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NFL 2013: NFC North Midseason Report Card

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Every team in the National Football League has now played at least eight games this season.

Hence let's take a look at each club in the NFL and how they've performed at the halfway point (or slightly more in some instances.

We'll take some time this week to see what each team has done well this season, what improvement(s) need to be made and assign a grade to each club based on performance and combined with expectations. And to make things easy, we will do it on a divisional basis. We wrap things up with a look at the NFC North.

And feel free to give out your own grade(s) as well…

Green Bay Packers (5-3)

Nice Work: Rookie running back Eddie Lacy has been everything the Packers offense needed and more. He leads all rookies with 596 yards rushing, 545 of those yards coming in the last five games. And his workload may increase even more over the next few weeks as head coach Mike McCarthy and the team deal with the indefinite absence of quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Needs Work: Nothing that a little better luck and a few hundred ice packs couldn't cure. Once again, the Packers have been racked with injuries, especially when it comes to Rodgers' receiving corps. But the good teams find a way and Green Bay has been getting contributions from everywhere. But just how long before the wave of injuries ultimately takes its toll?

Grade: B

Detroit Lions (5-3)

Nice Work: A lot of people liked the offseason addition of free agent running back Reggie Bush and the electrifying performer has not disappointed. He leads the team with 518 yards rushing and is third on the team with 27 receptions. And speaking of catches, quarterback Matthew Stafford and wideout Calvin Johnson are back doing what they do best. Last season, the former threw only 20 touchdowns and only four of those went to the All-Pro receiver. In 2013, Stafford has already thrown for 16 scores and nearly half (7) have gone to Johnson…

Needs Work: The Lions' defense has been better at times this season but it can still be had. There's been a lack of consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks, hence Jim Schwartz's team has just as many takeaways as sacks (13) this season. And until Detroit can find a way to consistently beat the Packers, their division-title drought will continue. Still, this team is a long way from last season's disappointing 4-12 showing…

Grade: B+

Chicago Bears (5-3)

Nice Work: The Bears' revamped offensive line has been a bright spot for first-time NFL head coach Marc Trestman. The team used free agency (LT Jermon Bushrod and LG Matt Slauson) and the draft (rookies RG Kyle Long and RT Jordan Mills) to rebuild this unit and so far so good. Second-year wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has also upped this game this season…

Needs Work: The once-proud Chicago defense is hanging on by a thread, although this unit still has the knack for coming up with those takeaways. But despite forcing 19 turnovers in eight games this season, the Bears have allowed 226 points and 21 offensive touchdowns. That's quite a contrast for a squad that gave up only allowed 277 points and 25 offensive touchdowns in 16 games a year ago…

Grade: B

Minnesota Vikings (2-7)

Nice Work: On Thursday night, Leslie Frazier's team snapped a four-game losing streak and got win number two for the season thanks to 20 unanswered points versus the Washington Redskins. While running back Adrian Peterson isn't approaching last year's incredible performance, how many people actually expected him to? It's been a thrill watching rookie wideout Cordarrelle Patterson, who's been electric on kickoff returns…

Needs Work: Defense flew south early for the Purple Gang, who haven't stopped much of anyone this season. The Vikings have allowed at least 23 points in each of their nine games this season. The pass rush, despite four sacks of Robert Griffin III on Thursday night, has been a major disappointment, producing just 21 sacks in nine games. That's bad news when facing the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford on an annual two-game basis…

Grade: D

Russell S. Baxter has been covering the NFL for 30-plus years on all platforms. He is the founder of ProFootballGuru.com, writes for numerous websites and publications across the country and is blessed with an encyclopedic memory. Ready to talk NFL? Follow him on Twitter at @BaxFootballGuru.

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