Around the NFC North

We take you around the NFC North and check in on the Green Bay Packers and their rivals  the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings. After week one of the NFL season the Packers find themsleves all alone in first place.

Chicago Bears:   Fans of the Chicago Bears had to be pleased with their team despite their opening-game loss to the rival Green Bay Packers.  After getting rolled in both games last year by the Packers, this year’s team seemed to have a lot more grit and played the Packers nose-to-nose despite not having any more talent than last year’s club.  That is a tribute to Head Coach John Fox and his coaching staff.

The loss dropped the Bears to 1-12 in games against the Packers started by quarterback Jay Cutler in a 31-23 loss.  Cutler threw a fourth quarter interception which prevented the Bears, who were driving for a score at the time, from securing a victory over the Packers. 

It was the 23rd interception that Cutler’s thrown in games against the Packers, but the talk in the Bears locker room after the game wasn’t about the same old Cutler.  The coaching staff and fellow players alike were effusive in their praise of the Bears signal-caller.

“I thought Jay did a real good job” said Fox in his post-game comments.  “His pocket awareness - he had a couple of scrambles in there that I think were heads-up plays. He stepped up into the pocket. But against this football team, we weren’t quite as good as we needed to be.”

Fox went on to say that there were no moral victories in the NFL.  Fox is right; his team is still in last place, just where they ended last season. But at least now there is hope that the team is heading in the right direction.

Last Week: Lost at Home to Packers 31 - 23

This Week:  Bears host Arizona Cardinals

Season Record: 0 - 1

Place in NFC North:  Last

 

Detroit Lions:   The Lions gave away a game that they shouldn’t have lost this past Sunday.  After opening up a 21 – 2 lead the Lions lost to the Chargers 33-28. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 246 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The local press on Monday found that Stafford was sporting a large protective wrap around his right elbow.  Stafford injured the elbow of his throwing arm in the third quarter of the game and ended the game with the sleeve.  The signal-caller insisted that he will be “good to go” for Sunday’s contest against the Vikings.

Ameer Abdullah went into the game vs. the Chargers as the third string running back but that is likely to change quickly.  Abdullah was easily the most explosive player for the Lions against the Chargers.  Abdullah chalked up 50 yards rushing and another 44 yards receiving and was credited with one touchdown.

Lions’ fans were perplexed by the absence of throws to Pro Bowl wide receiver Calvin Johnson.   Megatron had exactly four targets in the game and ended with only two catches for 39 yards. While the overall passing game was anemic, the head-scratcher for the Lion was that quarterback Matthew Stafford didn’t go Johnson’s way more often.  Johnson told the media post-game that he is not the quarterback and simply trusts that Matthew Stafford is making the right calls. Head coach Jim Caldwell simply said they were reacting to what the defense gave them.  Still it was a curious start to the season.

The Lions defense was a sieve in San Diego.  As a result the Chargers can lay claim to the number one statistical offense in the league after racking up 483 yards against the toothless Lions Defense.

 

Last Week:  Lost to Chargers in San Diego 33 - 28

This Week:  Lions at Minnesota Vikings

Season Record: 0 - 1

Place in NFC North:  Last

 

 Minnesota Vikings:  There is major angst in Vikings-land after the 49’ers dominated the purple crew on Monday night.

The Lions fans weren’t the only ones who questioned why their star player had so little involvement in the game.  The same could be said for Vikings fans in questioning why Adrian Peterson was not used more often.  Peterson carried just 10 times for 31 yards in the Vikings 20 – 3 loss to the San Francisco 49’ers on Monday night.  Peterson's 31 yards tied for the eighth fewest of his career.  Chalk up the disappointing results to time-consuming drives by the 49’ers and the Vikings makeshift offensive line.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s stats were not bad (23 of 32 passes, for 72 percent completion, 231 yards to nine different receivers. He also rushed for 16 yards).  Yet his overall performance was far short of what the Vikings will need to lead them to the playoffs this season.

Just as disconcerting for the Vikings was the success that the Niners had on the ground vs. the Vikings defense.  Former Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde ripped the defense apart recording 168 yards on the ground and touchdown runs of 17 and 10 yards in his first career start. The Vikings seemed to have no answer for the nifty running back and with accomplished NFC North running backs Matt Forte and Eddie Lacy awaiting them, there is genuine cause for concern.

The Viking defense ranks dead last in the NFL in rushing yards after week one.

Last Week: Loss to San Francisco 49’ers 20-3

This Week:  Host the Detroit Lions

Season Record: 0 - 1

Place in NFC North:  Last

 

Green Bay Packers:  Some things change and some things don’t.  The Packers run defense after improving last year seems to have reverted back to their old ways against the Bears.

In analyzing the Packers poor effort against the Bears, the main culprit was their outside zone runs where an outside defender was blocked down which left the cut-back lanes the responsibility to the inside linebacker, safety or cornerback. When someone did make the tackle it was usually after Forte had a head of steam.  Forte was not stopped for a loss all game long.

"We weren't as assignment-clean as we needed to be," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said afterward. "We really didn't handle the outside zone with the flat footwork that we struggled with against Philadelphia in the preseason, and it was an issue again for us yesterday. That's a point of emphasis because obviously we're going to see it again this week with Seattle."

