7

November

Around the NFC North in Week 10

Around the NFC North

Around the NFC North in week 10

Week 10 brings about two great matchups in the NFC North.  With the Green Bay Packers on a bye, the Chicago Bears host the Houston Texans while the Detroit Lions travel to Minnesota to finish out their season series against the Vikings.  Let’s look at some of the storylines surrounding the games.

Houston Texans (7-1) at Chicago Bears (7-1)

This is the marquis matchup for the NFL’s week 10 slate and is the Sunday Night game.  Each team comes in having lost just one game and playing well.  Chicago has won six straight and Houston has bounced back from their first loss of the season and won their last two in a row.  Each team’s last loss came at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.

Defense is the name of this game.  Houston ranks 3rd overall in yardage allowed (286/game) while Chicago ranks 6th (318/game).

The Bears are leading the league in takeaway’s with 28 and takeaway ratio at +16.  They’re turning those takeaway’s into points and have seven interception returns for scores this season by five different players.  Their defense has become nearly as potent, in terms of scoring, as their offense.

Chicago is tied with New England for fumbles caused with 11.  Just last week, Chicago forced five fumbles, two by CB Charles Tillman.  Tillman has been hot after the ball this season and has seven caused fumbles and has two of Chicago’s interception returns for touchdowns.  Some say he’s an early candidate for Defensive Player of the Year.

Houston has 24 sacks on the season, led by defensive end J.J. Watt who also leads the league with 10.5.  Like Chicago,Houston is making a good living on the defensive side of the ball.  They have nine interceptions and are just one behind Cleveland for the AFC lead in that category.  The Texans are giving up just over 82 yards/game and will look to stonewall Chicago’s ground game that is currently averaging 128.5 yards.

The key in this game will be the defense that can hold the line of scrimmage and stop the run.  Both of these teams mirror each other in many ways and this game is a possible preview of Super Bowl XLVII, at least at this point.  The winner takes another step towards solidifying themselves as a top contender in their conference and in the league overall.

12

April

Packers Prospect Profile — DE J. J. Watt, University of Wisconsin

1) Profile:

J. J. Watt

College: University of  Wisconsin

Position: DE

Height: 6′5″   Weight: 290 lbs.

Born: March 22, 1989 From: Pewaukee, WI

 2) High School / College Highlights: A Wisconsin First-team All-State selection at BOTH tight end and defensive end, Watt was also the Wisconsin State shot put champion as a HS senior. Watt was not as heavily recruited as you might think, mostly because of his lean frame. Watt accepted a scholarship offer from Central Michigan, starting every game at tight end for the Chippewas. After a year away from his home state, Watt returned as a walk-on to the University of Wisconsin.  Watt spent a red-shirt year hitting the weight room, switched to defense and was named defensive scout player of the year. Watt would start every game for the Badgers over the next two seasons, and was named All Big ten and second team All-American.

3) College Stats: 26 games, 106 tackles, seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, and an interception.

4) NFL Combine Results: 4.76 40-yd dash, 34 bench press reps, 37″ vertical jump, 10′ long jump, 6.88 3-cone, 4.21 20-yd shuttle.

5) Strengths/Weaknesses: Once thought of as more of an “intangibles” player that succeeded via max effort alone, Watt started to change that perception during the Badgers run to the Rose Bowl.  If any scouts were still thinking that way, Watt’s NFL Combine performance put an end to that. Watt finished in the top 5 among DL in every category, as well as the top 20 among all performers in five out of six categories (long jump was his only miss). Not bad for a defensive lineman, huh?

Watt may be the most versatile DE prospect coming out of the draft. He played from both a 3-point stance and standing up. He is stout against the run and tenacious in the pass rush. Watt has a variety of pass rush moves, but his techniques need refinement.

Watt uses his height, long arms and jumping ability to good advantage, knocking down passes and even blocking a few kicks. He uses his hands very well to keep blockers from getting into his body. Plays with good pad level, which helps him against the run,  but he needs to get  a lot stronger. If you can call a 290 pound human being lean, Watt is the definition.