Week 10 brings two important games and one bye to the frantic NFC North. The Vikings take on the Lions while the Bears welcome the AFC’s best Texans to Soldier Field in a week that will play a huge role in defining the division. The Packers sit this week out for their bye as they will get to watch from a distance as the division takes new shape over the weekend.
The 4-4 Lions travel Minnesota to take on the 5-4 Vikings in this week’s divisional showdown. The Lions will be bringing their 2nd ranked offense (greatly assisted by the league’s 1st ranked pass offense) to Minneapolis against the Vikings’ 11th ranked defense. According to my calculations, this gives the Lions the advantage, but you can’t doubt the Vikings propensity to give Matt Stafford problems and disrupt the Lions’ offense.
One of the storylines of this game will be to see if Vikings’ QB Christian Ponder can come back strong from his 63-yard, one interception performance against Seattle. The Lions have the ability to get a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks but do not show consistency in this area. Look for Detroit to do their best to hound Ponder and get him to put out a comparable performance. On the other side of the ball, Adrian Peterson has taken up a tradition of sorts where he gashes the Lions defense in both opportunities he gets every year.
Going into last week the Seattle Seahawks were ranked fifth against the run, giving up 84.9 YPG. By the end of the game, the Seahawks were averaging 102.4 YPG against the run and fell to 11th in the league. Adrian Peterson will do that. The Seahawks run defense is far superior to the Lions’, so suffice it to say that Lions Nation should be slightly worried about the Peterson issue heading into this game.
The Texans travel to Chicago for a Sunday night showdown, and this is without a doubt the game of the week in the NFL. This contest pits the AFC’s best against the NFC’s second-in-command, with some people arguing that the Bears have the most well-rounded team in the NFL. Not sure if those people have seen the Bears offensive line. While Chicago’s defense has been one of the NFL’s biggest storylines this year, the Texans have quietly put together a very stellar season on that side of the ball, ranking 3rd in overall defense thus far. Chicago has yet to face an elite defense, and I have a sneaking suspicion that Jay Cutler is going to get J.J. Swatted behind his paper-mâche offensive line.
The Bears have the defense and the offensive weapons to beat anyone in the league, but to beat teams like Houston they need to design a game plan that allows Cutler to, you know, survive. The Bears defense will have its hands full with the league’s 4th ranked offense, but with how they have played thus far they can certainly be expected to hold Houston to a relatively low score.