With many NFC North divisional games approaching, I thought this might be a good opportunity to ask an intriguing question about this weekend’s matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears: Who do most Packers fans typically want to win this game? Let’s pretend that we’re in the land of make believe and that the natural answer of “neither” is not an option.
It would seem logical to think that the largest determiner is “which scenario helps the Packers most?” Obviously, the Bears are closest to the Packers in the divisional standings so it would seemingly benefit Green Bay more if the Vikings were to win. The Bears are the better team of the two as long as they have a healthy Jay Cutler at quarterback. They pose the bigger threat to the Packers’ chances of winning the division and with no guarantee of a wild card spot, getting into the playoffs at all.
Another argument could be made that the Vikings are already having a much better season than most thought and the Packers don’t want to have to contend with a hot Minnesota team when they finally meet in two weeks. Minnesota is still over .500 and has shown that they can play with any team on any given day. I cite their impressive win over the San Francisco 49ers earlier this season who, at the time, were undefeated and playing better than any other team at that point. The Vikes have also swept the Detroit Lions already this season. Read more...(798 words + 3 images, estimated 3:12 mins reading time)
Well, I dropped the ball my friends. My apologies to all for not getting this post up sooner and in light of today’s matchup between the Detroit Lions and Houston Texans. I am feverishly writing this on Turkey Day and I won’t take a single bite until this is up for your reading pleasure. With that, I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving weekend!
This week brings a full slate of NFC North football starting with the Thanksgiving day matchup. The Chicago Bears square off against the Minnesota Vikings for the first time this season and the Packers round off the weekend with the Sunday Night game at the New York football Giants.
Let’s look at the matchups a bit more closely and see what’s to come.
Houston Texans (10-1) at Detroit Lions (4-7)
Well, Houston pulled it out in another overtime thriller. I could have tried to pass myself off as a prophet and claim that I knew the Lions would take the 9-1 Texans to the brink, but all it takes is a glance at my record in the prediction posts. It’s clear that I don’t own a crystal ball. Or at least an accurate one. So on we go. . .
Minnesota Vikings (6-4) at Chicago Bears (7-3)
The big question in this game for the Bears is once again the health status of starting quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler has been cleared to practice in a limited capacity but still has not been cleared by an independent neurologist to resume full play. Read more...(1300 words + 3 images, estimated 5:12 mins reading time)
Week 11 brings about some intriguing plotlines around the NFC North. The Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers both lost their starting quarterbacks for portions of this past Sunday’s game. The Green Bay Packers finally see a divisional opponent in old foe the Detroit Lions. The Minnesota Vikings have their bye this week after beating the Lions to complete the sweep in that series. Here is a breakdown of the two matchups in the Black & Blue division this week.
Chicago Bears (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1)
The storyline in this Monday Night Football contest is that in this past week’s game, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith and Bears quarterback Jay Cutler were both knocked out with a concussion. Each missed the entire second half of their game. Both Smith and Cutler will go through the league-mandated concussion protocol and need to be cleared before resuming football activities.
As of Wednesday, it was being reported that Smith was cleared to resume play and is expected to start on Sunday. If Smith can’t go for some reason, he would be replaced by Colin Kaepernick. The Bears have not yet commented on their expectations for Cutler’s status this week. Cutler’s backup is Jason Campbell. In such a crucial matchup, this is a situation to monitor as the week goes on.
Before last Sunday’s game (and besides mop up duty), Campbell had appeared for just one snap in an October 22nd game against the Detroit Lions. Cutler was viciously taken down by Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh and came out for just one play before returning. Read more...(1124 words + 3 images, estimated 4:30 mins reading time)
Week 8 is upon us which means the season is almost half over! Let’s take a look around the NFC North and at the matchups to come.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4) at Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
This game kicks off NFL’s week 8 as the Thursday night matchup. It’s a rare meeting between these two teams since the Bucs left the old NFC Central and became part of the NFC South. Tampa has won the last three with the most recent being last season.
Minnesota comes in a surprising 5-2. They beat the Arizona Cardinals behind a good defensive performance and with the continued contribution of RB Adrian Peterson. Tampa had seemingly pulled off a last-second TD by QB Josh Freeman for the win over the New Orleans Saints but the catch was later ruled invalid. Tampa dropped to 2-4.
