Around the NFC North

News from around the NFC North including defending champion and the first place Green Bay Packers and their rivals the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings.

Chicago Bears:   The Bears are generating more interest in what might happen off the field than on as of late.  Under-manned and in full rebuilding mode new GM Ryan Pace is rumored to be fielding calls from teams looking to acquire Bears’ star running back Matt Forte prior to the November 3 trade deadline.  It may be a hard sell though given Forte’s age (29 – old for a running back) and remaining $6.65M annual salary.

The name that keeps popping up most often as a trade partner is the Dallas Cowboys.

With Dez Bryant and Tony Romo returning to the team shortly and mired in a weak NFC East Forte could be part of the formula for securing make-up wins that would still earn Dallas the title.

Former high first round receiver Kevin White is also close to coming off PUP and participating for the first time all year.

The Bears are 2.5 point underdogs at home according to the latest betting line.

Last Week:   Bye

This Week:   At home vs. Vikings

Season Record:  2 - 4

Place in NFC North:    Third

Detroit Lions:  The Lions started off strong against the Vikings this last week jumping to a 14- 3 lead to the delight of their otherwise disgruntled fans.  It didn’t last. 

The Vikings went on to dominate the mistake-prone and seemingly unmotivated Lions 28 – 19.  QB Matthew Stafford was chased all game long by the Vikings defense and ended up being sacked 7 times.

Someone had to be held accountable by ownership looking for any scapegoat in the line of fire.  Heads needed to roll and they did.

Fired on Monday by HC Jim Caldwell were OC Joe Lombardi, offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn and assistant offensive line coach Terry Heffernan.  The firings might also be termed ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic”. 

Jim Bob Cooter, the former QB coach, will take over as OC and will also have responsibility for calling plays.  According to beleaguered Head Coach Jim Caldwell, this will be the first time that Cooter has called plays in his career.

Caldwell has the look of a desperate man who has few ideas on how to right the ship.  A couple more embarrassing losses and Caldwell may be next to walk the plank.

The Lions are 3.0 point underdogs according to OddsShark.com.

Last Week:   Lost at home vs. Vikings

This Week:   Lions vs. Chiefs in London, England

Season Record:    1 - 6

Place in NFC North:  Last

Minnesota Vikings:   The Vikings have now swept division rival the Detroit Lions behind a solid defensive effort, efficient QB play from Teddy Bridgewater and the continuing break-out performances by rookie wide-out Stefon Diggs.    

Adrian Peterson was not effective suffering from sickness after reportedly swallowing his ‘chew’ on a bumpy airplane flight into Detroit.  Peterson gained 98-yards rushing on 19 attempts, but 75 of them came on one run.

The win at Detroit was the first division win on the road for the Vikings since 2012.

The Vikings are a 2.5-point road team favorite this week.

Last Week:   Won at Detroit

This Week:   At Chicago vs. Bears

Season Record:   4 - 2

Place in NFC North:    Second

Green Bay Packers:  It will be the Battle of the Titans when two of the league’s five undefeated teams square off against one another on Sunday Night Football.  The contest will be held at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver. 

According to the Boston Globe and reported by Gilberto Manzano of NFL.com there have been 31 teams to start 6-0 during the 12-team playoff era and 29 have reached the January tournament. On average, teams that opened the year with six consecutive victories wrapped up the year with a 13-3 record, with 65 percent (20 of 31) of those teams finishing the year with 13 or more wins.

What’s more almost half of the teams (15) reached the Super Bowl while 8 of them took home the Lombardi trophy.

To say that this is a big-game - that will surely draw a huge national viewing audience - is putting it mildly.

Yet something unexpected is occurring in Denver this year.  The Broncos are winning with defense in spite of the performance of future HOF Peyton Manning.

Speculation is that Manning may have finally hit the wall and his great career may be swiftly coming to an end.  Manning is the 40nd ranked signal-caller (of players with more than 20 attempts) in the league with a QB rating of only 72.5.  His counterpart on the Packers, Aaron Rodgers, has a  QB rating of 115.9.  Manning has also thrown more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (7) and has completed only 61% of his passes.

The Packers offense is ranked 11th in yards per game (364.2 average) and 5th in scoring (27.3 points average).

The Packers bend-but-don’t-break defense is first in scoring - holding opponents to a measly 16.8 points-per-game average, but ranks only 14th in average yards allowing a still respectable 355.0. 

Denver’s stingy defense is ranked number one in average yards allowed at 281.3 and allowing teams to score at a paltry 17.0 points per game.  Clearly Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense will have its work cut out for it.

