Only seven teams remain undefeated after three weeks, including the Vikings, and the only reason the NFC West doesn't have an undefeated team is because the Vikings knocked them off that perch. As Minnesota prepares for what is expected to be one of the most-watched Monday Night Football games in history against the Packers, the power of the NFC North was on display Sunday.
Perhaps it is the influx of new quarterbacks – Brett Favre to the Vikings, Jay Cutler to the Bears and Matthew Stafford to Lions – that has lifted the fortunes of the NFC North. All three played key roles in their teams winning Sunday and are being viewed as something akin to franchise saviors.
The Bears have proved that they are no fluke. After losing the season opener to Green Bay, Chicago has rallied to win the last two – beating Pittsburgh and Seattle in consecutive weeks. The Packers stumbled at home to Cincinnati in Week 2, but, after the Bengals defeated Pittsburgh Sunday, you have to get the impression these aren't the same cushy Bengals that have been the doormat of the NFL for so long.
Even the lowly Lions, who led the Vikings at halftime of their game in Week 2, stepped up Sunday. They snapped a 19-game losing streak that dated back to December 2007 by beating the Redskins.
There are certain to be those who say the NFC East is the strongest division in the league and others that will contend that the top three teams in the NFC South – New Orleans, Atlanta and Carolina – are elite teams that could all make the 2009 playoffs.
But, as it stands, the NFC North is the current king. The teams have a combined record of 8-4, with a record of 6-3 in the conference and even 4-2 on the road so far this season. It would appear as though winning the NFC North is going to be difficult because of the competition, but the team that does emerge as division champ will likely have as good a chance as anyone to get to the Super Bowl, because that team will be playoff tested long before the postseason begins.