How I See It: NFC North Stock Watch

September, 29, 2010
9/29/10
1:00
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FALLING

1. Discipline: There were a total of 43 penalties in the two NFC North intradivision matchups in Week 3. The Green Bay Packers set a team record with 18 in their 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Minnesota Vikings had 12 in their 24-10 victory over the Detroit Lions, who had eight. Only the Bears (five penalties) contained themselves. As a result, the Packers, Vikings and Lions all rank among the NFL’s 10 most-penalized teams. One word describes our second-ever NFC North four-fecta: Sloppy.

2. Deep thinking: Packers coach Mike McCarthy and Bears coach Lovie Smith each missed an opportunity to take an unconventional approach to the final two minutes of Monday night’s game. McCarthy elected not to allow the Bears to score a quick touchdown, thus giving his offense a better opportunity to score a game-tying touchdown. And Smith decided against kneeling on the ball to guard against that possibility. I still don’t think either coach should be criticized for his approach, but the alternatives would also have been defensible. Historically, teams who have been in the situation the Packers would have been in have still lost 90 percent of the time.

3. Patience in Detroit: The Lions didn't necessarily plan on going 16-0 this season, but it's clear that frustration is mounting after their 0-3 start. "It's just getting old," center Dominic Raiola said. "I mean, just the whole losing around here, it needs to change. Right away." I'm guessing that had something to do with a number of second-half scuffles between Lions and Vikings players, culminating with quarterback Shaun Hill charging after Vikings defensive end Jared Allen. Hill said afterwards that the Lions' wouldn't be anyone's "punks."

RISING

[+] EnlargeAdrian Peterson
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesMinnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson is off to the best three-game start of his career.
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings tailback: He’s off to the best three-game start in his career after a 160-yard performance Sunday against the Lions. A career-long 80-yard touchdown run demonstrated two interesting components of his game: a newfound patience and the return of his breakaway speed. Last season, Peterson scored on a bruising 64-yard touchdown run in Week 1 but wasn’t much of a long threat thereafter. Meanwhile, he followed his teammates' advice to lull the Lions defense by staying with the original call for as long as possible before cutting back to the right sideline.

2. Greg Olsen, Chicago Bears tight end: New coordinator Mike Martz’s offense has no room for a pass-catching tight end. That’s obvious. Just look at his history. And we all know Martz is too inflexible and not smart enough to figure out how to incorporate a tight end. I mean, look at Olsen. He caught a team-high five passes Monday night and now has 10 receptions and two touchdowns in three games. That means Olsen is well on his way to setting new records for tight end receptions and touchdowns in Martz offense. The current high marks are 38 and six, respectively. Olsen is on pace for 53 and 10. What a waste.

3. Chicago Bears offensive line: How many sacks did Packers linebacker Clay Matthews add to his season total Monday night? That’s right. None. With Frank Omiyale making his first career start at left tackle, and a right tackle rotation of Kevin Shaffer and rookie J’Marcus Webb, the Bears more than held their own against the Packers’ pass rush. Quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t sacked after the first series of the second quarter, and the Bears' offense managed 18 first downs and 276 yards despite getting off only 48 plays and holding the ball for 24 minutes, 11 seconds.

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