Anytime a team is working on a short week, it adds an additional challenge for teams to prepare and for players to get past the bumps and bruises from the week prior. Both teams are fortunate that they are not dealing with many health issues at the moment.
The Vikings have been winning with defense this season. They had nine sacks and an interception returned for a touchdown this past Sunday by their top rookie S Harrison Smith. And having struggled offensively over the past few weeks, Minnesota was able to muster two scores on a vintage run by Peterson and a Christian Ponder pass to Percy Harvin. Harvin leads the NFL with 53 catches. The Vikings lethargic offense may get a jumpstart this week as they face a Tampa defense that ranks 25th overall. Read more...(1676 words + 3 images, estimated 6:42 mins reading time)
QB Christian Ponder has led the surprising Vikings to a 2-1 record
It’s hard to believe we’re already talking about week 4 and the NFL season will be a quarter done after this coming Monday Night game. It’s a busy week in the NFC North with some very good matchups to look forward to.
For the Green Bay Packers, week 4 is a very welcome sight. Need I even explain the who, what, when, where and why? They are eager to get that putrid taste out of their mouths after a very controversial loss on the final play in Monday Night’s game against the Seattle Seahawks. They return home and host the 0-3 New Orleans Saints led by QB Drew Brees.
The Minnesota Vikings ride high into Detroit to face the Lions after having knocked off the previously undefeated and heavily favored San Francisco 49ers in Minnesota this past weekend. It is the first divisional game for both the Vikes and Lions this season. The Lions come into this game licking the wounds of a brutal overtime loss at Tennessee after scoring twice in the final :18 seconds to force the OT.
The Bears cap off the week with a Monday Night matchup in Dallas against the Cowboys. Both teams are coming off wins and strong performances in week 3. The winner of this one makes a strong statement as to their standing as a contender in the NFC. Read more...(2398 words + 3 images, estimated 9:36 mins reading time)
Jay Cutler needs a bounce-back game after a rough outing in Green Bay in week 2 and amid questions about his leadership style
Week 3 in the NFC North offers some opportunities for teams to make a statement as they near the end of the season’s first quarter. The matchups are headlined by a Monday Night contest in Seattle where the Seahawks (1-1)will host the Green Bay Packers (1-1). The Packers look to make a statement with a tough road win and re-solidify themselves as top contenders for their division and in the NFC. The Seahawks are at home again after a solid win against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday.
The Chicago Bears (1-1) will play host to the St. Louis Rams (1-1) and new Head Coach Jeff Fisher. Both teams are dealing with injuries to and may be without their starting running backs. Each looks to get over .500 and build some momentum.
The Detroit Lions (1-1) head to Tennessee (0-2) to take on a struggling Titans team that is 0-2. The Titans are struggling on offense led by star running back Chris Johnson, who averages less than a yard per carry so far in 2012. They are searching for their first win of the season. The Lions are coming off a tough loss at San Francisco this past Sunday night. Lions All-Pro WR Calvin Johnson leads the team in catches but has yet to find the end zone. Read more...(1847 words + 3 images, estimated 7:23 mins reading time)
It’s a rare thing to witness a quarterback get sacked seven times and intercepted four times all in one game. In fact, the last time it happened was back in 2002 when Washington Redskins quarterback Patrick Ramsey faced the New Orleans Saints. But that’s exactly what happened last week when the Green Bay Packers defense seemed to rise up from the ashes and completely stifle the Chicago Bears offensive attack.
ESPN’s Stats & Info blog covered some of the problems quarterback Jay Cutler had when under pressure that evening. Here is the meat of the article:
Cutler struggled on throws traveling more than 10 yards downfield, going 2-for-11 for 35 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Last season Cutler ranked among the best quarterbacks in the NFL on passes of that length, as noted in the chart on the right.
How did the Packers defense attack Cutler?
They sent five or more pass rushers on 13 of Jay Cutler’s 35 dropbacks. Against such pressure, Cutler was 2-for-9 for 24 yards with two interceptions and was sacked four times. Cutler’s 22 percent completion percentage against more than four rushers is lower than the Packers allowed in any game last season.
After last season, it’s been a relief to Packer fans – even if only momentarily – to see the kind of pressure they were able to get on Cutler during Thursday night’s game. But what made this possible in large part was the ability of the defensive backs to blanket the receivers, leaving no options for the quarterback to get the ball out. Read more...(885 words + 1 image, estimated 3:32 mins reading time)