With preseason reaching its conclusion, we look at the week four match ups for the NFC North teams. We also look at the players trying to catch the eye, as they try and make the final 53-man roster.
Preseason so far:
- New Orleans Saints 25-34 Vikings
- Vikings 25-19 Seattle Seahawks
- Vikings 20-9 Arizona Cardinals
The Vikings will be thrilled with their preseason so far with three wins from three. They travel to Buffalo to face the Bills on Friday hoping to complete an unbeaten preseason. Head coach Mike Zimmer will want to carry the preseason momentum into week one against the Falcons. With most of the starters not expected to feature against the Bills, it will be the last chance for players on the fringes of the squad to win a roster spot.
Under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings are expected to run the ball more often. Dalvin Cook, with an 85-yard run in week three showed exactly what he can produce. So, it will be left to Alexander Mattison, Mike Boone and Ameer Abdullah to battle it out for the final running back spots. Another player to watch out for in week four for the Vikings is wide receiver Chad Beebe. The second year man went undrafted last year before signing with the Vikings. Injury cut short his rookie season and Beebe has impressed during training camp and preseason this year. The Bills are also unbeaten in preseason and may feature rookie running back Devin Singletary and first round draft pick, defensive tackle Ed Oliver.
Preseason so Far:
- Lions 3-31 New England Patriots
- Houston Texans 30-23 Lions
- Lions 20-24 Buffalo Bills
In contrast to the Vikings, the Lions have lost three from three in preseason. They face the Cleveland Browns on Friday hoping to continue to improve on the performances in week two and three. The Lions have seen players come in and out of camp this week. It was announced earlier this week that backup quarterback David Fales was released, and Luis Perez comes in. Perez spent part of preseason with the Philadelphia Eagles after joining the LA Rams last year.
The Lions have also added to their depth at running back by signing James Williams. The undrafted free agent was signed by the Chiefs before spending time with the Colts. Defensive captain Jarred Davis left the field last week with an ankle injury against the Bills. Head coach Matt Patricia will be looking to keep his main players healthy as they prepare for a week one showdown with the Cardinals in Arizona. The Browns, led by new head coach Freddie Kitchens, have a host of big names including QB Baker Mayfield, WR Odell Beckham Jr, RB Kareem Hunt and defensive end Myles Garrett.
Green Bay Packers
Preseason so far:
- Packers 28-26 Houston Texans
- Baltimore Ravens 26-13 Packers
- Oakland Raiders 22-21 Packers
Green Bay have only won one game in preseason, but that has been without starting QB Aaron Rodgers. Without Rodgers throughout preseason the focus has been on who will be the number two QB for the Packers. Tim Boyle impressed last week against the Raiders, completing 16/25 pass attempts for 191 yards and a touchdown. QB DeShone Kizer, led the Packers to a week one preseason win over the Texans. Kizer will be trying to impress QB coach Luke Getsy, who will be calling the plays on Friday against the Chiefs.
Rookie edge rusher Rashan Gary has had a busy preseason, and won’t feature for the Packers against the Chiefs. He suffered an injury last week against the Raiders but is expected to be available for week one. The Packers face the Chiefs in the final preseason game for the second year in a row. The Chiefs won the game 33-21 with QB Boyle throwing two interceptions and Kizer throwing one. The Packers face divisional rivals Chicago Bears in week one of the regular season.
Preseason so far:
- Bears 13-23 Carolina Panthers
- New York Giants 32-13 Bears
- Indianapolis Colts 17-27 Bears
The Bears started preseason slowly losing their first two games to the Panthers and Giants. They then recorded their first win last week against the Colts in Indianapolis. Many of Matt Nagy’s starters haven’t featured during preseason. Bears fans will be excited to see the likes of QB Mitchell Trubisky, RB Tarik Cohen, WR Allen Robinson and outside line-backer Khalil Mack, in week one against the Packers. Add into the mix rookie RB David Montgomery and the Bears look an exciting prospect for this season.
On the other side, on Saturday, NFL teams are required to cut their current 90-man squad down to 53. As such, Friday’s game against the Titans will be the last time to impress before the roster is decided. Running back Ryan Nall will be one player hoping to force his way onto the final 53-man roster. Despite a strong preseason this maybe difficult with the depth the Bears have at running back. The Bears won the NFC North last season with a 12-4 record before losing 15-16 in the NFC wildcard playoff match to the Philadelphia 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.