On the injury front the news is about as good as it gets.  Returning for practice this week, and presumably cleared to play against Denver, is starting safety Morgan Burnett (calf), starting wide receiver Davante Adams (ankle), starting nose tackle BJ Raji (groin) and outside linebacker Nick Perry (shoulder).  Raji is the only one of the four that might to be questionable for Sunday night’s match-up. 

Two players who sat out but were present for Monday’s practice were Ty Montgomery (ankle sprain) and James Starks.  Their availability won’t be known until later in the week.

Mike McCarthy and his staff typically use the bye week to self-scout and as a result his record emerging from the bye is impressive.  For his career as a head coach McCarthy has an 8-1 record.  That matches the great Marv Levy for the best record by an NFL coach in post-bye games (with a minimum of 8).

The home team has won six of the last eight meetings between these two teams. Green Bay is a 2.5-point road favorite.

Last Week:   Bye

This Week:   At Denver

Season Record:    6 - 0

Place in NFC North:    Still Alone in First Place

 

 

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Comments (14)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
shmelbs's picture

October 28, 2015 at 06:19 am

What are poultry points?

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Evan's picture

October 28, 2015 at 09:16 am

Beaks?

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Nick Perry's picture

October 28, 2015 at 06:39 am

The Packers have to get a push up the middle against Manning IMO. He's not going to move left to right too much and you know the ball is coming out in about 2 seconds. Knowing Manning he spent the bye week going over the game tape of the Chargers/Packers game so the Packers best have an answer on that quick passing game.

I said this in another post but I think it's worth mentioning. Rodgers has had a tremendous amount of success against Wade Phillips Defenses. He's played them twice that I can recall off the top of my head. In 2012 against Houston and Dallas in 2010. He's thrown 9 TD's and had a QB rating of over 130 each game. Obviously the teams are different but that Houston team was 5-0 going into the game with a defense that was tops in the NFL at the time. One last thing, as I listen to the different NFL reporters on the Radio and TV, I can't remember them finding more flaws in a 6-0 team as they have with the Packers. Never are the injuries the Packers have suffered mentioned, just "What's wrong with the Packers Offense" or "The Packers gave up 503 yards to Rivers". Hey if they go to Denver and Carolina and get waxed then okay, but I don't think that will happen. Just saying....

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 28, 2015 at 02:29 pm

This is a game I would use Peppers and Datone inside rushing. Their ht and length could be really disruptive for Manning as well as their quickness to get penetration. Daniels and Raji might be able to get there nearly as quick, but Manning will have no trouble throwing over them. Peppers and Datone could really disrupt his passing lanes too.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 28, 2015 at 02:51 pm

I do like that for rushers.

I would like to see a healthy rotation with Raji, Daniels, Peppers and Jones all rushing from the inside.

Outside, I still would like to see more from Elliott. He has the speed to get around the edge that Neal and Perry and Peppers don't have.

Also i would like to see a quite a bit of Mathews blitzing up the middle.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 28, 2015 at 06:54 am

After all, it may happen that NFC North will produce 2 teams for playoffs... Packers and Vikings. Another wild card team I guessing Falcons or Rams... It will be interesting season!

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Harlan Huckleby's picture

October 28, 2015 at 08:30 am

Leave it to the Lions to replace a Lombardi with a Jim Bob Cooter.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

October 28, 2015 at 09:13 am

Caldwell simply looks lost and out of place.

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Evan's picture

October 28, 2015 at 09:15 am

That's his MO. He's a mannequin.

I never understood that hire. Without Manning, what did he ever accomplish?

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Bearmeat's picture

October 28, 2015 at 10:40 am

simple - he was the complete opposite of that blowhard who was their last head coach. Classic over-reaction by an owner who doesn't know his head from a hole in the ground football wise.

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EdsLaces's picture

October 28, 2015 at 09:54 am

I was definitely gonna drop that name and ya beat me to it.

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Norm's picture

October 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Jim Bob Cooter? Sounds like two separate characters on The Dukes of Hazzard!

From CBS Sports: "In 2009, Cooter was hit with an aggravated burglary charge after he "climbed through a woman's window, stripped down to his underwear and got into bed with the woman," according to WVLT-TV in Knoxville." I've tried that approach too, didn't work for me either.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

October 28, 2015 at 09:11 am

I believe the key for the Packers is to keep Rodgers upright.

Providing Rodgers doesn't get sacked with a fumble loss, I expect the Packers to prevail.

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PackerBacker's picture

October 28, 2015 at 09:30 am

Jeff, I think you mean PALTRY, not POULTRY.

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