The Green Bay Packers kicked off week five with a big win over division rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. The Chicago Bears let one slip away in Carolina and the Detroit Lions did the same in overtime and lost their first game at home to the Buffalo Bills. The Bills have now beaten two NFC North teams at home. Maybe it’s a good thing the Packers travel to Buffalo this time around!
Week six brings around three match ups as the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings lock up for the first time this season in Minnesota. The Packers travel to Miami to face the Dolphins, led by their former offensive coordinator, Joe Philbin. The Bears will travel to Atlanta and face the Falcons.
Let’s take a look at each game a bit further.
Detroit Lions (3-2) at Minnesota Vikings (2-3)
The Lions fell into somewhat of a tie with the Packers for the division lead after falling to the Bills. Detroit owns the tie-breaker, having beaten the Packers head-to-head already but that doesn’t mean much in week six and with a lot left to happen this season.
Detroit has not typically fared well on the road and this game would normally be played indoors, where the Lions would seem more comfortable, as they play indoors in Detroit. But the Vikings are renting “The Bank” for the next two seasons and this one will be played in the elements.
Of big concern for Detroit were ankle injuries to two very important offensive players, receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Reggie Bush. Both left the game against the Bills early and did not return. No timetable has been given on either and a loss of one or both would be significant for Detroit.
The Vikings got beat up in Green Bay and are hoping to see one of their own injured players return in that of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater’s ankle injury kept him out of the game against the Packers and he was relieved (if we can use that term) by Christian Ponder. Signs point to Bridgewater playing this week after getting some extra time off.
With the Lions very stout against the run, the Vikings will have to get it done through the air if they’re going to hold serve at home. Minnesota running back Matt Asiata has filled in for Adrian Peterson, but no one is Adrian Peterson and teams know Minnesota has to throw. Ponder was likely dealing with some rust of not having played all season long but he wasn’t able to establish any rhythm and was inaccurate, at best, in Green Bay.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown well this season, but has faced a lot of pressure. Stafford has three interceptions and a fumble so far this season. Minnesota will likely try to keep the heat on Stafford and hope that they can force a turnover or two.
A Lions loss and a Packers win would leave Green Bay alone atop the division.
Chicago Bears (2-3) at Atlanta Falcons (2-3)
The Bears, much like the Lions, had a lead in their game against the Carolina Panthers but weren’t able to hold on and a few late turnovers sealed their fate. Chicago has now lost two in a row.
Atlanta gave up 13 fourth quarter points to the New York Giants to remain winless on the road. They are 2-0 at home, however. The Bears had won their first two road games before losing in Carolina. For what it’s worth, the Bears are undefeated when they wear their white jerseys so Atlanta may want to consider donning their white tops at home. Yes, I’m half joking.
Chicago has turned the ball over six times in the last two games and that obviously has to change if they want to get back on track. Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has four interceptions during that span. After scoring that big win in San Francisco, the Bears have lost all of the momentum they had built up and need a win to keep pace in the North.
The Falcons are averaging 322 passing yards per game but have turned it over 10 times already. As is usually the case in any game, turnovers will likely play a large role in the outcome of this one.
Green Bay Packers (3-2) at Miami Dolphins (2-2)
The Packers will have had 10 days rest coming into Sunday’s game and the Dolphins are coming off of their bye week so both teams should be well-rested and healthy.
The Packers will face Dolphins starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill for the first time in his career. The Dolphins beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers the last time these teams met in 2010. As I always say with NFC/AFC match ups, they can be some of the most entertaining games to watch as the teams aren’t familiar with each other.
Miami is averaging over 142 yards per game on the ground and the Packers are allowing over 160. Miami’s obvious hope is to find success running it and controlling time of possession. Keeping Rodgers on the sideline is a big part of the Dolphins’ game plan.
Green Bay’s offense has found a groove over the last two weeks and have scored 80 points during that time. Miami has the ninth-ranked passing defense in the league so they will provide some resistance to the Green Bay passing attack that has moved the ball at will the past two games. Green Bay got their first individual 100-yard rushing performance last week from Eddie Lacy. Miami ranks 14th in run defense, giving up 107 yards per game. Against an unfamiliar opponent and based on his propensity for the pass, I expect Packers head coach Mike McCarthy to put the ball in Rodgers’ hands this week. However, if Lacy can contribute 50-75 yards and a score, Green Bay is probably having a good day with the ball.
The early forecast calls for 88 degrees and a chance of rain in Miami this week. After last week in Green Bay, the Packers shouldn’t be too phased if that weather holds up and they’re dealing with a wet ball.
The big key will be trying to shore up the run defense and not allowing Miami to hold onto the ball all day. The Green Bay secondary has shown improvement but they’ll likely be tested by receiver Mike Wallace, who can still get behind a defense and hit it big with the deep ball. If the Packers can create pressure on Tannehill, they should be able to force a few turnovers and leave Miami still in first place in the North.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: