We take a look back at how the teams in the NFC North faired in week 2 and a look ahead to what week 3 of preseason has to offer.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers travelled to Baltimore in week 2 with Aaron Rodgers not risked due to a back problem. The Packers lost 13-26 to a strong looking Ravens side. There were problems on offense without Rodgers, with the team only converting 3 of 12 third down attempts on the night. However, head coach Matt LeFluer will be more concerned with the defense. In the preseason opener against the Texans, the defense struggled missing numerous tackles and the issues continued into week 2 with the Ravens able to rush for 171 yards. Rookie inside linebacker Curtis Bolton was one player that did stand out on defense, with a total of six tackles and a interception that set up a field goal for the Packers.
The Lions were much improved in the second week of preseason despite losing 30-23 to the Texans. Despite conceding 30 points, the Lions defense did improve by producing two turnovers in Houston. Rookie safety Will Harris collected a forced fumble and safety Andrew Adams was on hand to intercept a Joe Webb pass. There were a number of positives on offense for the Lions with quarterback David Fales completing 12 of 18 passes for 226 yards including a touchdown pass to running back Zach Zenner.
Week 3 host Buffalo Bills:
In week three of preseason the Lions host the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. The eyes will be on the Lions to see if they can combine an impressive display on offense last week against the Texans with a much improved defense. The Lions have strengthened their roster this week with the signing of free agent, and ex Baltimore Ravens wide receiver, Jordan Lasley. Furthermore, the Lions announced they have signed Defensive tackle Damon Harrison Sr to a one year contract extension. The DT made 10 appearances for the Lions last year making 50 tackles and 3.5 sacks. The Lions will know they have to stop the Bills impressive running game that includes ex England rugby winger Christian Wade, and exciting rookie running back Devin Singletary.
The Vikings were the only NFC North team to win in week 2 of preseason defeating the Seattle Seahawks 25-19 at the U.S. Bank Stadium. Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins benefited from good game time to complete 6 of his 8 attempted passes for 68 yards. Quarterbacks, Kyle Sloter and Sean Mannion both throw a touchdown each and completed 11 passes on the night for the Vikings. Mannion connected with rookie tight end Irv Smith Jr who, recorded his first touchdown of preseason.
Week 3 host Arizona Cardinals:
The Vikings go into the game against the Cardinals with the only unbeaten record in the NFC North. They face a Cardinals team that are 1-1 in preseason with a win against the Chargers in week one and a defeat last week against the Raiders. The Vikings will face the number one overall pick in this years draft, quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray has been solid throughout preseason but is yet to throw for a touchdown. The Vikings have been highly effective on offense during preseason leading the NFL with an average of 433 yards per game. The Vikings defense has also produced three sacks and two interceptions over the first two weeks of preseason.
In week two of preseason the Bears lost 32-13 to the Giants in New York. In week three the Bears face the Colts in Indianapolis. Although, the Bears have lost their opening two preseason games so far they are the top ranked NFC North team in the mid-preseason power rankings. The Bears are ranked 7th with the Vikings 13th, the Packers 15th and the Lions 26th. The Bears have rested a majority of their starters throughout preseason and will look to continue that trend this week.
This idea is not new in Chicago with the Bears adopting the same plan last preseason and they went on to finish with a 12-4 record which included winning nine of their last ten regular season games. The Bears know they will not face the Colts starting Quarterback Andrew Luck as he continues his rehab on a ankle injury that has kept him out of practice throughout preseason. The Bears will however face Luck’s backup Jacoby Brissett, who threw for 100 yards and a touchdown in their defeat to the Browns last week.
This NFC North guest article was written by Jamie Farrin. He’s a New Orleans Saints fan and you can find him on twitter at @jamiefarrin.
Feature Image Credit: USA TODAY