NFC North Teams With Big Opportunities This Week

Big Week Ahead For the NFC North

9/12/12 in NFL   |   Andrew_Ericksen   |   230 respect

Dec. 25, 2011; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Donald Driver (80) fights for extra yardage as he is taken down by Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher (54) during the first half at Lambeau Field.  The Packers defeated the Bears 35-21. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-US PRESSWIREYes, it’s only week two, but by Sunday night, we’re going to know a lot more about the quality of teams we have in the NFC North.  With three teams scheduled in primetime slots and the fourth with a golden opportunity to start the season 2-0, keep your eyes pealed on what might be the NFC’s strongest division this weekend.
Of course don’t forget that with the NFL’s new schedule, your weekend is beginning Thursday nights now.  And this week’s first game couldn’t be any more intriguing.  Coming off a disappointing home opener, the Green Bay Packers will play host to the Chicago Bears who dismantled the Colts last week behind a strong and balanced offensive attack.  The Packers really couldn’t have asked for a pair of more difficult defensive teams to begin the season.  San Francisco did what it needed to last week in order to hold down Aaron Rodgers and company, and now the Packers will face a defense that forced 5 turnovers and recorded 3 sacks last Sunday – albeit against the Colts, but still!  A Green Bay loss drops them to 0-2, lifting the Bears to an early season 2 game lead over their division rivals - pretty big stakes for a week two meeting.
Sep 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings fullback Jerome Felton (42) and tackle Matt Kalil (75) celebrate with running back Adrian Peterson (28) after he scores a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second quarter at the Metrodome. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-US PRESSWIREThen during the first set of games Sunday, the Vikings will get their own shot at the Colts.  Nobody really expected much out of Minnesota this season, but with the return of one of the league’s most dominant offensive players, there’s an interesting buzz around the Vikings right now, and if they come away victorious while the Bears and Lions lose, Minnesota is off to an early season lead in the North, and who knows how far that momentum could carry?
Sunday’s closer then wraps up the weekend for the division, with the Lions traveling to San Francisco in a rematch of last years handshake-gate.  I was completely edge-of-my-seat ecstatic when I saw this game scheduled as an early-season primetime matchup.  I’ve been waiting to see these teams go back at it ever since the last second 49ers victory at Ford Field last year and expect to see both teams in full form.  Week one ultimately went well for both teams, although they went about their victories in completely different fashions.  While the 49ers did everything they needed to do in order to come away on top, the Lions sort of stumbled on their way to the finish line.  If Matt Stafford has similar turnover problems in this week’s matchup, don’t expect another win for the Lions.  On the other side of the coin, if the Lions can prove they can take down one of the NFC’s top teams on the road, then they’ll move right into the discussion of the NFC’s elite themselves with a nice 2-0 start. 
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9/13/12   |   Wards_Page   |   248 respect

God bless you for even mentioning my Vikings in this piece. A 2-0 start would be a nice change and keep the dream alive for at least a few more weeks. Winning, no matter who it's against, keeps players interested and that can only lead to good things.