In case you are completely oblivious to the football world, let me tell you what you’ve missed:
The NFC North dominated during Week 1. Well, everyone except the Packers, who faced one of the top teams in the league. Lions, Vikings, and Bears fans wasted no time informing me that my team was at the bottom of the division.
It was only Week 1; no big deal. (Actually, their insults of Aaron Rodgers “averageness” cut deep into my soul.)
After an excellent week of upsets and interceptions (I think Eli Manning was jealous of Jay Cutler’s numbers), only the Packers came out victorious in Week 2 match ups.
So now all the teams of the NFC North sit with a record of 1-1. All four of the teams had moments that shined and moments that make us want to pound another beer. Let’s take a look at what we have discovered in the first two weeks.
In Week 1, the Lions barely beat the St. Louis Rams, who have been the laughingstock of the NFL for the past few years now. Then on Sunday the 49ers had a solid victory over Detroit.
Despite the slow start to 2012, the Lions are still a strong team in this division.
Is Calvin Johnson Detroit’s only strength?
Detroit’s biggest asset for success is their aggression. Ok, that could be viewed as a weakness knowing certain individuals on this team can be overly aggressive, but let’s assume they have toned it down a bit for this season.
The passing game between quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson is a dangerous combo for opposing defenses. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is known for his fierce play and almost always makes himself known.
Stafford and the offense struggled to develop a running game against the Niners. However, Stafford went from throwing 89 yards and zero touchdowns in the first three quarters to ending the game with 230 yards and one touchdown pass.
Or is the Madden Curse on Johnson the Lions’ biggest weakness?
Detroit has some work to do if they are going to give the top teams in the NFL a run for their money and distance themselves from the least talented teams. Their weakness is obviously Calvin Johnson. Madden cover has injury/self-destruction written all over it.
I am kidding. I don’t believe in curses.
Detroit needs more options in their offense. This might sound silly since they have one of the top wide receivers in the league, but I can’t be the only one with this idea if the Lions are working out running backs Steve Slaton and Ryan Grant, according to Anwar Richardson from MLive.com.
After watching a strong defense like the 49ers cover Detroit’s go-to guy, it has became clear that they needed more versatility for Stafford to work with.
Here’s a team that has very little expectations from the fans and the league. The Vikings edged out the Jacksonville Jaguars in week one, but they couldn’t squeeze by Andrew Luck and his crew on Sunday.
Beating the Jaguars is hardly something to brag about and losing to a one-man team is embarrassing.
So what strengths DO the Vikings have?
For starters, they still have Adrian Peterson.
After quite the ACL injury last year, Peterson is starting the season off strong with 144 yards in 33 attempts plus two touchdowns. And that’s the entire Vikings offense, right?
WAIT! Not so fast!
Young quarterback Christian Ponder is beginning to turn his potential into production as an NFL quarterback with 515 yards, a 75.8 completion percentage, and two touchdowns. Imagine if the Vikings had more than just Peterson and Percy Harvin for Ponder to work with!
Another positive? Umm…the Vikings are in the process of getting a new stadium.
Can we even begin to name all of the concerns the Vikings have?
According to Vikings reporter Brian Hall, the unproven secondary is one of their top weaknesses. Watching Luck and the Colts bust through the zone coverage makes me think he’s on to something. The lack of a strong secondary will kill this team not only within the division but anytime they face key offensive players, even if it is just a quarterback who was the first round draft pick.
There is still that nagging question of whether or not Adrian Peterson has fully recovered from last year’s injury. If he hasn’t, the Vikings offense will tank. Young Ponder can only do so much when he has no one but Harvin to throw to.
The Bears started off their season with a glorious victory over the Colts. They looked like they were ready to fight for the top of the division after week 1. That glory only lasted a few days before a completely different team faced the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
Did Chicago really vamp up their offense?
Yes, yes they did. Or so it seemed when they took on the Colts.
