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Around the NFC North - Week 3

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Around the NFC North - Week 3

The Green Bay Packers can take some solace in the fact that after getting decimated by the Altanta Falcons, they getthe terrible Cincinnati Bengals while the Falcons can now hammer at the division leading Lions. It's too early to worry, and it's too early to get overconfident, but never too early to take a look at what is happening elsewhere in the NFC North.

And there's a lot going on.

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings welcome the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Minnesota this week, and it's going to be a very tough challenge. Tougher if quarterback Sam Bradford misses another game. A surprise inactive last week, Bradford is dealing with a bone bruise according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, because he's Sam Bradford and that's what he does. Head coach Mike Zimmer said Bradford is feeling better, which could mean he might play or could mean they have just kept him wrapped in foam packing and the moment he gets out of it and a butterfly lands on him, something else will break.

If you needed a clearer reason for why the Vikings will not want to pay for his contract next year and will preserve Teddy Bridgewater to make sure they don;'t have to, you'll likely get it as Bradford is lucky to get out of a chair intact.

Without Bradford though, this team is going to be hard pressed to beat the Bucs since that would leave rookie Dalvin Cook to carry the offense, something we saw last week that he can't do quite yet. The offensive line, the biggest question mark on this team heading into the season has been solid, and continues to improve. If Bradford is back, they should give him time to get his receivers involved again.

Tampa Bay had no issues beating the Bears last week, and while they are dealing with not having running back Doug Martin due to suspension, they can move the ball with other backs and also through the air. 

The Vikings defense looked pretty shaky last week in a 26-9 loss on the road against the Steelers, who struggled against the Cleveland Browns the week before. Part of that is because LeVeon Bell had finally shook off the rust—and the Bucs don't have a Bell. They do have a very good receiver in Mike Evans who, if he's not quite Antonio Brown, is very good in his own right. The Vikings secondary actually played Brown well last week, though they let Martavis Bryant torch them with 91 yards and a score on just three catches.

The defense should bounce back. 

All that being said, it comes down to Bradford and his knee. Case Keenum is terrible and if he's under center against this Bucs defense, it will get ugly, early.

Chicago Bears

Probably the most interesting thing about the Chicago Bears—who have the Pittsburgh Steelers arriving at Soldier Field this weekend—is that former Bears defensive back Peanut Tillman is apparently trying to become an FBI agent.

Because until they decide to stop messing around with Mike Glennon and give rookie Mitch Trubisky a shot, this team isn't just bad—it's boring.

They were no match for the Buccaneers last week, and they are unlikely to have anything to stop Antonio Brown, Ben Roethlisberger and LeVeon Bell from doing pretty much whatever they want to. Offensively, they are down to castoff Titans receiver Kendall Wright and the "Dr. Pepper" guy from those really annoying college football Dr. Pepper commercials as options in the passing game and their running back, Jordan Howard, has a hurt arm. They do have Tarik Cohen in the backfield as well, and he is a bit exciting, but we wonder what will happen early in the game when it isn't out of hand and the Steelers can focus on him.

This game shouldn't hold many surprises, unless Tillman parachutes in and arrests someone on the field.

Detroit Lions

The 2-0, NFC North leading Detroit Lions. 

Roll that around in your head for a minute. 

It's not like the Lions are beating the 1985 Bears or any season of the New England Patriots or anything. They out-scored what appears to be a pretty bad Arizona Cardinals team, and blew out a New York Giants team which has no offensive line.

They did make the Giants vaunted defense look silly, however, which makes them dangerous. The Giants defense is pretty good, even if they didn't look it last week, which means that this team can move the chains. Quarterback Matt Stafford is playing very well while Golden Tate and Marvin Jones have more than replaced Calvin Johnson over the last season or so.

Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for everyone else, the Lions run into the Atlanta Falcons this week. The Lions are at home, which is positive, but the Falcons are playing some of their best football right now—something the Packers can attest to.

This Lions defense will be tested by quarterback Matt Ryan and future Hall of Famer Julio Jones, while a combination of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will wear down the defensive front. They won't have the free range to waylay the quarterback either, as the Falcons offensive line is clicking. 

Offensively, the Lions can score points.They average 29.5 points per game during this young season, while the Falcons have only allowed an average of 20 points a game. It will be interesting to see if the Lions can get Kenny Golladay going again this week after he saw few targets against the Giants. Jones and Tate will get most of the defensive attention—that could mean Golladay is going to have to step up again for the Lions to win this one.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (25) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Mojo's picture

So as Packer fans, who do we want to win this week - Detroit or Atlanta?

I'd say Detroit. If we want to catch and pass Atlanta for home-field, we're going to need a little help. At least with Detroit we have a chance to beat them twice which should put us in pretty good stead in trying to get in front of them.

cuervo's picture

I was rooting for the Bears in week one, and they had the Falcons beat...but they are the Bears!

dobber's picture

I think you always need to root for divisional teams to lose, unless it's a team so far out of it that they're a non-issue--I'm looking at you, Bears.

