Around the NFC North: Preseason Week 2

A quick look around the NFC North heading into Week 2 of the preseason.

The first week of the preseason is behind us, but there's still a ways to go before the Packers (and their divisional foes) have their rosters set for opening day. Let's take a look around the NFC North at some of the recent news for each team.

Chicago Bears

The Bears played the Carolina Panthers in week one of the preseason, losing 23-13. They took a 10-6 lead into the locker room at halftime before being outscored 17-6 after the break.

-The first-team offense didn't show a whole lot of spark, but there was a bright spot in rookie running back David Montgomery, who carried three times for 16 yards and a touchdown and caught an additional three balls for 30 yards. The billing on Montgomery coming out of college was that he could be a versatile playmaker, and it's looking as though the Bears are going to get him involved in the offensive game plan however they can. Between him and Tarik Cohen, the Bears could have a pretty dynamic backfield on their hands.

-The Bears were one of the NFL's least-injured teams in 2018, but they may have suffered a bit of a blow to their offense yesterday in practice. Wide receiver Anthony Miller was carted off the practice field with a foot injury. Any time you see the cart come out, it's not good news, but head coach Matt Nagy seemed to think it wasn't serious. We'll see what the official medical report is later this week. 

-Keeping an eye on the kickers: Elliott Fry was the better player in the Bears' first preseason game, hitting a 43-yard field goal, while his competition Eddy Pineiro was one for two, missing a 48-yarder but connecting on a 23-yarder. Still too early to say who the Bears will have at the kicker spot come the regular season, but safe to say they're hioping to avoid another double doink situation.

Detroit Lions

The Lions suffered a 31-3 spanking in their preseason opener against the defending champion New England Patriots. 

-The Lions allowed a total of nine sacks in the game, and had just 21 net passing yards (80 yards lost in sacks from the 101 total passing yards by backup quarterbacks Tom Savage and David Fales). It was a brutal offensive showing for the Lions, who didn't get on the board with a field goal until the final minutes of the game. This was an absolute thumping, and while it's good to get your stinkers out of the way in the preseason, even for an early August contest without Matt Stafford this had to have Lions fans concerned about their depth situation.

-Wide receiver Jermaine Kearse broke his leg on the fifth play of the game, and the Lions ultimately placed him on injured reserve Saturday. It's a big blow to the receiver depth on the team, a position that's already not exactly a spot of strength for the Lions.

-Primary backup Tom Savage also suffered a concussion in the first half, his third in four years. Coach Matt Patricia did not have any answers for how long Savage would be sidelined. It is telling, though, that the team signed journeyman backup Josh Johnson yesterday. 

Minnesota Vikings

The Packers' rivals to the west notched a 35-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints in the first week of preseason. 

-An interesting tidbit: Kirk Cousins was the only NFC North starting QB to play at all in the first week of the preseason. He looked sharp in the Vikings' new offensive system, going 4/4 for 65 yards and a touchdown before being promptly pulled. The Vikings looked about as sharp with their first-team offense as one could hope for (if one were a Vikings fan) coming out of the offseason.

-The Vikings also had quite a few role players make a positive impact, including some who could be on the roster bubble. Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah both broke off long runs. De'Angelo Henderson had a solid outing at tailback. Backup QB Kyle Sloter went 6/7 for 62 yards and a touchdown. Hercules Mata'afa made a striking impression as a disruptive player on defense. 

-The big area of concern for the Vikings coming out of the game was the staggering 13 penalties they committed. The level of concern here will likely be relatively low for the Vikings, as early August football tends to be sloppy. But it is something the team will need to address immediately.

 

As always in early August, it's far too soon to tell how the division will stack up this season. But everyone (ok, well, maybe everyone except the Lions) in the division has some positives to take away from their first live game action of the year.

__________________________

Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.

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Comments (19)

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Qoojo's picture

August 11, 2019 at 10:10 am

The way I watch preseason games, to get a gauge on the team and a feel for their potential in the season, is to view the game by strings. Just keep a mental tally of which team won the 1s vs 1s, 2s vs 2s, ... Then the winner of the game for me is the winner of the 1s vs 1s portion. Who wins the 2s and very early 3s will tell you how the backup quality will fare when injuries take place.

Usually, there's not much to watch in the preseason when it comes to starters, but if you see the same problems as the previous year when 1s play, then early/mid season is probably going to look the same as previous year.

Judging backup quality all depends on the team that they are playing. 2s/3s/4s doing well against a perennial loser team, doesn't say much. But holding their own against a decent team like the Texans is a good sign.

All that to say that the scores from preseason games are meaningless without knowing the points scores by quarter. Pretty much everything in the 2nd half of preseason game is worthless.

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Nick Perry's picture

August 11, 2019 at 10:37 am

Like the Texans 16 points in garbage time?