With Matt Forte back from last season’s injury, the Bears also added running back Michael Bush plus wide receiver Brandon Marshall as a new target for quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Bears’ offense ran over the Colts defense winning 41-21. Cutler threw for 333 yards and two touchdowns. Bush had 42 rushing yards and two touchdowns while Marshall had nine receptions for 119 yards and one touchdown against Indy.
Chicago’s defense is still looking strong. Defensive tackle Henry Melton has had three sacks this season, two against the Colts and one against Green Bay. Julius Peppers, defensive end, also busted through the Packers offensive line to rack up two sacks. Cornerback Tim Jennings has made three interceptions in the first two games including a pass by Aaron Rodgers.
Where does Chicago falter?
Like I said before, they looked like two different teams between the two weeks. Inconsistency is the Bears’ biggest weakness.
The offense looked horrendous against the Packers. Not only did Cutler throw four interceptions, but he was also sacked seven times. Cutler held on to the ball too long; receivers couldn’t get open; and the offensive line couldn’t hold back that Packers defense long enough.
This flip-flopping between being a powerful offense to an absolute mess is exhausting. Cutler and his crew need to pull it together and keep their composure in order to compete with top teams. Luckily, they have a few easy weeks to regroup and prepare for more difficult games.
The defense didn’t look nearly as bad in week two as the offense. In fact, they kept it together quite well, only allowing the Packers to put up 23 points and never letting them get in sync. The first quarter they put up a fight keeping the score 0-0. The defense was able to attack Green Bay’s O-line and get a few sacks.
Green Bay Packers
Unlike the rest of the NFC North, the Packers started off the season with a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. We saw a lot of the same struggles we saw last year against the New York Giants in the playoffs.
All I can say is “Thank God for beer!”
And like the Bears, there was a HUGE difference between the first two games for the Packers.
Is the Packers offense still their dominant weapon?
The first two games didn’t give us a taste of what the offense can be. They were good but not amazing.
Young Randall Cobb showed the most potential against the 49ers with nine receptions for 77 yards. Jermichael Finely was the biggest disappointment to come out of that game with dropped pass after dropped pass that could have made a difference in the game or at least changed the momentum.
I still believe this is an offense that opposing teams should and will fear. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has multiple target options, from young talent like Cobb to veteran receiver Donald Driver. The Packers picked up running back Cedric Benson to add some strength to their running game, which has been weak the past few seasons.
Another advantage the Packers have is they lost a game. Now, before all the Packers fans begin yelling at me and call for my head on a silver platter, let me explain.
There is no pressure for a perfect season, and any thoughts of being too elite to be touched have been wiped from the fans’, players’, coaches’, etc. minds. The talk about a potential Super Bowl run for the Green and Gold has died down now that they are equal to everyone in their division.
There is still talk about NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers and whether or not he can continue to stay elite, but that’s something I believe Rodgers can and will prove throughout this season.
Have the Packers addressed their defensive woes from the 2011 season?
Oh man. I wish I knew the answer to this.
After week 1′s game, I definitely would have said the defense was still a concern for the Packers. With four interceptions and 7 sacks by our defense, I have no idea what to think after week 2. If they play like they did against the Bears, they have few worries ahead of them. But I am not sold on that theory.
I am not sure our secondary is up to par, especially if we look back at the Niners game. The 49ers’ balanced offensive game had the Packers defense guessing between pass and rush, which is not a method of football play I prefer to use.
The running game could continue to hurt the Packers. While they have an abundant amount of receivers to choose from, the Packers are relying on Benson and an injured James Starks (who has yet to play during the regular season) to own the rushing yards. I have watched too many games where Rodgers is the leading rusher.
Those are my thoughts on the NFC North after two games this season. The Vikings have the most concerns, but the others are not perfect either and need to address their weaknesses in order to be a contender in the playoffs.
Only time will tell which team can overcome their weaknesses and ultimately prevail in the competitive NFC North.