Bearmeat's picture

Agreed. Detroit.

I do not buy their team for a flat second. They were lucky as hell to get to 9-7 last year. They didn't belong in the playoffs, and they haven't substantially improved.

RCPackerFan's picture

Also they have played the Cardinals and Giants. 2 teams really, really struggling.
Palmer looks like he is done.

dobber's picture

I tend to agree: they've had a good draw to start.

I think they come crashing down to earth this week.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

I'm not ready to claim the same old lion anymore. That defense may not be elite but top ten sure, and I expect them to around there all season. Also we have rodgers and because of that Stafford will always be looked at with almost a little brother type. The man is top ten and after watching him do very little to beat the giants, he going to a pain all season long. If Bradford returns I can see the pack record around 10 to 12 wins, at most. Not to say we wont win the division, but both the viks and lions are going to be a problem. I think I just threw up alittle.

dobber's picture

I live in a Detroit market. This defense has benefitted from playing a home opener against a broken and old Arizona team and a NYG team who can't protect their statuesque QB or set up a run game. They don't rush the passer and their front 7 are decidedly average, at best. Teryl Austin is a good DC, but they're going to struggle against good OLs and good QBs. Atlanta is going to dismantle them this week.

Nick Perry's picture

They've substantially improved on the offensive line, adding Ricky Wagner and T.J. Lang were excellent additions. I don't care who's lining up across from those two, they won't get close to Stafford and even Abdullah can have some success running behind those two. If Taylor Decker is able to come back for the last half of the season the Lions will have the best O-Line in the NFC North providing the other O-Linemen stay healthy.

Finwiz's picture

I think Detroit is eventually going to break through and learn how to win close games under pressure, then watch out. Stafford is a scary QB, I think he's really good.
Every year there's one team that's really good and comes out of nowhere. It could be Detroit this year.
If they beat ATL that will tell you all you need to know.

dobber's picture

Last year they got to 9 wins by winning a lot of close games under pressure. They overachieved in that regard.

Atlanta will expose them on Sunday.

Christopher Gennaro's picture

Well the opposite to that is that they learned that they are never out of it. You say they overachieved and you are right, but that team now has confidence. That confidence will be a difference this year, no more getting behind and just giving up. The same old lions died last year, they now have a true confidence in each other. That can make all the difference, and why I think they are going to ahead or right at the packers heels all season. I hate sunday game, but your last statement can be used on us too, we were exposed too.

dobber's picture

You could argue that the Packers got exposed 4 times in the middle of last season, too, but they bounced back.

The question is: when you've been exposed by Atlanta, how many other teams out there are good enough to follow the blueprint?

Jonathan Spader's picture

What's the blueprint Dobber? Play the Packers when they don't have their top defensive player, bookend tackles, and lose Jordy Nelson right away? The Packers got outplayed but I don't think Atlanta did anything special. They beat the hell out of Rodgers when the Packers couldn't protect him.

Johnblood27's picture

Close game wins a sure confidence boost driving a team to elite competitiveness?

See the 1989 GBP.

Not so much.

dblbogey's picture

I don't care for the Lions or Vikings. I still hate Alex Karras and Tarkenton. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Mojo's picture

Kind of interesting injury report from the Pack today.

M. Adams was a full participant. I think he suits up this week.

An injury I didn't know about was to Perry's hand. He had a DNP today. So did Daniels, Bakh, Cobb, House and Brice.

Jordy was a full participant as was Bulaga. So if Bakh misses the next game and Bulaga plays, who goes to LT between him and Murphy?

dobber's picture

I'll be interested to see how many of the DNPs are LPs tomorrow.

Packers re-sign RJF, too. No word on a corresponding roster move.

I think you put Bulaga on the right side and Murphy on the left. You at least get the benefit of a good player at his natural position.

Mojo's picture

Agree with Bulaga on the right and Murphy on the left. But there are those who believe you should take the better player (Bulaga probably) and put him on the more critical side.

rdent's picture

I would be glad to see Bulaga back he did practice on limited basis today.

rdent's picture

Ya Dobber I just read RJF is coming back and Monty Adams was a full participant in practice today but will he do much this year after missing all of camp and preseason, hope bringing back RJF does not signal Daniels will be out for an extended amount of time.

dobber's picture

All the indications were that Daniels's injury was not serious, but I think this signals that they might be thinking one of two things...
1. ..they might be planning to sit him anyway to keep the injury from lingering.
2. ...when they let RJF go, they really didn't want to--that they were going to try to skate by for a week given needs in other places--and now that they've found McCray can play RT, they feel that they can bring RJF back.

rdent's picture

I wonder who they will release to make room for RJF?

flackcatcher's picture

Got to be an OL, maybe pankey. I do not see them using IR to stash another OL, but (spitballing here) a could see them putting a DB like Bice on the list.

porupack's picture

Well done Andrew! Loved your assessment of Bradford. Had me laughing.

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