After all is said and done about competing for a division title, the teams with experience winning will always dominate teams who are learning to win. I think that’s the case with the Green Bay Packers (the team that has experience winning) and the Minnesota Vikings (the team that’s learning how to win).
The Packers and the Vikings competed for the lead in the NFC North last weekend and the Packers won.
Although the Packers have been in somewhat of a funk at times this season, they have learned how to win the big games.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw a pair of touchdown passes, Packers’ defensive end Datone Jones collected two of the Packers’ six sacks of Vikings’ QB Teddy Bridgewater and Packers running back Eddie Lacy again broke the 100 yards benchmark.
In addition, Packers’ wide receiver James Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and kicker Mason Crosby was successful on all five of his field goal attempts. It was the Packs 10th win over the Vikings in the last 11 tries with Rodgers at quarterback.
This was not one of Rodgers’ best games. He finished with 16 completions on 34 attempts for 212 yards and no turnovers. But he was good when he had to be. For example, he threw scoring passes to Jones and Randall Cobb on third-down plays.
Meanwhile, the stars for the Vikings couldn’t perform when they had to. Adrian Peterson gained only 45 yards on 13 carries and one touchdown. He fumbled at the Packers’ 21-yard line early in the fourth quarter.
Bridgewater was sacked on two consecutive plays and the Vikings were forced to punt after the Packers’ score. He was sacked a total of six times.
An interference penalty call on Terrence Newman while covering Packers’ back up wide receiver Jeff Janis on a third-and-15 play no doubt helped. It set up a Rodgers to Cobb 10-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left in the first half. They were also helped when Anthony Barr was flagged for illegal contact after Rodgers threw a third-down pass incomplete. That error permitted the Pack to continue the drive.
Rodgers threw a total of 61 passes during the team’s defeat against the Detroit Lions the previous week. That was not going to be the case in this game. The Packers worked to re-establish their running game. Lacy finished with 100 yards on 22 carries.
Bridgewater was harassed throughout the game and actually had to leave the field briefly with an injured left shoulder. He finished with 25 completions on 37 throws and a touchdown.
Kyle Rudolph was the leading receiver for the Vikings with six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Stefon Diggs finished with six catches for 66 yards and Jarius Wright caught four passes for 50 yards. PACKERS 30 VIKINGS 13
The Detroit Lions may have found their formula for winning as they beat the Oakland Raiders. The win gave the Lions their second in a row and they are 3-0 when their runners carry the ball at least 20 times.
Even Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford contributed to the rushing yardage with a five-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. He ran a couple other plays during that drive. His rushing touchdown was the team’s first rushing score since week three.
It was rushing by committee for the Lions as Ameer Abdullah, Joique Bell and Theo Riddick combined for 89 yards on 24 carries. Stafford contributed another 31 yards. He also completed 22 passes on 35 attempts for 282 yards.
Lions’ kicker Matt Prater made up for a poor performance against the Packers when he missed two extra points. He hit three field goals in this game, one for 29-yards, the second for 41-yards, and the third for 51 yards in the first half.
The Raiders may have experienced their worst game of the season offensively as they were only able to achieve 50 yards rushing and 164 yards passing for a total of 214 yards. Their first down production was also limited to 13.
Raiders’ QB Derek Carr finished with 13 completions out of 25 throws for 169 yards. Their running back Latavius Murray was held to a season-low 28 yards on 13 carries. Amari Cooper also had season lows one reception for four yards and had three drops.
Raiders’ offensive tackle Donald Penn almost cost his team two points when he was flagged for holding just outside of the end zone. However, he did give up a safety when he was caught holding Ezekiel Ansah in the end zone.
The Raiders were actually leading in the third quarter when Murray rushed one-yard for a touchdown and kicker Sebastian Janikowski made a go-ahead field goal of 48 yards. LIONS 18 RAIDERS 13
Denver Broncos back up quarterback Brock Osweiler replaced an injured Payton Manning and threw two touchdown passes and the Broncos defense stopped Jeremy Langford from getting a two-point conversion in the final minute to beat the Chicago Bears. Langford had scored the touchdown on a two-yard run. A successful two-point play would have tied the game and forced overtime.
Osweiler completed 20 passes on 27 attempts for 250 yards in his first start of his four-year NFL career. He was sacked five times.
Osweiler threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas on the Broncos’ first possession and a 10-yard TD pass to Cody Latimer early in the fourth quarter.
Bears’ kicker Robbie Gould was successful on three field goal attempts. QB Jay Cutler gave up two turnovers. He has committed 11 turnovers in the fourth quarter in the past two seasons. That ties him for second-most in the NFL. BRONCOS 17 BEARS 15
NFC NORTH STANDINGS Overall Division
GREEN BAY PACKERS 7-3 2-1
MINNESOTA VIKINGS 7-3 3-1
CHICAGO BEARS 4-6 0-3
DETROIT LIONS 3-7 2-2
NFC NORTH SCHEDULE
EAGLES @ LIONS NOVEMBER 26, 2015
BEARS @ PACKERS NOVEMBER 26, 2015
VIKINGS @ FALCONS NOVEMBER 29, 2015
Courtesy of Bleacher Report