Around the NFC North: Week 3

NFC North

Week two brought about some much expected results and one big surprise.  The Chicago Bears were able to defeat the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football and at the 49ers’ inaugural game at Levi’s Stadium.  Some will say they expected the Bears to win that game but the way Chicago dominated the fourth quarter was quite a spectacle.  The Minnesota Vikings were also playing their first game in their new temporary home, TCF Bank Stadium.  The Vikings came up short against the visiting New England Patriots.  The Detroit Lions fell to 1-1 after a loss to the Carolina Panthers on the road and the Green Bay Packers got their first win of the season against the New York Jets at Lambeau Field.

The NFL is all about momentum and from week to week, it changes.  After a disappointing overtime loss at home last week, the Bears are now carrying the confidence of a big road win without several of their regulars.  They head to New York to take on the Jets.  The Lions will get set to host the Packers this week, in the first divisional game for either team this season.  The Vikings will somehow try to rebound and head to New Orleans to take on the Saints.

With that, let’s take a look at the matchups.

Minnesota Vikings (1-1) at New Orleans Saints (0-2)

The Vikings scored first against the Patriots but were not able to muster any other type of production and were handed a 30-7 loss.  Minnesota was also dealing with the controversy surrounding running back Adrian Peterson, who was not active against the Patriots.  As of early Monday, the Vikings were allowing Peterson to practice with the team and play in Sunday’s game in New Orleans.  Monday afternoon, reports emerged suggesting that Peterson might face additional charges of abuse towards another of his children.  We’ll keep a close eye on that situation and any changes that may arise.

The Saints return home for the first time this season and they have to be saying “home sweet home” after suffering road losses in their first two games.  The Saints duked it out with the Cleveland Browns this past week and were never able to deliver a knockout blow.  Up 24-23 in the closing minutes, the Browns were able to drive down field and kick a game-winning field goal to drop New Orleans to 0-2.  Teams who start 0-2 have about an 11% chance of making the postseason, according to the averages, but this Saints teams seems like they could be part of that 11%.

If the Vikings won’t have Peterson available to them, they’ll struggle to establish the run even though New Orleans has only the 21st-ranked rushing defense.  Despite the addition of free agent safety Jairus Byrd during the offseason, the Saints rank last in passing yardage allowed.  This week could offer an opportunity for that passing defense to improve if the Vikings stick with Matt Cassel and he plays like he did against New England.  Cassel threw four interceptions to just one touchdown pass and many Vikings fans are wondering how quick head coach Mike Zimmer might be to replace him with rookie Teddy Bridgewater.  It’s the Vikings, so who knows.

The Saints are ripe to get their first win of the season and the Vikings are dealing with many distractions and a lack of talent at quarterback.  The Saints can’t possibly start 0-3, can they?

Chicago Bears (1-1) at New York Jets (1-1)

The Bears entered the fourth quarter against the 49ers down 20-7.  Recievers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery were both questionable coming into the game and both ended up playing.  Great for the Bears, bad for the 9ers.  Marshall had two touchdown catches in the fourth, one of which was a nice one-handed grab.  The Bears also forced four turnover, including three interceptions of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.  Bears cornerback Charles Tillman left the game early with an triceps injury and it was announced earlier this week that the team will place him on season-ending injured reserve.  This could signal the end of a great career in Chicago for Tillman.

The Jets came out firing at Lambeau Field against the Packers and built up a 21-3 lead at one point.  After recovering a fumbled snap by Aaron Rodgers, the Jets converted and continued to confuse the Packers defense enroute to two more scores.  From there, the Jets would add only a field goal and let the Packers steal the win.  This game reminded me of the game the Packers had against the Indianapolis Colts in 2012.  Green Bay was also up 21-3 in that one before the Colts stormed back through the combo of Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne to steal the win.  In this case, the quarterback was Rodgers and the receiver was Jordy Nelson, who had 209 yards (a career high) on nine catches.

Against a shaky Jets secondary and with the confidence the Bears will bring to New York, Chicago has a good opportunity to get a second-straight road win.  If the Bears can grab four picks from Kaepernick, what might they do against Geno Smith?  Rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller had two interceptions against San Francisco and looks fairly polished for a rookie corner.  The Bears may have hit it big with that pick and they have to hope so, as Fuller will take over for the departed Tillman.  Chicago did struggle early on with the run so if the Jets can establish their ground game, it could slow things down and allow them to keep the Bears offense off the field.

A Bears win brings them back to Soldier Field for a showdown against the Packers in week four and riding high.  A loss creates more questions than answers about which Bears team the Packers will see.

