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Around the NFC North - Week 1

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Around the NFC North - Week 1

We’ve made it! Finally the NFL season is upon us and we can stop pretending to care about baseball.

Unfortunately, for many in Houston, Florida, Oregon and California, football is less pressing than hurricanes and forest fires. So before we dive into the NFC North this week, we hope all our readers—as well as their families and friends—are safe and healthy, and continue to be so throughout the crises in those affected areas.

Now, on to the Not-Green Bay Packers teams in the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

This weekend I covered a local high school football game, and the home team pummeled the visitors 31-0. In talking to the coach of the winning team after the game, he asked if I would be at the following home game, this Saturday.

I said no, I’d be elsewhere, to which he responded “Ah, that’s fine. We’re going to lose by 50.All I want to do is get out of it healthy.”

I share this to illustrate how bad I think this game will be. A ticked off Atlanta Falcons team still stewing off one of the greatest collapses in Super Bowl history will play a Chicago Bears team which...does anyone know what this team is doing?

Head coach John Fox appears to be just killing time trying to figure out when the next job opening could happen. The team has decided, despite trading up to grab a new quarterback (which, frankly, I wouldn’t have done but that’s one of many reasons why I’m not a GM.) but not start the guy, going with Mike Glennon, a guy who looked awful in preseason until the last week when he looked serviceable against Tennessee.

The Bears are determined to bring him along slowly, and while you can understand not wanting to throw him behind that line, there's a good chance he ends up not getting many snaps as a backup.

The receivers they have are underwhelming, and several are hurt. Cameron Meredith suffered a torn ACL was lost for the season, and while that should create more opportunities for players like Kendall Wright and Zach Miller, those guys are still Wright and Miller.

They do have a nice running back in Jordan Howard, but he’s going to see a lot of stacked boxes and get little help from the offensive line, though at least the guards are stout.

If there is one bright spot, it's been linebackers Danny Trevathan and Leonard Floyd. Both have played well this summer and they, along with soon-to-be-healthy Prince Amukamara could make this defense better than it appears on paper.

Detroit Lions

Detroit is like that guy who sits in your group at lunch, occasionally adds something interesting to the conversation, but quickly fades into the background later.

He’s not incredibly attractive or ugly, not tall or really short, not compelling, but also not completely forgettable.

The Lions are just there.

It’s going to be hard to get a real read on this team  this week because the Arizona Cardinals are a bit of a mystery. The defense wasn’t as dominant last year but doesn’t seem to have improved much.

The offense is only as good as Carson Palmer and David Johnson are, but one has been hurt too frequently and the other can only do so much facing stacked fronts with an iffy offensive line.

Ameer Abdullah had himself an impressive camp, and could end up the main back the Lions have been missing for several years. Theo Riddick still got a lot of work in camp and preseason, but he's more of a third down back. Abdullah showed off a lot of quickness and an ability to make sharp cuts which could create some problems for defenses.

Golden Tate and Marvin Jones continue to be the focal point of the passing game and they've looked in sync with Matt Stafford this summer. The passing offense looked solid last year, but it got inconsistent later in the season, and the Lions are focusing on not allowing that to happen again.

The defense continues to be pretty good, but there have been hiccups, especially at defensive end. Kerry Hyder is out for the year, and Ziggy Ansah was on the PUP. The Lions need to find some players in their depth—which they did a good job building up—if they are to slow down offenses.

Minnesota Vikings

Welcome home, Adrian Peterson, hope you survive the experience!

This is actually the other game Packers fans might find interesting to watch. The Vikings have to prove the offensive line is better, the defense will be well tested by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and the passing game and they’ll get to see a good runner in the form of Minnesota rookie Dalvin Cooke.

They’ll also get to see Peterson, or the shadow of his old self. Even before injury last season, Peterson looked like he had lost more than a few steps. He’s going to have a hard time against this Vikings defensive front, and will also struggle to get into a rhythm with what will likely be an inconsistent amount of carries.

This offseason has been a lot of "Where in the world is Teddy Bridgewater?" The Vikings aren't really forthcoming with his progress and seem fine with having Sam Bradford hold the fort one more year.

Rookie Dalvin Cook has looked very good in the preseason, and it should be interesting to see how Peterson's heir apparent plays in a real game.

The receivers ended up looking much the same as last year—Stefon Diggs is the top guy and Adam Thielen will get plenty of looks. Michael Floyd is likely to be an also-ran again, and Laquan Treadwell looks like another miss by the Vikings scouting staff, though it's still too soon to call it completely.

Of course, the offensive line holds the key to anyone having a chance to be good. They are definitely looking improved and Riley Reiff makes* the left side look positively Hall of Fame worthy compared to what it normally looks like. Mike Remmers has done pretty well, also.

We'll see what that means this weekend. The Saints defense isn't fantastic, but neither is the Vikings offensive line to be honest.

