The NFC North was a wild division in 2019. Three teams had a .500 record or better, only one of two divisions to accomplish that feat last season. The division also combined for a pair of playoff victories. Here is the NFC North 2019 Recap.
2019 Record: 8-8
NFC North Record: 4-2
The reigning NFC North champions disappointed on their lofty 2019 expectations. Just like in 2018, the Bears season began with a loss to their division rival Packers. However, after that opening game loss, Chicago rallied off 3 straight wins. Things were looking up as they flew off to London for their week 5 contest. This began a 4-game losing streak that put the team behind the 8-ball the rest of the way.
A 4-win stretch over the next 5 games brought the Bears above .500. That series of games included 2 victories over their divisional rival Lions. However, two losses against two elite NFL teams eliminated Chicago from playoff contention.
The season did end on a high note for the Bears with a season-finale victory over the Vikings. Chicago actually swept both Detroit and Minnesota in 2019 but lost too many non-divisional games to make it to the post-season.
2019 Record: 3-12-1
NFC North Record: 0-6
The Lions’ season began relatively well. They went undefeated through the first 3 games of 2019. However, an opening game tie to the Cardinals was actually a disappointment. This is especially true when considering that Detroit led 24-6 early in the 4th quarter.
Blowing that 18-point lead in Arizona did not seem to affect Detroit right away. Sitting at 2-0-1 the Lions had confidence heading into a contest with the eventual champion Chiefs. In fact, Detroit even had a 3-point lead with 2:31 left in the game. Alas, they lost another lead and suffered their first loss of the season.
Upon returning from their week 5 bye, the Lions lost a pair of divisional games against the Packers and Viking respectively. In fact, Detroit went 0-6 against NFC North opponents in 2019. I’m not sure what is worse, that stat or the team’s 9-game losing streak to end the season. Furthermore, out of their 12 defeats, the Lions held a 4th quarter lead in 7 of them. Certainly, 2019 was a massive disappointment.
Green Bay Packers
2019 Record: 13-3
NFC North Record: 6-0
The NFC North was supposed to be among the most competitive in football. That argument can still be made considering that it was one of only two divisions that produced 3 teams with at least a .500 record. All the more impressive was the fact that the Packers swept the NFC North during 2019.
While they certainly won a lot of games, it may be the losses that most define this past season for the Packers. The team’s first defeat in 2019 came at the hands of the Eagles. The 34-27 loss was certainly close, but it probably most notable for Jordan Howard‘s 3 TD game that helped seal the victory for Philadelphia. Green Bay could not score any points in the contest after Davante Adams left with an injury. He was the key to the Packers offense in this game as he caught 10 of 15 targets for 180 yards.
Adams missed a month with the injury, but during that time, Green Bay went 4-0. He returned in time to face the Chargers in week 9. The Packers offense really let the team down, as they could not find the end zone until late in the 4th quarter. By that point, Green Bay was down 26-11 and did not have enough time to mount a comeback.
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Three weeks later, the Packers returned to the West Coast to face the 49ers. Similarly to the Chargers game, the offense struggled throughout the majority of this contest. However, the defense also joined them in ineptitude allowing 37 points. The Packers while they could only muster 1 score, a touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Adams.
Green Bay ended the regular season with 5 straight victories which allowed them to not only win the NFC North but secure a 1st-round bye during the playoffs. Their first post-season opponent was the Seahawks. It was a close-fought contest that came right down to the wire as the Packers emerged with a 28-23 win. This was thanks to a pair of rushing touchdowns by Aaron Jones, as well as two scores by Adams. The only bad news was that Green Bay was leading 21-3 at halftime and allowed Seattle back in the game.
For the NFC Championship Game, the Packers returned to San Francisco to face the 49ers. Once again, San Francisco produced 37 points and shutout Green Bay during the 1st-half. I this contest, the big hero was Raheem Mostert who ran for 220 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was actually the 2nd most rushing yards for any player in any playoff game in NFL history. The Packers run defense was vulnerable all season, but this final game was arguably their worst performance in that regard. The offense did put up a fight by scoring 20 points in the 2nd-half but it was too little too late as Green Bay’s season ended one game short of the Super Bowl.
2019 Record: 10-6
NFC North Record: 2-4
It was an up and down year for Minnesota. They began by alternating wins and losses through the first 4 weeks of the season. Next, between weeks 5 and 8, the Vikings pulled off their longest streak of the season with 4 straight victories. Only the Chiefs stood in the way of making it a 7-game streak as they handed Minnesota a loss in week 9.
Even so, an 8-3 record heading into the bye week gave hope that this team could win the division. However, a loss right after the bye put them a step behind the Packers. The NFC North crown was officially lost in week 16 as they were defeated by Green Bay. They even managed to hold the Packers to 3 points in the 1st half. The Packers uped the antie and completely shut out the Vikings in the 2nd half.
Ultimately, Minnesota a forced to face the Saints in the Wild Card Round. The dome in New Orleans can be an intimidating place to play but the Vikings held their own. Not only were they leading at halftime, but they even forced the Saints into a last-second field goal in order to tie the game at the end of regulation. Massive credit goes to the defense but also two offensive players. Dalvin Cook produced 130 scrimmage yards and 2 touchdowns, while Adam Thielen caught 7 receptions for 129 yards. This accounted for more than half of Kirk Cousins‘ passing yards. However, Kyle Rudolph ended up being the hero as he caught a touchdown in overtime to send the Vikings to the next round.
Facing the 49ers in the Divisional Round, Minnesota was again a massive underdog. Kudos to the Vikings who answered a San Francisco opening drive touchdown, with a score of their own. Afterward, both elite defenses settled in and the score was only 14-10 at halftime. However, those 10 points were all that Minnesota could produce as they lost 27-10. While anything short of a Super Bowl is disappointing the Vikings did win a playoff game this season, something only 6 other teams can say about their 2019 campaigns.
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