Here’s a look at the Week 6 matchups around the NFC North. The Chicago Bears are on a bye and do not play.
Detroit Lions (1-3) at Philadelphia Eagles (3-2)
The Lions emerge from their bye to face the Eagles in Philadelphia. Detroit needs a win to halt a three-game losing streak. Their last loss was at home to the Minnesota Vikings. They haven’t won since week one. Having been to the playoffs last season and coming into this season with high expectations, they would be digging a big hole with a loss. It would leave them at least 3 games behind division leaders Bears and Vikings.
The Eagles dropped a close game at Pittsburgh last week. The Eagles are looking for more consistency. After a close week 1 win over the underdog Browns, Philadelphia came home and beat the Baltimore Ravens. They followed that up with a loss at Arizona and then a win at home against the New York Giants.
Eagles QB Michael Vick is also looking to establish some consistency. He has six TD’s and six INT’s on the season. Vick has been sacked 14 times and has endured a few dings. He is not taking off and running at will as he once did and the Eagles offensive line hasn’t been great. They have to find a way to protect Vick against a potent Detroit defensive line. Despite the Lions’ struggles, they still feature very good pass rushers in Ndomakong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch.
The Lions will rely on QB Matt Stafford to lead their offense. Stafford has three TD passes to four INT’s on the season. His top receiving target, Calvin Johnson has just one TD catch all season. Johnson needs to make more of an impact in this game to give Detroit a chance to win.
These teams are evenly matched on defense and statistically, the Lions hold an edge on offense. But I have to give the overall edge to the Eagles as they’re at home. That can all shift in either direction if either team can force a takeaway or two.
Minnesota Vikings (4-1) at Washington Redskins (2-3)
The Vikings continued to roll with a win on Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. The Titans didn’t score until the 4th quarter and the Vikes rolled over an opponent they ultimately should have. They continue to raise eyebrows in the NFC North race and are tied for 1st place.
The Washington Redskins lost to the Atlanta Falcons and the big question coming out of that game was the status of Redskin QB Robert Griffin III. Griffin was slow to get up after taking a big hit and the fear was that he had suffered a concussion. It was announced yesterday that RG3 has been cleared to practice this week. Barring a setback, he should play Sunday.
The Redskins are stronger offensively and the Vikings have a better defense. In turn, the Vikings’ offense ranks 20th overall and the Redskins have the 26th overall ranked defense. This one will either be a shootout or low scoring affair. Washington has given up 11 sacks this season. QB protection likely becomes the storyline in this game and I can see the Vikes having success with their solid pass rush.
It should also be noted that it was in Washington on Christmas Eve 2011 that Vikings RB Adrian Peterson injured his ACL. No better time or place for him to finally put to rest any question about how “back to normal” he is. The Redskins are giving up around 88 yards/game so it won’t come easy but they also don’t face a back like Peterson every week.
With RG3 officially in the lineup, I still lean towards the Vikes winning this game.
Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Houston Texans (5-0)
We’re all familiar with what happened in Indianapolis and this week doesn’t present an easy opportunity for the Pack to get back to .500. The Houston Texans are undefeated and are the best overall team in the NFL. They do everything well from coaches to on-field play. There are no apparent or major weaknesses on this Houston team.
The Packers will have to overcome every shortcoming they currently face to win this game. While I maintain that it’s not a “must win”, a Packer victory would go miles for their confidence. It’s the perfect scenario and type of game for the Pack to define this season and who they are. Get a big road win and they take an important step to re-establishing themselves as contenders. Lose and the deficit gets deeper.
This one is going to come down to the battle in the trenches and clock control. The Texans run the ball extremely well and have an elite back in Arian Foster. The Packers had major issues keeping up with Colts RB Donald Brown off the edge and the Texans have the personnel to do much of the same.
The Packer O line will have their hands full with the Texans pass rush that is getting incredible production from JJ Watt. Watt is said by many to be the best defensive player in the NFL. They must find a way to protect QB Aaron Rodgers and give him time in the pocket. Texans star LB Brian Cushing suffered a significant knee injury vs. the New York Jets and it appears he will not be active for this week’s game.
The Packers will have to account for the loss of starting RB Cedric Benson. Benson is expected to miss at least eight weeks with his Lisfranc foot injury. Now more will fall on Rodgers to get the job done on offense. The Jets did manage few long pass plays against the Texans secondary on Monday Night. The Pack need to do the same while mixing in quick routes and a dose of RB Alex Green to keep drives alive.
The Texans hold a clear advantage in this one but it’s a game that the Pack can win if they play as soundly as they are capable of.
Enjoy the games!——————
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: