The NFC North race is on

Steve Floyd/MSR News NFL leading rusher Vikings star Dalvin Cook

In August before the start of the 2019 NFL 100 regular season, the popular choice by many gamblers by a margin of 9-1 was the Chicago Bears to win the Super Bowl; then the Cleveland Browns and Kansas City Chiefs. This is week four of the 100th NFL season, and already we are approaching the first quarter of the 16-game regular season.

The 2-1 Bears are the defending champions of the NFC North. Last year they were 12-4 and swept the 2-1 Vikings. Green Bay (3-0) has already played and beaten both Chicago (10-3) and the Vikings (21-16), so the Packers are among the NFL’s elite unbeaten teams.

New England, Kansas City, Buffalo, San Francisco, Los Angeles Rams and Dallas are all 3-0. Detroit is 2-0-1. The combined record of the four NFC North teams is an NFL-best 9-2-1.

Thursday the Packers are again at home playing the 1-2 Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were a playoff team last year at 9-7 and won the Super Bowl two years ago here in Minneapolis. However, with Dallas at 3-0 the Eagles can’t afford to fall further behind.

The Bears on Monday night assaulted Washington 31-15, forcing five turnovers in the victory. Ex-Vikings Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson had a long night. The Vikings travel to Chicago Sunday to play the Bears at Soldier’s Field.

The Vikings dominated the Oakland Raiders last Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium 34-14 behind NFL rushing leader Dalvin Cook’s third-straight 100-yard rushing game. The Vikings and Bears are both 2-1. The loser of next Sunday’s game would be 0-2 head-to-head in the NFC North and in last place in the Division. Obviously, this week’s game is critical for title hopes with 12 weeks left.

The Vikings have got to get physical, dig deep, and breakthrough on the road; the show seems to be just fine at home. Winning anywhere is important, but road wins in the Division are huge.

Green Bay has already won in Chicago after beating the Bears. Can the Vikings catch the Bears on a short week, having played on Monday Night on the road, and get back in the NFC North title race?

We’ll see. This should be a great football game.