23

September

Around the NFC North: Week 3 Games

Jay Cutler

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.

The Minnesota Vikings (1-1) are at home and are visited by the San Francisco 49ers (2-0).  The 49ers look to continue their roll over the NFC North, having already beaten the Packers in week 1 and the Lions last week.  Their smash-mouth defense and efficient offense make them a very tough matchup for any opposing team.  The Vikings return home and look to increase the work load of their star running back Adrian Peterson.  A win over the staunch 49ers would create quite a stir in the NFC North and catapult the Vikings into the conversation as division contenders.

24

November

Packers vs. Lions: 5 Instant Observations from Green Bay’s 27-15 Win over Detroit

Aaron Rodgers rebounded from a slow start, James Jones caught his fifth touchdown pass and the defense played arguably its finest game of 2011 season as the Green Bay Packers took down the Detroit Lions, 27-15, on Thursday at Ford Field.

Here are five observations from the game:

1. Defense states their case

On a day in which the Packers lost Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk and Erik Walden at various times, the defense may have played their best game of the 2011 season. Despite giving up over 400 total yards again, the Packers intercepted Matthew Stafford three times and held a shutout into the fourth quarter against an explosive offense on the road. Calvin Johnson, one of the NFL’s best receivers, was held to just four catches for 49 yards and a meaningless garbage time touchdown. Backup inside linebackers D.J. Smith and Robert Francois played surprisingly well in emergency duty. Considering everything involved on Thursday, you could make a strong case this was the Packers most impressive defensive performance of 2011.

2. Suh’s stomp changes game

Terry McAulay’s officiating crew were bad for both sides on Thursday, but they absolutely got it right when they ejected Ndamukong Suh in the third quarter. Not only did he stomp Evan Dietrich-Smith’s arm, but Suh also banged Dietrich-Smith’s head off the ground multiple times before the stomp. There’s simply no place for that kind of behavior in football, and Suh deserves to sit a couple of games, especially considering his history. Luckily for the Packers, Suh’s dirty play gave them a new set of downs at the Lions’ 1-yard-line, and John Kuhn promptly turned the break into a 14-0 lead 9:06 left in the third quarter. It wasn’t the decicing factor in the game, but Suh’s ejection and penalty turned the tides in what was a close contest at that juncture.

3. Rodgers rebounds

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers started slow on Thursday, but the Lions were unable to hold him down for a full four quarters. After being held under 100 yards passing and failing to convert a third down in the first half, the NFL’s best signal caller caught fire in the second half and finished with another stat line that Packers’ fans have come to expect. By the time the game was over, Rodgers had completed 22 of 32 passes for 307 yards and two scores, including a 65-yard strike to James Jones that put the Packers up 21 points. His 120.2 passer rating extended his NFL record streak for games over 110.0 passer rating to 11 straight. Rodgers was especially deadly on back shoulder throws in the second half. Anytime the Packers needed a big play, he found a receiver being covered by a corner with his back to the play. At that point, it’s stealing for Rodgers and this group of receivers.