Welcome to the new weekly look at what’s happening with Chicago’s immediate rivals, and a look around the league of the who’s who of everyone’s favorite brutal shitshow of a vice, the NFL.
Minnesota runs roughshod through Atlanta
The Vikings and Dalvin Cook ran wild out of the starting gate in 2019, posting 172 rushing yards en route to a comfortable 28-12 home victory. Cook was the star early, breaking off big chunks of yardage seemingly at will. He’d finish with 111 yards on 21 carries with two TDs. The Vikings defense was as good as Cook, blocking a punt on the first series of the game and frustrating the Falcons all day long. Four sacks, three turnovers and a shutout through three quarters gave this game a very efficiently boring feel, just what you want out of your team’s D.
This game was so well out of reach early that Kirk Cousins had a great, quiet day: 8/10, 97 yards, one passing TD, one rushing. He did fumble the ball twice and was lucky to keep both, but all in all a capable performance that won’t sound any alarms. The biggest takeaways are this defense is looking very strong, and if the offensive line and Cook/rushing attack can follow this blueprint most weeks Minnesota will be a very tough out all season. Now, if a team can stymie the run and make Cousins beat them….
Looking Ahead: 9/15 @ GB – Lambeau and the great equalizer Aaron Rodgers await. The GB Defense looked equally impressive against an odd Bears offense, so the matchup to watch is that front 7 vs Cook.
Detroit plays not to lose in the desert, somehow does worse than a loss
Matt Patricia was supposed to sort out Detroit as a defensively stout team, at the very least. They were gifted the first start of the Kyler Murray era in a road test to start the 2019 season, and for 3.5 quarters they looked pretty damn stout, ahead 24-6. Then, they somehow allowed the rookie Murray to DOUBLE his stat line in the 4th quarter alone. He went 15/19, 154 yds and 2 TDs, including the game tying toss to Larry Fitzgerald and two-pointer to Christian Kirk with 43 seconds on the clock to tie the game at 24.
Detroit was having their way for the most part on offense, especially in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. Matthew Stafford is locked in with rookie TE T.J. Hockenson, who opened his career with 6-131-1 stat line. Stafford put up 385 yards and 3 TDs with no INTs, but a middling rushing attack (32 carries/111 yards) made things difficult late once they tried to burn up the clock. The defensive implosion and then lackluster OT have to be giving this team some concerns given their opponent. Credit to Murray/Kliff Kingsbury for the comeback, but that doesn’t happen without some help. Detroit has plenty to work on after a pretty positive first few hours to their season.
Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs LAC – The Lions head home in Week 2 and face a true test in the Chargers. They boast some exciting pieces on both sides of the ball, even without holdout RB Melvin Gordon. The same mental mistakes that lost a sure win in Week 1 could be a full on disaster against this much tougher opponent.
Packers do enough to hold off inept Bears
Many a word has been typed about this Chicago debacle, so I’ll spare you more of the same. The Packers defense looks very legit, and Mike Pettine is the mastermind there. Matt Nagy and his offense were not ready for the game plan in front of them, and with opportunity after opportunity handed to the Bears, Pettine’s group was there to stop them.
Green Bay did not look very strong on offense outside of a single drive, which was boosted by a wild deep ball and jump ball TD catch. Chicago’s defensive unit looked as advertised and while that’s not an easy puzzle to solve, Matt LaFleur has his work cut out to make changes ahead of another difficult matchup this coming weekend at home.
Looking Ahead: 9/15 vs MIN – LaFleur coaches his first game at home, but the task doesn’t get any easier against a Minnesota team that looked finely tuned in an easy Week 1 win. Let’s see if Pettine can keep the Pack in it late two weeks straight.
Around the NFC…
The LA Rams and Carolina Panthers played what might be a a very early preview of NFC Division winners, with the Rams leading the whole way and holding on late…New Orleans, looking to hold Carolina off, played a thriller of their own on MNF, coming from behind a few times to beat Houston at home on a walk-off Will Lutz 58-yard FG. The Saints get the NFC defending Champion Rams in Week 2…Carson Wentz and the Eagles looked awful for a quarter or so in Washington before seemingly scoring off deep pass plays at will…Not to be outdone, Dak Prescott found himself and the Cowboys down early at home to the lowly Giants before storming to a commanding 35-17 win that saw him account for four TDs.