Week Two of preseason football is almost completely in the books, and we definitely have a clearer picture of the NFC North now than we did before the year began. The Chicago Bears look really, really strong. The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions look solid. And, perhaps most surprisingly, the Minnesota Vikings look like they might be better than everyone anticipated they would be heading into this year.
Here is a quick rundown of news and notes from the week that was:
Packers – Much as was the case last week, there are positives and negatives that can be taken away from the Browns game. The good news is that Aaron Rodgers is still Aaron Rodgers (6 of 11, 59 yards, TD), and that the offensive line is capable of sufficiently protecting him. The bad news is that he was the team’s leading rusher, picking up 24 yards on two runs. Alex Green and Marc Tyler accomplished a whole lot of nothing in their attempts, with the latter specifically only accumulating six yards on eight tries.
This is a passing league and Tom Brady has managed to get by sans good running backs for years, but Rodgers will still needs some support.
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Lions – Detroit looked good this week. Really good. Matthew Stafford absolutely dominated the Ravens secondary (12 of 17, 184 yards, 2 TDs) for the vast majority of his time on the field, and Calvin Johnson continued to prove that there isn’t a defense in the world that can stop him (5 receptions, 11 yards, TD). The rushing game appeared to be relatively solid for the most part. The defense looked okay, too.
For all of their on the field concerns this summer, Detroit really seemed to have it altogether on the field.
Bears – Because Jay Cutler and the rest of Chicago’s key offensive pieces didn’t play last week, this week’s outing versus the Redskins was our first chance to see this team at relatively full strength. How do the Bears look at full strength? Very, very solid. Jay Cutler (7 of 13, 122 yards) and Brandon Marshall (2 receptions, 61 yards) still have the chemistry that they developed during their Denver days. Michael Bush perfectly capitalized on all his opportunities. Oh, and Robbie Gould’s foot still works, if anyone was wondering.
Barring injuries, this squad could definitely end up atop the division.
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Vikings – Minnesota fans may not have been especially optimistic heading into this season, but they’re definitely going to be optimistic from here on out. Christian Ponder (10-13, 136 yards, TD) looked strong against what was supposed to be a legitimate Bills defense, and his ability to move around in the face of pressure is going to be huge this season. Toby Gerhart (6 carries, 30 yards) was impressive, too, and he provided a nice little glimpse of what it’ll look like when he and Adrian Peterson get a chance to team up. The defense was both strong and weak in spurts, but it’s a little early to really make a judgment on how they’ll do this season right now.
This squad won't make the playoffs, obviously, but it might end up being a lot better anyone was expecting it to be.