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November

Week 9 Packers Stock Report: NFC North Edition

Through eight weeks, Matt Forte might be the runner-up to Aaron Rodgers for NFC North MVP.

While the Green Bay Packers were enjoying their bye week, some potential challengers for the top seed in the NFC struggled on Sunday. The Saints laid an egg against the Rams. The Giants had to rally to beat the Dolphins, and the Cowboys got destroyed by the Eagles.

Meanwhile, the Lions overcame the power of Tebow to improve to 6-2 and the 49ers took care of business aginst the Browns to improve to 6-1.

In other news, the Vikings got a little bit of good fortune to win their second game and the Bears joined the Packers in taking the week off.

Even though the Packes didn’t play, their stock went up. If you watched any football at all this weekend, you’d be hard pressed to find a team that could beat the Packers right now. But instead of spending another stock report praising all that is right in Cheeseland, lets devote some attention to other stocks throughout the NFC North.

Which players in the NFC North are on the rise and could give the Packers some fits down the stretch? Which players are playing at a steady level and which have dropped off a cliff?

Rising

Matt Forte
Bears RB
A new contract might not be in his immediate future, but that hasn’t stopped Forte from carrying the Bears’ offense. In addition to 672 rushing yards and 5.4 yards-per-carry, Forte also has 38 catches for 419 yards. To put those receiving numbers in perspective, the only Packers player with more receptions is Greg Jennings (42). The only Packers receivers with more yards through the air are Jennings (677) and Jordy Nelson (465).

I know the Packers offense doesn’t rely solely on one or two players, but those comparisons are still eye-opening.

Calvin Johnson
Lioms WR
Speaking of eye-opening, Calvin Johnson has left many DBs wide-eyed this season. Johnson is averaging six catches for 101 yards and over one TD per game. More importantly, he makes defenders and coaching staffs feel helpless when trying to stop him.

How do you stop a guy that’s bigger than some TEs, runs faster than a lot of WRs and jumps higher than a lot of NBA players? Tramon Williams, Charles Woodson and Dom Capers better figure something out.

11

December

NFL Week 14: Packers-Lions Preview: They’re Focused and Not Lion

As the Green Bay Packers prepare for the Detroit Lions, lets take a quick look back at last week.

The defeated the 49ers by a score of 34-16 to move to 8-4 on the season and remain one game back of the Chicago Bears in the NFC North.

Aaron Rodgers continued his hot streak throwing for 298 yards and 3 TDs and rookie running back James Starks made his much anticipated debut gaining 74 yards on the ground giving the Packers some hope in their lackluster running game.

This week, the Packers head back out on the road to face the 2-10 Detroit Lions at Ford Field.  The Lions are coming off a hard fought loss to the Bears, falling by a score of 24-20.

As easy as it has been to overlook the Detroit Lions the last few years, they can’t be ignored any longer. This is a big trap game for the Green Bay Packers and from what they’ve told local media, they know it too.

Breaking down the Lions

Sam Shields summed up the Lions perfectly this week when he said “2-10 record….10-2 talent.” Indeed, these are no longer the Matt Millen Lions.

Despite the poor record, the Lions have been competitive in nearly every game they have played in including a near-win over the Packers at Lambeau Field earlier this season.  Throw in the fact they’ve done this without quarterback Matthew Stafford and it makes it all the more impressive.

With Stafford still out and second stringer Shaun Hill now injured with a broken finger, the Lions will start Drew Stanton this Sunday.  Stanton is a bigger quarterback than Hill and with weapons like Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson at his disposal, he shouldn’t feel like he has to put the whole game on his shoulders.

Johnson and Burleson are big receivers who aren’t afraid to go over the top to make the catch and can also make plays with their legs.  The Packers secondary, especially if they are without Charles Woodson, will face a challenge with those two.

With Jahvid Best nursing a turf toe injury, the Lions rushing attack will likely be a non-factor.  Kevin Smith could get the bulk of carries, but he isn’t anywhere bear the explosive player Best is.

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October

Packers-Lions Preview: 2010 NFL Week 4: Packers Looking to Recapture their Swagger

Oy.

That single word sums up the feelings of the entire fandom of the Green Bay Packers following their sickening loss to the Chicago Bears this past Monday, dropping their record to 2-1 and placing them one game behind the first place Bears.

To sum up that game in a word: penalties. Make that two words: stupid penalties. OK, three words: really stupid penalties. The 18 infractions by the Packers tied a team record that was set back in 1945. There is little to no doubt that those penalties cost the Packers the game including two that nullified Jay Cutler interceptions.

Moving right along, the Packers face the Detroit Lions at home this Sunday in a game in which the Packers must recover their swagger in order to keep their  Super Bowl aspirations alive. A win, preferably a resounding one, and the Pack is back on track. A loss however, and the season will come off the rails. The Packers have not lost to the Lions at Lambeau in 20 years and a loss now would blow up the season.

How the Packers respond to the loss to the Bears will dictate this game and possibly the rest of the season.

Breaking down the Lions

Don’t let the 0-3 record fool you, folks. The Lions are much better than last year and could be a year away from challenging for the division title.

With starter Matthew Stafford out, Shaun Hill once again gets the start for the Lions. Despite not having anything near as strong an arm as Stafford, the Lions offense has been able to keep on trucking while Stafford’s shoulder heals.

Hill is complemented by a stellar receiving corps led by Calvin Johnson. As Detroit’s version of Jermichael Finley, he can give defensive backs fits with his size, speed, and seemingly inhuman vertical leap to grab balls. He will undoubtedly provide Charles Woodson a challenge, who faces a distinct disadvantage in the size department.

The biggest potential for explosive plays on the offense comes surprisingly from rookie running back Jahvid Best. A threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball, he will provide the Packers linebacking corps a solid challenge and another dual threat for the second week in a row after facing the Bears’ Matt Forte. best has been fighting a turf toe injury, but is expected to play in what will be a game day decision.