NFC NORTH: Where all four teams stand heading into Week 5

It’s not officially the quarter point in the season because of the 17-game NFL schedule these days, but it’s close enough. We’re starting to learn a lot about the four teams in the NFC North a month into the season.

This week’s NFC North column takes a look at where things stand in the division through the first four games.

Consider it a quarterly report.

MINNESOTA

Record: 3-1

Wins: Green Bay (23-7), Detroit (28-24), New Orleans (28-25)

Losses: Philadelphia (24-7)

Next opponent: vs. Chicago (2-2)

Most valuable player: This Minnesota defense has taken a big step forward in their first season under defensive coordinator Ed Donatell. The Vikings were one of the worst defenses in the league last year, but currently rank 13th in points allowed. Za’Darius Smith has been a terrific addition opposite Danielle Hunter on the edge. He’s recorded 3.0 sacks, six tackles for loss and five quarterback hits in four games.

Key statistic: The Vikings are second in the NFL in scoring at the end of the half. Their 30 points in the last possession of each half is second to only the New York Jets’ 40. When the offense needs a play late in the half or late in the game, they’ve shown the ability to step up and perform.

Area of improvement needed: Offensively, the Vikings have to be better on third down and in the red zone. Minnesota ranks 28th on third down, converting…

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