The defense was hot and cold this August, so it remains to be seen if Mike Zimmer can make it another year of excellent play or not. They got tore up by the Seahawks in week three of the preseason, so there is clearly work that needed to be done.

*An earlier version of this article mentioned Alex Boone, who was cut. Which just goes to show you 1) our commentors are sharp eyed and 2) the Vikings offensive line might be better off playing players who don't exist.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Ibleedgreenmore's picture

Anyone else seeing black on green barely can make it out.

pacman's picture

Yes. Not much interesting to read anyways about the division. Hopefully, just small bumps to run over during the season.

Now that it's time to start posting again, I'm just going to take a moment to write briefly about my visit to Lambeau a few weeks ago. It was my first visit as I live in the NY area. I've been a fan since the 60's and I went with my wife and 16 yr old son. We flew into Chicago and drove up early to catch a public practice. It was a beautiful (not hot) day and we got there just in time for the bicycle parade. Just a beautiful site that started the day off. I got a high 5 from Jordy and Janis. The practice was nice to see but didn't seem all that serious. But seeing the players in person from pretty close is just something that makes you feel more part of the game. I was dreaming to ask Jordy to race my kid who is very fast and a Nelson fan but I knew that was very unlikely<g>. We took the stadium tour and visited the Hall of Fame. I was surprised how really nice the HOF was. All that history coming through. Lombardi quotes, his desk, the stories, etc. All in all a really nice day. Strongly suggested for those that can make it.

Ok - now it's time to start the SB run. I think AR should start it off this week by declaring a SB now. Seems like the team seems to rally around his words more than the coaches. Let's do it!

pacman's picture

One more note - Martellus Bennett is an awesome site and he will lead us to the SB. It's like an automatic TD near the goal line.

RCPackerFan's picture

Just a helpful hint. Just click on the words and highlight them and you can read it just fine. This is assuming your using a PC to read it.

MarkinMadison's picture

Thanks!

RCPackerFan's picture

No problem.

it was hard to read, so that helped.

ottscay's picture

Um, Alex Boone was cut by the Vikings and picked up by the Cardinals, so I doubt he's doing much to improve the Vikings offensive line this year?

dobber's picture

Their (Minnesota's) OL is still a mess. Elflein will be a keeper, but they displaced Berger for him to play. Remmers, Reiff, and whatever warm body they have playing RG are average at best.

dobber's picture

Detroit and Chicago lose. Vikings win.

dschwalm's picture

Fire the art director. Can't see BLACK ON GREEN.

Jersey Al's picture

lol - not intentional. Some wonky issue with this post...

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

OK Guys...its football time. Like pacman, I haven't been commenting much, mainly because I cannot login from my Iphone. Only online. So that being said, here's what I've been holding back:

1) It's preseason for heaven's sake. It doesn't matter that our cut guys looked like crap against their cut guys.
2) The quality of our depth doesn't matter nearly as much as you think unless we are hit by injuries concentrated at one position (like CB last year, WR the year before). Very tough to plan for, so you do the best you can and depend on the next man up.
3) Practice squad guys that see time during the regular season are few and far between. The bottom of the 53 doesn't even dress on game days. I'm just not going to get worked up about 6th-7th receivers and 9th-10th offensive linemen.
4) If/when the injuries come, they will likely be spaced out over the year. Replacements will probably have the benefit of 1, 2, or even 3 months of practice, lifting, and class time to get better than they were in the preseason.
5) Likewise, if our younger guys aren't fully there yet, they will improve as the season progresses (see Atlanta's D last year).

This is an exciting time for an excellent team. The scheduling of Lambeau games 4 days apart in September enables me to take in 2 games this year! The Super Bowl in MN will be like a home game for us. I, for one, am ready for a magical season.

croatpackfan's picture

Bravo!
You and me see things similar.

MarkinMadison's picture

So basically, what you're saying, is the Bears still suck?

dobber's picture

They may be worse than they were last year, yes.

flackcatcher's picture

What in heck happened to the Bears front office. (Not that I'm complaining:)

dobber's picture

FFL folks, check your rosters: apparently Miami/Tampa has been postponed to Week 11 due to the hurricane.

Tundraboy's picture

Ho hum. Just waiting for Packers game.

zeke's picture

<p>Maybe it&#39;s just wishful thinking, but I see Atlanta struggling with a massive SB hangover this year. &nbsp;Maybe not against <strike>Rutgers</strike>&nbsp;Chicago, but I think it catches up with them.</p>

dobber's picture

They have always had stretches where Ryan and the offense play way over their heads under Mike Smith, but they usually came back down to earth toward the end of the season and looked average. Last season, they stayed there pretty much from start to finish. We'll see if the absence of Shanahan makes any difference in how they play. They've been very spotty in the preseason.

Hard_work23's picture

Thanks for such a nice post.

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"I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious."
"The Bears still suck!"
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