The NFC North features just two games this week, with the Bears sitting this one out.
However, we may be bereft of the Bears but we have excitement and drama in bucket-loads.
Firstly, you’ve got the Philadelphia Eagles vs the Minnesota Vikings which was a defensive slugfest (that I was lucky enough to attend, may I add), as well as the divisional rivalry between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.
So who came out on top? Time to find out.
Vikings Escape Philly With the W
The Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles played their first game since that infamous NFC Championship matchup last year. There was plenty animosity in the air and with each Viking fan that passed, you could sense the hatred between the two fanbases. Yet, it was the Vikings faithful who were victorious in the end, 23-21.
Let’s analyse the Vikings performance first of all. Kirk Cousins was incredibly impressive in my opinion, completing 30 of 37 passes for 301 yards and 1 touchdown in the game. His production was very accurate, especially whilst he was under pressure from the Eagles’ front-line, who were continually on Cousins’ tail.
Though limited, the run game was effective on several occasions, led by Latavius Murray who rushed for 46 yards. In addition, Adam Thielen was reliable as ever, with 116 receiving yards and the recipient of a touchdown pass in the game.
As aforementioned, the defence were relentless. Danielle Hunter, Linval Joseph and Stephen Weatherly all produced a sack, whilst Weatherly’s sack forced the ball loose. Joseph was there to reap the rewards, running the ball all the way to the end-zone. The Special Teams unit were the only real negative for the Vikings , however, Dan Bailey’s poor performance did not effect the end result, with him missing 2 of 5 FG’s in the game.
The Eagles on the other hand simply looked downtrodden. The whole game it seemed like every effort they made was too little too late, and that proved to reign true. Carson Wentz had an average game under immense pressure from the opposing D-line, although he amassed 311 passing yards and 2 touchdowns in the game. Wendell Smallwood and Jay Ajayi had fairly low rushing tallies on the day, with just 27 and 29 yards, respectively.
The home side were also a victim of poor play-calling, like the decision to perform a pitch run on third and 1, which ended disastrously. Furthermore, there were far too many defensive relapses, with multiple blown coverages and missed tackles in the game.
The win for the Vikings elevates their record to 2-2-1 on the season, whilst the Eagles fall below .500, with a 2-3 record, which begs the question – have the chances of a repeat already disappeared?
The Curse of the Kicker Continues
That’s right, the curse of the kicker has not vanished. In-fact, this week was the worst of all and seemed to spread across almost all of the league in what can only be described as a pandemic. However, nobody had it worse than Mason Crosby, who missed 4 field goals and 1 extra point, totalling 13 points. The Packers only lost by 8.
#Packers handed the Lions 17 points off turnovers and threw away 13 points on missed kicks. 30 points worth of mistakes and missed opportunities.
— Zach Kruse (@zachkruse2) October 7, 2018
In spite of that, let’s start with what went right. For the Lions, a lot of things. Matt Stafford was fairly comfortable at the helm of the team producing 183 passing yards and 2 touchdowns. Also, Kerryon Johnson was impressive once again, rushing for 77 yards, whilst LeGarrette Blount was activated in order to convert pivotal short yardage plays, 2 of which he gained touchdowns on.
The defence were also largely successful in pressuring Aaron Rodgers, with two strip sack’s being recovered in the game.
Speaking of Rodgers, he did his best once again to single-handedly launch his team to victory. He crafted an incredible 442 yards tally and 3 touchdowns, connecting successfully multiple times with his no.1 target, Davanta Adams. The defence didn’t perform all that bad either, with 2 sacks coming from Blake Martinez and 1 from HaHa Clinton-Dix.
Unfortunately for the Packers, it all comes down to Mason and his missed kicks. Thus, they fall to 2-2-1 on the season, whilst the Lions improve to 2-3.
With week 5 in the books, the Chicago Bears were the biggest winners, even on their bye week. They remain atop the division with a record of, 3-1. The Vikings look set to make an epic comeback from a poor opening season, whilst the Packers appear to be in complete disbelief after today’s performance.
The Lions, despite a big win over a divisional rival, still look hellbent on finishing last place due to their tendencies to play well against tougher opposition one week and then lose to the weaker teams the next.
This guest piece has been written by Greg Forbes. Greg is a Pittsburgh Steelers who not only has love for his team but the NFL itself too. You can follow Greg over on Twitter at @G29750721.