NFC North: audibles 5

Audibles: NFC North Week 5 preview

October, 3, 2008
10/03/08
4:00
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Chicago Bears (2-2) at Detroit Lions (0-3), 1 p.m. ET

The Lions have had two weeks to prepare for a Bears team that could be without both starting cornerbacks Sunday at Ford Field.

Charles Tillman (shoulder) and Nate Vasher (hand) are nursing injuries and might not be available to defend Lions receivers Roy Williams and Calvin Johnson. Detroit spent the first three weeks of the season trying to establish their running game, but an 0-3 record suggests the Lions should re-focus around their two best players.

Offensive coordinator Jim Colletto, in fact, has said he expects to sprinkle more passes into the early part of the game. This could all be subterfuge for a team that truly plans to run Rudi Johnson at the Chicago defense all day, but it makes too much sense to think otherwise.

The Bears most definitely will point tailback Matt Forte north to attack a Lions run defense that is giving up an NFL-worst 207.7 yards per game, but we're guessing Detroit will work harder to maximize Williams and Johnson.

Green Bay Packers (2-2) vs. Atlanta Falcons (2-2), 1 p.m. ET

Whether Aaron Rodgers or rookie Matt Flynn starts at quarterback, you have to figure the Packers will rely more heavily on their running game Sunday against the Falcons. Rodgers hardly practiced during the week and at best will play with a sore right shoulder.

If Flynn starts, the Packers aren't likely to put him into more pressure situations than necessary. That means it's time for Green Bay tailback Ryan Grant and his offensive line to step up after averaging 93.5 rushing yards per game as a team during the first quarter of the season.

The Falcons haven't been competitive on the road, losing by 15 points at Tampa Bay and Carolina, and their run defense is ranked No. 23 overall in the NFL.

The Packers would be well-advised to limit their risks on offense, control the ball and keep their injury-depleted defense off the field.

Minnesota Vikings (1-3) at New Orleans (2-2), 8:30 p.m. ET Monday night

This game could provide a surprise two-way aerial show for viewers of ESPN's Monday Night Football.

We know all about the Saints' high-flying offense, which averages an NFL-high 327 yards passing per game. But the Vikings, coming off their best passing day of the Brad Childress era, are actually licking their chops as well.

The Saints have one of the league's worst pass defenses, having given up almost 250 yards per game. Gus Frerotte and Tarvaris Jackson combined for 272 passing yards last week at Tennessee, and receiver Bernard Berrian is predicting big things for Monday night's matchup.

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