Green Bay Packers (1-1) at Detroit Lions (1-1)

The Lions continue to struggle on the road and saw the Panthers pull away in the fourth quarter enroute to an easy 24-7 win.  The Lions offense stalled as they were only able to find the end zone once.  Quarterback Matt Stafford had an interception to go along with his touchdown pass.  Receiver Calvin Johnson was the Lions’ leading receiver with six grabs for 83 yards.  Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made his season debut and had 19 yards on four rushing attempts to go along with his touchdown pass to take the lead for good late in the third quarter.  The Lions did sack Newton four times and Stafford was also sacked four times.

The Packers rallied to win from the largest deficit in Aaron Rodgers’ career and helped steady the ship a bit.  After getting more adjusted to the hybrid 3-4/4-3 defense, Green Bay settled in and was able to make a few stops to secure the win.  Wins like that can resonate with a team and remind them that they’re never out of a game until it’s over.  This year’s team may need to get used to playing from behind if they continue to struggle the way they have in pockets over these first two games.

Green Bay is 4-2 against the Lions in Detroit since Rodgers became the starter and both of those losses were in games that he either didn’t play at all or left early.  In 2010, Rodgers was knocked out with a concussion and last season, missed the Thanksgiving Day game with the broken collarbone.  Rodgers and the Packers offense has seemed to fare well indoors so this could be a welcome environment for them.

Both the Packers and Lions have passing defenses in the NFL’s top 10.  Green Bay is ranked 6th and is giving up 178 passing yards/game while the Lions are giving up 198 yards/game through the air.  The Lions, however, are the second-ranked defense against the run, surrendering just 57 yards/game on the ground.  This marks the second-straight week the Packers will see a stout run defense.  Running back Eddie Lacy wasn’t able to establish any type of rhythm or production against the Jets behind an offensive line that had two backup’s in the lineup.  Corey Linsley will start at center against Detroit while the team awaits the next update on tackle Bryan Bulaga and his sprained MCL.  If Bulaga is healthy enough to play, it would be a big boost to the line in both the running and passing phases.

The Packers rank 31st in run defense and are giving up just shy of 200 yards per game.  Six different Jets ball carriers racked up 146 yards against the Packers, who gave up 200 yards in week one to Seattle’s Marshawn Lynch.  It’s just two weeks in, but the Packers don’t seem to have an answer for the opposition’s rushing attack.  Detroit’s Reggie Bush and Joique Bell will be the tandem the Packers will need to prepare for.  Neither are the type of back that should be doing major damage to a defense, but a porous front seven and poor tackling can help pad their stats in a hurry.

The Packers have had up and down defensive performances against receiver Calvin Johnson and now will have to account for newly acquired Golden Tate as well.  Tight ends Joseph Fauria and Eric Ebron will also test the middle of Green Bay’s defense.  Expect to see another healthy dose of nickel coverage and will we see Julius Peppers going stride for stride with either of the tight ends?  They’ll need a bigger body to cover the Lions bigger targets.  Fauria has been run blocking well and that could spell more issues for Green Bay’s defensive front.

This one is a toss up right now so you’ll have to wait until our staff predictions later this week for my winner and score.




Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on

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19 thoughts on “Around the NFC North: Week 3

  1. Saints will pound the Vikes this week. Based on what we saw at Lambeau, I could see the Jets beating the Bears but I don’t think it’s likely. San Fran imploded in the 4th quarter to make that Bears win happen.

    Can the Packers will beat the Lions on Sunday? Sure. Will they? I don’t think so. A big difference between this team and the first two the Packers faced is that the Lions feature a pocket QB in an offense that isn’t going to be running the option…something the Packers haven’t shown an ability to defend with any consistency. Might be a blessing to a Packer pass rush that has had to focus on containing the QB over the first couple weeks. The Lions have a dinged up OL and haven’t been very good running the ball so far…sound familiar? The Lions are also thin in the secondary, so I expect the Packers to throw the ball to set up the run this week. In the end, this game may come down to whether the team that has last possession scores.

    1. Dobber, I am going all in this week on the Packers’ defense. Why? Just as you said, Stafford is not mobile. This is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered for this defense. You will see a blitzkrieg of sacks this week by the Packers and yes, Rodgers will also receive his share but this will be the week we are going to see what we were hoping for in weeks one and two. I expect total domination by the Packers defense this week.

  2. I have been an anti Nick Perry since he came to the Packers as an over drafted and quickly crowned second coming OLB opposite CM3.However,though my over all opinion hasn’t changed and betting on it to do so is ridiculous,I am…urging with vigorous get Nick Perry many more snaps as possible this week vs Detroit as his best and though limited highlight reel plays come against..that’s right…the Lions.Hopefully the two games vs them can be used as some justification for keeping him. 🙂

    1. “I have been an anti Nick Perry since he came to the Packers as an over drafted and quickly crowned second coming OLB opposite CM3.”