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Tundraboy's picture

August 11, 2019 at 11:46 am

Nice one Nick

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Qoojo's picture

August 11, 2019 at 11:57 am

I guess I am really missing the point if that was a nice one or some sort of sarcasm.

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SmallmouthBass's picture

August 11, 2019 at 02:03 pm

The score was 28-10 starting the fourth. Game was essentially over.

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Qoojo's picture

August 11, 2019 at 11:48 am

Most of the second half was played by guys that won't be in the league in 3 weeks, so yea. Th entire first game was pretty pointless for anything other than backup assessment.

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mnklitzke's picture

August 12, 2019 at 08:27 am

Like the '08 Lions going 4-0 in preseason and 0-16 in the regular season?

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Jonathan Spader's picture

August 11, 2019 at 11:05 am

Ameer Abdullah broke off a long run but he still has issues with ball security. He coughed up a fumble. It'll be interesting to see the Vikings backfield in 2019. What type of shape will Cook return in post injury?

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Ryan3468's picture

August 11, 2019 at 12:29 pm

The Lions really haven’t had a decisive victory since the Christians.

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Bearmeat's picture

August 11, 2019 at 12:42 pm

LOL!

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MarkinMadison's picture

August 11, 2019 at 01:00 pm

Unfortunately, the Packers were looking UP at the Lions last year.

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Fastenerpuller's picture

August 11, 2019 at 01:23 pm

Touché

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Leatherhead's picture

August 11, 2019 at 01:30 pm

Thank you for this division update. IMO, it’s always about Winning the Division. Almost 40% of our games are against those three teams so the focus should be there, and sadly, many of us aren’t really that knowledgeable about our division.

Last year, it was Bears, Vikes, Packers, Lions, and we were 1-4-1 in the division, a half game out of the basement. Our first two games are going to tell us a lot about our team in relation to the rest of the division. If we beat Chicago, we’re instant contenders; if we start 0-2, we’ve got trouble.

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Ryan3468's picture

August 11, 2019 at 06:50 pm

Still a whole lot of ballgame left even at 0-2. The Super Bowl isn't won now or month or so from now. It'll be what it'll be, and it should prove to be a good ride. Currently it's all about getting that 90 down to the best 53. The rest will be what they can make it be. If you want to fear the Bears, and their excellent defense, and average young, not that smart at all, athletic quarterback, and good coaching staff than fine. Long term I like that the Bears still don't have The Quarterback at the helm. Nor do the Lions, nor do the Vikings. It's never easy. If it was, none of this would be very interesting.

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holmesmd's picture

August 12, 2019 at 12:09 am

Stanford is a very good QB. Trubisky was in the Pro Bowl last season. Cousins blows but the other 2 aren’t as bad as you profess.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 12, 2019 at 10:40 am

So wrong about Cousins.

If you look at all NFL QBs over the last 4 years (2015-2018), Cousins is right there with Rodgers .

He’s started every game, along with Rivers, Wilson, Stafford, and Ryan. Rodgers has 55 starts out of 64.

In passer rating, he is 8th, Rodgers is 7th. In wins, Cousins is 8, Rodgers 11. In TDS, Rodgers is 7th, with one more than Cousins. In Net Yards/attempt they were 11th and 12th.

I could go on . Over the last several years, Cousins has been one of the better QBs in the league.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 12, 2019 at 10:26 am

I agree with all that. Titles are won in December. I’m just saying that 0-2 in the division with a home loss wouldn’t be encouraging. Whereas 2-0 means we’re in great shape.

I’m going to disagree with you on Trubisky. Well regarded out of college, drafted very high, a good team around him......

He improved a lot in his first full season as a starter, went 11-3, and if he makes any more improvement then he’s going to be a problem. He turns many drive-killing sacks into first down runs and he moves the offense and gets points on the board.

It would be a mistake to be dismissive of him, IMO.

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White92's picture

August 12, 2019 at 02:01 pm

My 2 cents. Titles aren't won in September, but can be lost there.

Stafford will have some problems now without Kearse. I'm not a Cousins fan. He hasn't won anything significant.

Turbisky is the wildcard. He is still mistake prone. If he figures it out, they will be very dangerous.

I am biased of course, but I'm still not a huge believer in Chicago. They played a last place schedule last year and only beat 1 playoff team which was vs a West Coast team at home in the freezing cold. They then lost as fairly big favorites at home in the playoffs. Add to that they were relatively injury free. They could certainly prove me wrong, but I ain't crowning their asses yet.

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MarkinMadison's picture

August 13, 2019 at 07:40 am

I think that last paragraph nails it. Teams don't tend to go injury free two years in a row. The law of averages just kills you. If the Packers can somehow manage to pull a win out of the hat on opening day I think they'll manage to win the division.

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