NFC North Standings:
1. Chicago Bears (1-1)
2. Green Bay Packers (1-1)
3. Minnesota Vikings (1-1)
4. Detroit Lions (1-1)
Minnesota Vikings vs New Orleans Saints (Vikings +9.5, over/under 51)
The Vikings were sent back down to reality last week losing at home by 23 points to the New England Patriots and now they venture into New Orleans, which can be a set-up like no other. The New Orleans Saints, who many picked as a possible Super Bowl participant, have yet to find a way to win as we enter the third week of the NFL season.
Even with the arduous task which lays ahead for the Vikings going into the Superdome – their biggest battle is with running back Adrian Peterson, who is in the news for “reckless or negligent injury” to his four year old son. Peterson was deactivated for last week’s contest but is currently on schedule to play this Sunday. Regardless of Peterson playing or not (and letting the discussion of whether he should play or not be held on a different forum) will ultimately not mean much in this game.
The Saints defense has not been as good as advertised but it won’t have to be if Matt Cassel has a repeat performance of last week’s 4 interception disaster. If Peterson plays, the Saints will stack the box and force Cassel to throw – if Peterson doesn’t play, it makes things a lot easier. One has to wonder if Cassel is now looking over his shoulder while playing with rookie back up quarterback Teddy Bridgewater licking his chomps at the possibility of playing. The Saints are without running back Mark Ingram, who has finally looked to be filling into his potential, but running backs Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas are more than capable of combining to cause headaches for a Vikings run defense which looked putrid last week.
Predicted Score: Saints 31, Vikings 14; Better’s Pick: Saints -9.5
Chicago Bears vs New York Jets (Bears +2.5, over/under 45.5)
The Chicago Bears were all-the-buzz around the Monday morning water cooler, after a thrilling win in San Francisco on Sunday night. Before that game, Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall were game time decisions (hamstring and ankle injuries, respectively) – and the Bears were not given much of a chance to win against the 49ers. With the odds stacked against them, the Bears rallied in the fourth quarter with three Jay Cutler touchdowns to pull off the upset. After losing to Buffalo in week one, this was as early a “must win” game as there was. This week the Jets play host to the Bears after losing to the Green Bay Packers in “true Jets fashion.”
The Jets looked good early against the Packers, but after poor decisions in the pocket by Geno Smith and the misuse of timeouts – the Packers pulled off the win. The Bears offensive line and defensive line showed a lot of fight against the 49ers and they will have to be just as good – if not better – when playing the Jets. The Jets can find themselves in trouble early if they cannot get pressure on Jay Cutler. The Bears offensive line is better than Green Bay’s and the receivers on the Bears will be at full health this week when taking on this weak Jets secondary.
Matt Forte will probably be just as ineffective on the ground this week as he was last week, but coach Marc Trestman will want to get the elusive back involved early, either with screens or drag routes to keep the Jets line backers honest. The Bears defense looked shaky against Buffalo and pretty good against the 49ers – the Jets offense resembles more of a 49ers mold with a quarterback who is actually less accurate.
Predicted Score: Bears 24 Jets 15; Better’s Pick: Bears +2.5
Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers (Lions -1.5; over/under 52)
With the Lions welcoming the Packers into Detroit, the two teams open up NFC North division play. The Packers have played two tough defenses in Seattle and the New York Jets – and now they square off against a defense that makes many scratch their heads. Detroit has the defensive line strength most teams dream to have, but their secondary has been the issue – even with that being said – as great as the names Suh, Fairley and Ansah sound together, there are times when none of them seem to have an affect on a drive. The Jim Caldwell Lions were manhandled on both sides of the ball last week against the Carolina Panthers and lucky for them, they won’t see that kind of physicality from Green Bay.
What the Lions will see, is a capable group of wide receivers – Green Bay’s Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson were a big reason Green Bay pulled off the home win last week (Nelson 202 yards, 1 TD; Cobb 39 yards, 2 TDs) but Green Bay also showed off their new acquisition. That acquisition was rookie wide receiver Davante Adams. The rookie wideout has a lot of upside and should prove to be a valuable asset to this offense as the season progresses.
The Lions cannot rely on Stafford to sling it all game to win this one. Green Bay has a viable secondary but their weakness is the middle of the defensive line. This would lead one to believe there will be more Joique Bell than Reggie Bush in Detroit’s backfield.
This game might come down to whoever has the ball last, as both head coaches are offensive minded and will definitely look to expose the other side’s defensive inadequacies.
Predicted Score: Green Bay 31, Detroit 28; Better’s Pick Over 52