NFC North
NFL

NFC North: Week 3 keys to the games

It was a successful week two in the NFC North with three out of the four teams recording victories. The Lions and Packers are the two undefeated teams after week two, with the Vikings and Bears both 1-1. Here is the NFC North week three preview.

Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles

With a tie in week one against the Cardinals and a victory at home last week against the Chargers, HC Matt Patricia will be happy with the start the Lions have made. The Lions face a tough trip to Philadelphia to face the Eagles. The 2018 Super Bowl champions have started the season 1-1. They started the season with a victory over the Redskins before a narrow defeat last week against the Falcons.

Kenny Golladay

Golladay has been the Lions main weapon on offense to start the season and will be crucial to a Detroit victory. The Eagles secondary struggled last week against the Falcons with wide receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley scoring three touchdowns between them. Golladay caught eight receptions for 117 yards, including a touchdown in week two against the Chargers. Matthew Stafford utilized Golladay well in the first two weeks, and looks set to carry that trend into week three.

Philadelphia Eagles

The two key players for the Eagles are QB Carson Wentz and tight end Zach Ertz. Wentz threw for over 300 yards in week one, including 3 touchdowns in the Eagles victory over the Redskins. Ertz, a 2013 second-round draft pick out of Stanford, has established himself as one of the best TE’s in the league. The TE has nearly 5000 career receiving yards and has appeared in two pro bowls. The linkup between the two has been key to the Eagles success over the past two seasons.

Oakland Raiders @ Vikings

The Vikings host the 1-1 Oakland Raiders in week three at the U.S. Bank Stadium. The Raiders beat the Broncos in week one, before losing to the Chiefs last week. The Vikings found it difficult against the Packers in the all NFC North week two clash, with QB Kirk Cousins throwing two interceptions and finishing with a passer rating of 52.9.

Dalvin Cook

The Vikings have one of the best running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook. Cook ran for 111 yards in week one with two touchdowns, and an astonishing 154 yards in week two against the Packers. The RB carried 41 times in the first two weeks and will be expected to continue the workload against the Raiders. The Vikings have relied on their running game so far, but also have two of the most exciting receivers in the league in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs.

Oakland Raiders

After the controversial departure of star wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Raiders have also turned to their running game. Rookie RB, Josh Jacobs carried 23 times in week one and 12 times for 99 yards last week against the Chiefs. The 24th overall pick in this year’s draft scored two touchdowns in his first NFL game against the Broncos.

Quarterback, Derek Carr, has struggled without a star receiver, throwing two interceptions in week two. Carr also threw under 200 yards against the Chiefs in 38 passing attempts.

Denver Broncos @ Packers

The two teams have had contrasting starts to the season with the Packers 2-0 and the Broncos 0-2. The Broncos have struggled in the opening two weeks, coming off the back of defeats to the Raiders and Bears. The Packers come into the game confident after an impressive victory over the Vikings last time out.

Packers offense

The player to watch on the Packers offense will be running back Aaron Jones. Last week against the Vikings, Jones recorded his fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career. The RB ran for 116 yards including a touchdown. Although the running game has been important on the Packers offense the passing game has also played its part. Wide receiver, Devante Adams caught 7 passes for 106 yards in week two averaging 15 yards per reception. QB Aaron Rodgers also has second year WR Marquez Valdes- Scantling to target. The WR out of the University of South Florida caught for 52 yards in 4 receptions in the victory over the Bears in week one.

Denver Broncos

Despite their defeat to the Bears, QB Joe Flacco posted impressive numbers throwing for 292 yards and a touchdown. However, Flacco seems to take time growing into the game, with most of the Broncos points scored in the second half. Flacco’s two touchdowns this season have both come in the fourth quarter. If the Packers can start quickly and finish well, they should be too much for the Broncos at Lambeau Field.

The Packers defense struggled to stop the threat of Vikings RB Dalvin Cook last week. They will have to be aware of the Broncos run game with duo, Royce Freeman and Philip Lindsay forming a formidable partnership.

Bears @ Washington Redskins

The Bears have had a slow start to the season with defeat on the opening night against their NFC North rivals, the Packers, before a narrow victory last week against the Broncos. The victory against the Broncos, came from the last kick of the game. Kicker Eddy Pineiro kicking a 53-yard field goal to win the game 16-14. Pineiro was also named special teams’ player of the week slotting over all his three kick attempts.

Bears’ Defense

It’s no secret that the Bears defense has been their strength over the last two seasons. The defense only allowed 10 points in week one and 14 points in week two. They impressed against both the passing and rushing game against the Broncos last week. With the defense restricting the Broncos running game to 3.8 rushing yards per carry. They also sacked Packers QB, Aaron Rodgers five times in week one.

The Bears offense on the other hand, has struggled at the start of the season. They only scored three points in week one and 16 points in week two. QB, Mitchell Trubisky only threw for 120 yards last week from 27 attempts with a passer rating of 70.0. Head coach Matt Nagy turned to the run game and specifically, Rookie RB David Montgomery. Montgomery ran for 62 yards in 18 attempts, including the Bears only touchdown of the game in the third quarter.

Washington Redskins

The Redskins are 0-2 after two weeks with defeats to the Eagles and Cowboys. The main threats on offense come in the form of RB Adrian Peterson and rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin. WR, McLaurin scored a touchdown and averaged 12.4 yards per reception in their defeat to the Cowboys. The WR out of Ohio State also caught 5 catches for 125 yards in week one against the Eagles.

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 Sports

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