Week 4 kicked off with the Packers losing to the Eagles on Friday. Sunday sees an NFC North battle with the Vikings traveling to face the Chicago Bears. Here is a preview of week 4 in the NFC North.
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears
The Vikings travel to Soldier Field to face divisional rivals Chicago. The two teams are 2-1 for the season, both having suffered defeats to the Packers. It will be the 117th time the two sides have met. The Bears beat the Vikings twice last season. The first meeting came in week 11, with the Bears winning 25-20 at Soldier field. The second came in the final week of the regular season with a 24-10 win in Minnesota.
Vikings run game
The Vikings know their strength, and will look to stick to it. Dalvin Cook is the league’s leading rusher having ran for 375 yards in the first three weeks. That is 57 yards further than anyone else, with Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey in second. Cook has been getting all the praise and deservingly so, but he has been helped by the Vikings rookie RB Alexander Mattison. The rookie out of Boise State had 12 carries for 58 yards including his first touchdown in week three against the Raiders. The two RB’s have combined to make the Vikings second in the league in rushing yards, behind the Ravens. However, they know they will face a difficult task up against the Bears defense which ranks in the top five for rushing defense.
The Bears defense know they can cope up against a rush offense, with the defense only allowing 3.1 yards per carry for the season. The Bears have also had 11 sacks in the first three weeks of the season ranking them 5th in the league.
However, as they found out in week one against the Packers, a strong defense won’t win you games if you can’t score points on offense. Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears offense scored just three points in week one and 16 points in week two. There were positive signs last week when the Bears put 31 points on the Redskins, with Trubisky throwing for three touchdowns in the second quarter. The Bears quarterback will have to be aware of a strong Vikings defense which contains line-backer Anthony Harris who is second in the league in interceptions.
Kansas City Chiefs @ Detroit Lions
At the start of the season most people would have looked at the schedule and not given the Lions much hope against Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. However, with the Lions now one of eight unbeaten teams in the league this makes this game one to watch in week four.
Lions head coach Matt Patricia will know that Mahomes and the Chiefs offense will come out firing on Sunday. The Lions will be full of confidence after their win in Philadelphia that maintained their unbeaten start to the season. To continue this success the Lions will target a Chiefs defense that has looked vulnerable at times this season. The Chiefs defense are ranked 24th in the league for total yards allowed. Matthew Stafford threw for 201 yards last week against the Eagles and combined well with wide receiver Marvin Jones. Jones caught six passes for 101 yards including a touchdown.
The Lions will look to use Kerryon Johnson against the Chiefs who struggled to stop the run so far this season. Last week against the Ravens, running back Mark Ingram ran for over 100 yards including three touchdowns. In week two, despite the Raiders only scoring ten points Josh Jacobs was able to rush for 99 yards. This is an area that head coach Matt Patricia could look to target.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have been one of the most explosive offenses over the first three weeks of the season. This is shown in the stats, with Mahomes leading the league with a staggering 1195 passing yards. They also have two receivers in the top five for receiving yards. Wide receiver, Sammy Watkins, sits second with 311 yards, and tight end Travis Kelce is 5th with 284 yards. Their success in the passing game is highlighted by their RB Lesean McCoy only rushing for a total of 158 yards.
It’s easier said than done but the Lions need to keep Mahomes of the pitch for as long as possible to win this game. The Chiefs come into the game as favourites,, but if the Lions utilize the run game well and put pressure on Mahomes they could cause a big upset on Sunday.
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.