To further compound the issue of fixing their shoddy run defense the Packers got some bad news on the injury front.  The team disclosed that starting inside linebacker Sam Barrington will be lost for the year the result of a foot injury suffered in Sunday's game.  Barrington had become a solid contributor and leader of the defense and had been chosen to wear the communications helmet thus receiving coverage calls from the sidelines.

According to the statistics supplied by ProFootball Focus the Packers ranked 2nd in overall offense, 16th in overall defense and 24th in Special Teams. 

 On an individual basis ProFootball Focus, which rates every player in the league on every play, the following stats are notable: 

  • Aaron Rodgers QB rating of 140.1 was third in the league behind rookie Marcus Mariota and Tom Brady.
  • Eddie Lacy has the 6th most rushing yards in the league.  Not surprisingly the Bears Matt Forte is 2nd.  Both lead Seahawks halfback Marshawn Lynch who is ranked 9th -   Lynch is who the Packers will attempt to contain this coming Sunday at Lambeau Field.
  • Rookie Ty Montgomery has the 4th leading kickoff return average in the league at 35.3 yards per return.  It is obvious that with his skill level and the Packers emphasis on special teams that the team is far from the rag-tag squad trotted out last year under Shawn Slocum.
  • Recent signee James Jones is statistically the third highest rated receiver according to ProFootball Focus’ stats.  Jones is tied for the league lead in TD passes (2) and had one other nullified by a penalty.
  • Green Bay’s tight ends tallied a mere 27 receiving yards against the Bears.
  • The Green Bay defense is the second worst rushing defense in the league after week one.

Last Week: Win at Chicago 31 - 23

This Week: Home Opener at home vs. Seattle Seahawks

Season Record: 1 - 0

Place in NFC North:  First (alone)

 

              

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Comments (12)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:06 am

According to Forbes Magazine, the value of the GB franchise increased by 42% over last year. Analysts ascribed the increase to the firing of Shawn Slocum.

[Full disclosure: I heard this joke on the radio and thought I would share it.]

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porupack's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:57 am

Well, I guess Vikings's have a greater gap between their expectations v performance of their run defense than Packers, so I guess misery loves company. I was surprised how poorly they contained Carlos Hyde, but I imagine their front 7 tightens that up.

So who do we cheer to thump the other in Vikes v Lions? Are Vikes or Lions the most challenge for Packers?

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vj_ostrowski's picture

September 16, 2015 at 10:06 am

I would think the Lions. Teddy looks less further along that I expected. Much less.

Although, Stafford looks shaky too, and for some reason wasn't throwing at Calvin. I think Calvin is getting close to the end of his career. Look at Julio Jones, for a WR that everyone keys in on and still ends up with 150 yards and TDs galore. That's not Calvin anymore.

I'm rooting for them to beat the crap out of one another. I guess I don't care who wins.

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Big Moe's picture

September 16, 2015 at 10:23 am

"I'm rooting for them to beat the crap out of one another. I guess I don't care who wins."

lol

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porupack's picture

September 16, 2015 at 08:00 am

First I heard that Barrington was lost for season. Wow. Any FA ILBs out there? Seems that CM will need to spend yet more time at ILB.

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EddieLee's picture

September 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

I watched the first half of the Vikings/49ers game. I thought Bridgewater was terrible. The 49ers clearly focused on shutting down AP and were giving Bridgewater looks that he should of exploited in the passing game. He was inaccurate and couldn't process the progressions fast enough with the pressure. Surprised me considering how Bridgewater played at the end of last year.

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dobber's picture

September 16, 2015 at 11:10 am

Aside from the Barrington injury--which isn't the end of the world, BTW--week 1 played out about as well as we could've hoped: Lions, Vikes, and Bears all lose. None of them looked good, although the Lions and Vikes both lost to capable teams on the road. Frankly, the Bears looked better than either the Vikes or Lions.

A home game for the Vikes against the Lions should be telling in terms of where the respective units really are...inconsistent Lions O, surprisingly poor play by Lions defense, punchless Vikings O, poor run D by Vikes.

Looking at a 2-2 upcoming week for the NFC N, with Packers and Vikings as winners, Lions and Bears as losers.

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Since'61's picture

September 16, 2015 at 11:47 am

Dobber - If it works out as you posted with a win for the Pack and Vikes and losses for Lions and Bears, that is the best possible scenario for the Packers.
The Pack would be 2-0 with 2 conference wins and basically a 2 1/2 game lead on Seattle for NFC title game.
Vikes would be 1-1 with a conference loss but a division win
Lions 0-2 with a division loss
Bears 0-2 with a division and conference loss.
If the Lions win then the Vikes are 0-2 with a division and conference loss but the Lions would have a division win.
Either way the Pack is sitting pretty after 2 games.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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dobber's picture

September 16, 2015 at 01:18 pm

I'm betting that Seattle ends up missing Kam Chancellor much more than the Packers end up missing Sam Barrington.

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Icebowler's picture

September 16, 2015 at 03:08 pm

If we can tackle someone, we can win this game. That's a big IF! It would help if the old fogy season ticket holders would make some noise when Seattle has the ball.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

September 17, 2015 at 04:57 am

This post reads like those old Steve Harvey Bottom Ten articles. Hilarious.

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mwoston's picture

March 16, 2016 at 02:32 am

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