NFC North: 2013 Week 5 Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Green Bay Packers

October, 6, 2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Green Bay Packers' 22-9 victory over the Detroit Lions.

What it means: The Packers caught a major break not having to face Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, who was inactive because of a knee injury. It would have been interesting to see what kind of game it would have been if Johnson had played. But without him, the Lions were punchless on offense -- not that the Packers were overly impressive in their inability to finish drives with touchdowns. But Green Bay made enough big plays -- a 61-yard run by Randall Cobb and an 83-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to James Jones -- to secure a much-needed victory coming out of their bye week. In improving to 2-2, they got themselves right back into the thick of the NFC North, just one-half game behind the Lions and Chicago Bears, both 3-2.

Stock watch: Mason Crosby’s struggles from last season appear to be well behind him. The Packers' kicker, who made an NFL-low 63.6 percent of his field goals in 2012, converted five field goals against the Lions, including a season-long 52-yarder, and improved to 9-for-9 on the season. Dating back to last season and including this preseason, he has 21 straight field goals.

23 and counting: The story of the Packers’ long home winning streak over the Lions will live for another year. It was their 23rd straight victory (including playoffs) over the Lions in the state of Wisconsin, including games at Lambeau Field and Milwaukee County Stadium. The 22 straight regular-season home wins over the Lions is the longest home winning streak over one team in NFL history.

What’s next: The Packers play the second of their four games against the AFC North next Sunday, when they are on the road to face the defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens at 1 p.m. ET. The Packers are 0-1 against the AFC North this season, having lost at the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3.

Rapid Reaction: Detroit Lions

October, 6, 2013

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- A few thoughts on the Detroit Lions' 22-9 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

What it means: Another year, another loss at Green Bay for Detroit, although this one had the makings of another Lions loss before the game started. Once Detroit learned it would be without Calvin Johnson, its chances of winning on the road diminished greatly.

Once the Lions started playing, that looked like even more of a possibility. Detroit’s offense couldn’t find any rhythm without Johnson and for the first time this season, an opposing defense could focus solely on Reggie Bush and it showed. Bush was largely ineffective Sunday, rushing for 44 yards and catching a team-high four passes for 25 yards. Still, without Johnson that isn’t going to be good enough. With the loss dropping the Lions to 3-2, they remain in first place in the NFC North by a tiebreaker over Chicago and a half-game over Green Bay.

Stock watch: Rising -- TE Brandon Pettigrew. He had a drop, but Pettigrew also made some big catches for Detroit on Sunday, including one where he caught the ball, trucked over one Green Bay defender and then hurdled another. Falling -- CB Chris Houston. Rough outing for Houston, who was beat deep on James Jones’ 83-yard touchdown and didn’t look completely healthy with his injured hamstring. Lions' wide receivers. They couldn’t get much separation as a group and couldn’t make any plays at all without Johnson and Nate Burleson. The Lions’ receivers caught a combined nine passes for 93 yards and a touchdown, or in other words, an average Johnson game on his own. Lions' offensive line. Detroit had allowed three sacks in its first four games. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked five times Sunday. Left tackle Riley Reiff, in particular, struggled with the Green Bay rush.

Levy having a season: Detroit linebacker DeAndre Levy had another strong game for the Lions. The linebacker seemingly was everywhere for Detroit. He led Detroit with 13 tackles, but his real value was shown in his bigger plays. He had three tackles for loss and broke up a pass in the first half. While the Detroit defensive line and secondary receive most of the attention and praise, Levy has been putting together perhaps the best season of his career.

What’s next: Detroit stays on the road for the second straight week, heading to Cleveland in a bid to stay over .500 for the season.

Rapid Reaction: Chicago Bears

October, 6, 2013

CHICAGO -- A few thoughts on the Chicago Bears' 26-18 loss to the New Orleans Saints at Soldier Field:

What it means: Chicago hasn’t lost two in a row since December of 2012, and now has to go into a short week with the sting of that on its mind. The Bears still aren’t where they want to be, but there’s no reason to panic, because the team continues to show signs of growth.

Stock watch: Matt Forte's fumble on the first play from scrimmage short-circuited the team’s opening drive, and the play was typical of the type of day the team experienced early. Quarterback Jay Cutler suffered three sacks, and a fumble, leading to a Saints field goal. Despite a decent outing from Cutler, the protection early let him down, as did receivers. Earl Bennett's dropped ball on fourth down with 8:40 left, which would have converted a fourth-and-2 at the New Orleans 25, hurt Chicago’s chances for a rally.

Injuries mounting: Starting defensive tackle Stephen Paea made the team’s list of inactives for Sunday’s game after being listed earlier in the week as questionable with a turf toe injury. Paea’s inactivity paved the way for Nate Collins and Landon Cohen to start against the Saints. But Collins, who posted his first career solo sack in the first half, left the game in the third quarter with a left knee injury, and was later declared out for the game.

The team already lost three-technique defensive tackle Henry Melton with a torn ACL, and cornerback Charles Tillman has practiced only one day per week for the majority of the season because of a sore groin and knee.

If Collins is forced out for an extended period, the Bears will likely wind up starting Cohen and Corey Wootton at tackle. The club will also be forced to look for more depth at the position on the waiver wire. It’s worth noting Chicago signed Cohen two days prior to the Sept. 29 loss to at Detroit.

Postseason chances slightly diminished? Since the playoffs moved to the 12-team format in 1990, 77 percent of teams that started the season 4-1 reached the playoffs (98 of 128 teams). Clubs with 3-2 records after the first five games have gone to the postseason 51 percent of the time (95 of 186).

What’s next: The Bears face a difficult four-day turnaround when they play host to the New York Giants on Thursday night.



Thursday, 10/2
Sunday, 10/5