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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Have at It: Trend or mirage?

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com


Posted by ESPN.com’s Kevin Seifert


We’re two games in. If you’re into fractions, that’s one-eighth of the NFL season. It’s too early to panic. Too early to celebrate. Not enough time to identify trends.

Screechhhhhhhh.

Who said we can’t pick out some mid-September patterns in the NFC North? We’ve already had some unexpected developments, so for “Have at It” this week, I’d like to know which of these patterns are most likely to continue as a season-long trend. And, if you like, which one is a mirage? Here are my nominations, in no particular order:

1. Green Bay’s pass protection/offensive line performance
Synopsis: The Packers have given up an NFL-high 10 sacks and have shown vulnerability at both tackle positions. Green Bay is also averaging 82.5 rushing yards per game, ranking No. 23 in the league.

2. Minnesota’s rush defense
Synopsis: From 2006-2008, the Vikings gave up the fewest rushing yards (70.8 yards per game) in the NFL. But through two games in 2009, they’ve allowed 109 rushing yards per game, the 15th-best mark in the league.

3. Chicago’s run offense
Synopsis: Coach Lovie Smith likes to say the Bears “get off the bus running.” But against a pair of 3-4 defenses this month, the Bears are averaging 64.5 yards per game, the second-worst mark in the league. Tailback Matt Forte has 84 yards on 38 carries.

As always, post your thoughts in the comments section below. I’ll pull together a representative sample and offer my own take Friday morning. Have at It.