NFC North Tour: Heading into Week 4

Heading into week 4, things seem pretty standard throughout the division (aside from the Lions being in 2nd place and the Vikings being winless).  The Bears defense has been creating turnovers and points, the Lions passing game is on point, Green Bay is decimated by injuries, and the Vikings still have Ponder.  What should we expect moving forward?

Chicago: Chicago is yet to be tested on the road, the Steeler’s game was close early in the 4th but it still felt like Big Ben and Tomlin had no chance.  Week 4 will see the Bears travel to Detroit to take on Stafford and Megatron.  The Bears have had a lot of success lately against Detroit, Charles Tillman (provided he’s healthy) will once again be asked to check Megatron in an attempt to contain the Lion’s aerial attack.  Offensively, Trestman’s offense has been efficient, Cutler is doing a GREAT job of taking what the offense gives him and getting rid of the ball early (6 TD’s to only 3 picks) … and let’s not forget his Earl Campbell impression Sunday night.

Week 4 will be an interesting one if Detroit protects the ball and can win the special team’s battle.  Through three weeks of play, Chicago is +6 in the turnover game while Detroit is +3.  Briggs and the defense continue to make game changing plays, I think turnovers will once again be the difference for Chicago this week.

Prediction:  Chicago 31, Detroit 27 (Forte is going to have a big game)

Minnesota, where to start … Christian Ponder is completing less than 60% of his passes, he’s amassed 2 TD’s to 5 interceptions and teams are loading up the box to stop AP and daring Ponder to beat them.  Week 4 sees the Vikings hosting the Steelers across the pond, in London.  I think this will be the week we see Tomlin and Big Ben get their first win.  Minnesota has really struggled defending the pass and Roethlisberger is coming off a big week against the Bears.  If Pittsburgh protects the ball and limits Ponder’s short-field opportunities I like their chances this week.  Minnesota will need to keep Big Ben in the pocket and limit his scrambling opportunities if they hope to have a chance in this one.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 24, Minnesota 17 

Green Bay: Green Bay is off to a 1-2 start after what may be the sloppiest game of the year so far.  Week 4 for Green Bay brings a much needed bye; at one point against the Bengals Jeremy Ross was in the backfield taking over the 4th string RB duties.  Green Bay’s offense has been as of expected this year, outside of a new found running game the last two weeks.  Rodger’s continues to be efficient through the air (when his WR’s aren’t breaking off routes), the o-line is tough in the run game and struggling in pass-protection, Jones/Nelson/Cobb/Finley are doing what everyone expected of them and Franklin/Starks/Lacy will be looking for continued success in the run game.  Defensively, the front 7 have been great against the run but have been giving up chunks through the air.  In week 3, Sam Shields had a solid day defending AJ Green but key injuries in the defensive backfield have been tough on the secondary.  Look for Green Bay to get healthy leading into their week 5 matchup against Detroit.

Prediction: No one gets hurt in week 4.


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