      Why is it suddenly so wrong to be excited about a draft pick’s potential? Until you see a player on the field, a positive outlook has just as much merit as a negative one.

      1. “Why is it suddenly so wrong to be excited about a draft pick’s potential? Until you see a player on the field, a positive outlook has just as much merit as a negative one.”

        It isn’t wrong to be excited about a player and to hold that excitement waiting and during his viewing on the field and that isn’t the issue and didn’t imply that either.I have such for Jeff Janis and which is more than I ever had for Perry.

        I’m not saying that it is,but convincing one’s self to do so when it was known he was a reach as a first rd’er to be an OLB,play in a 3-4 scheme and added to this his spoken desire to ‘rather’ be in a 4-3 scheme is now simple denial of what was and has slowly but surely become,and having false vigilance with hope of a miracle happening before your eyes.

        Be excited for a player who is being placed in the position to succeed but,though many will deny it,knew Perry was a long shot to be what the Packers needed at OLB for the team and much more so in the thinking at the time for CM3’s benefit…why a OLB was a ‘NEED’ opposite him.

        He was touted as the Matthews savior(a USC bookend) and yet,all he really has done is to force yet another transition,Mike Neal and the signing of an aged DE ,with hopes that they can achieve what he was drafted to do.

        Perry at this moment is a situation player at best(and likely not even best) for the Packers…yet, he has done his best on the ‘field’ in the situation at hand come Sunday versus the Lions….. I merely would like the team to get something from the over all nothing he has to date supplied.

        Nick Perry vs the Lions is something I can get excited about based on history and that is all. 🙂

          1. I DARE you to drive up to Green Bay and videotape yourself saying that to his face.

            Mr. “Big” T once again showing his fantastic facebook balls. SMH.

            1. I would have absolutely no problem saying that to his face. If he fights and/or defends himself like he plays, my daughter could kick his azz.

        1. Most NFL OLBs, including some of the very best, were college DEs. If every NFL tried to draft “true” OLBs for a 3-4 scheme it would impossible, there’s simply not enough to do it.

          1. “Most NFL OLBs, including some of the very best, were college DEs. ”

            This is understood,however,Perry had no moves other than a bull rush,which itself wasn’t as good as perceived then and still isn’t,he was too heavy at close to 275-280 and his combine speed took a hit when on a field and is seen as truth on video.
            The attempt to teach him has been a failure and even with Kevin Greene(though possibly a tad over rated)coaching him up,has failed to show any learning when on the field in between his constant boo-boo’s.

            If we were to play Detroit every other week I’d say keep him based on his success vs them,but we don’t and so his odds of showing promise otherwise are all but erased. 🙂

  3. The Packers are going to need to score 38 plus points to win this one. As long as Capers is there with his mis – tackling misfits they will need to score on every possession. I know one person on the Lions who will not be MVP of the game; their punter. He may not have to punt the entire game. No so unlikely.


  4. “Running back Eddie Lacy wasn’t able to establish any type of rhythm or production against the Jets behind an offensive line that had two back-ups in the lineup.”

    Strictly speaking, the above is true. But one of the back-ups, Linsley, wasn’t part of the problem (indeed, he seems to be part of the solution). GB couldn’t run because Bakhtiari and Sherrod don’t run block well, Lang had an off-night, and the TEs were just okay as blockers. Plus, the Jets loaded the box.

    1. I agree that Linsley has been a pleasant surprise. But if you had asked me back in training camp/preseason, I would have said that Tretter had performed better without a doubt. In fact, I thought that Tretter looked darn good, and stood to be a definite upgrade to EDS. He just seemed to pack a lot more wallop than either EDS or Linsley. It will be interesting to see how that position battle plays out when Tretter comes back, but my guess is that Tretter resumes his starting role and does better than Linsley is doing now.

      Agree about Sherrod’s run blocking. He just hasn’t shown an ounce of explosion. In pass blocking, even when he manages to stay in front of his man, he can’t anchor and gets pushed back. You’re also correct, IMO, that Bakhtiari has been average at best so far.

      Put Bulaga and Tretter back in, and I think this line is much improved.

      1. I agree on all points with one caveat: I need to see Tretter in real action before I replace Linsley. However, it is a nice issue to have.

  5. If the O-line plays well, we will win. Give Rodgers time against that secondary and we should have success. Barring that, if our D-line plays well, Stafford will start forcing passes and that should bode well for our secondary. Either way, we need to win the battle of the trenches.

    1. Apparently Bulaga has a realistic chance of playing this week against the Lions. It might still come down to a game-time decision, but his physical presence on the line would bode well for the running game and keeping Detroit’s DL off Aaron Rodgers.

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