesota’s way lately. The Vikings have reeled off four straight wins, and they’ve done so without one of the best players on the planet, wide receiver Justin Jefferson.
This winning streak included an upset of the San Francisco 49ers and a road win over the playoff-contending Atlanta Falcons. once again, Without their best players in the field.
Sure, Kirk Cousins will be out this season, but Jefferson will be back, and Minnesota has proven it can find ways to win. People forget that the Vikings went 13-4 and won the division easily a year ago. They may not be Which Good, but they are more than capable of making the playoffs.
One person who hasn’t forgotten about the Vikings is Lions coach Dan Campbell. He did his best to acknowledge them during his press conference on Monday.
“We need to give our best, because these are the teams that will make a push,” Campbell said. “Do you see what (Minnesota) is doing? I’m not surprised by that. They keep winning, don’t they? They are playing good football. We have to keep playing good football.”
With the Lions coming off their bye week, their lead in the division has shrunk to just a game and a half. They face a virtual bowl game against the Chargers this weekend, while the Vikings host the Saints in another contest that could go either way.
Can we talk about a half-game lead by this time next week? Or will it remain 1.5, or even rise to 2.5?
Either way, it’s clear that the NFC North title is not a foregone conclusion for the Lions, although it certainly felt that way a few weeks ago. Those head-to-head matchups at the end of the season (Week 16 in Minneapolis and Week 18 in Detroit) are starting to feel more important.
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