Detroit Lions (3-1 Overall) (1-0 Division)
The Detroit defense has stepped up in big ways for their team, forcing 11 turnovers in just four games. The offense has also productively used running back Ameer Abdullah, who missed most of the 2016 season due to a knee injury. Detroit’s only loss comes as a last-second heartbreaker to the Falcons, where wide receiver Golden Tate was ruled down at the 1-yard line instead of in the end zone for a score in the last seconds of the game. Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has only turned the ball over once this season, will look to keep the Lions moving forward against a Panthers team that stunned the Patriots on the road last week.
Green Bay Packers (3-1 Overall) (1-0 Division)
The Packers won big on Thursday night against the Bears but suffered some key injuries. Running backs Ty Montgomery and Jamaal Williams will both likely miss time with a rib and knee injury, respectively. Defensive tackle Mike Daniels has also missed three games with an injury, which shows just how much the defense relied on him to stop the run and put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Green Bay defense is once again a bit inconsistent but seem to be trending in the right direction. They looked elite against Seattle in Week 1 but had no answers in Atlanta the following week. Since then, they put on a clutch performance in overtime against Cincinnati in Week 3 and held Bears quarterback Mike Glennon to just over 200 yards passing last Thursday. The defense will need to find a way to continue to give their team an edge, what with high-powered offenses like Dallas, Pittsburgh and New Orleans on the docket.
Minnesota Vikings (2-2 Overall) (0-1 Division)
Unfortunately for Minnesota, the season’s most defining trademark has been the injuries. First quarterback Sam Bradford posts a 143.0 quarterback rating against the Saints on Monday Night Football, then he missed multiple games with a knee injury. The team did not seem to suffer much as Case Keenum stepped up and lead the Vikings to another win, but a devastating injury to running back Dalvin Cook brings to question how the offense will function moving forward. The rookie out of Florida State will miss what looked to be a very promising season, rushing for 288 yards in his first three games.
Chicago Bears (1-3 Overall) (0-1 Division)
Coming into the season, the biggest question for the Bears was the quarterback position. During the 2017 NFL Draft, Chicago traded up from the No. 3 overall pick to the No. 2 overall pick to take quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Just months before, they signed quarterback Mike Glennon to a deal and named him the starter. Now, after Glennon’s 1-3 start, it appears that Trubisky will get his chance to lead the Bears on Monday Night Football against the Vikings. As for the defense, they will look to function without linebacker Danny Trevathan while he serves his two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams last Thursday night.
Who comes out on top?
While it is still early in the season and all four teams are still in the mix, only one can come out on top at the end of the season. Based on what I’ve seen so far, my pick would be the Green Bay Packers. While it isn’t a bold prediction, the Packers have more to offer than the other teams when they are healthy. Green Bay has won the NFC North five of the last six years and are trending in a direction to do it again. It will most likely come down to the Week 17 matchup against the Lions, but it will depend on if the Packers can keep their studs on the field to win games between now and then.