NFC North: Final Word 2010 Week 7

Final Word: NFC North

October, 22, 2010
10/22/10
4:00
PM ET
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 7:

[+] EnlargeBrett Favre
Kevin P. Coughlin/Icon SMIBrett Favre has already been sacked 13 times.
Favre vs. the blitz: According to unofficial press box totals, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre has taken 29 hits in five games this season, including 13 sacks. He has reacted poorly to the blitz, throwing three interceptions among 60 attempts against five or more pass-rushers, and would seem vulnerable to the kind of heavy but unpredictable pass rush that Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers usually designs. But will Capers pull the trigger? As we noted Thursday, he blitzed on only about 30 percent of the Vikings' pass plays during two games last season. That's on par with his tendencies this season; according to ESPN Stats & Information, Capers has blitzed on about 29.3 percent of Packers opponents' pass plays. It will be interesting to see if Capers thinks he can get to Favre with a standard rush and devote maximum players to coverage, or if he gets more aggressive with the rush.

Rodgers vs. the blitz: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has taken nine sacks in his past two games and will be facing the team that sacked him 14 times in two games last season. Green Bay isn't expected to have veteran right tackle Mark Tauscher, meaning rookie Bryan Bulaga will face Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards, and Chad Clifton will be matched up against All-Pro Jared Allen. But the Vikings' pass rush hasn't been piling up nearly as many sacks this season, and Minnesota enters this game tied for the second-lowest total (six) in the NFL. Allen, who had 7.5 sacks in two games against the Packers last season, has one sack this year. Clifton didn't play in the teams' first matchup last season and has typically held his own against Allen. So we'll find out whether the Packers' pass protection has improved, or if the Vikings' has regressed, or both. Or neither. Stay tuned.

Full moon: You know what happened the last time Randy Moss was in Green Bay. We'll call it "Moon over Lambeau." That 2004 playoff incident probably overshadows what has been an amazing career against the Packers. In 14 games against them from 1998 to 2004, Moss had 70 receptions for 1,313 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has three 150-plus yard games against Green Bay. More than anything, it will be interesting to see whether Favre has enough time to set up some downfield passes for Moss, or if they'll need to get it into his hands via shorter routes.

Run, Martz, run. After all of the heat he took for abandoning the run game last weekend against the Seattle Seahawks, you wonder how much Chicago Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz will be tempted to use it Sunday against the Washington Redskins. The Redskins have the NFL's second-worst pass defense. They're allowing an average of 298 yards per game, and opponents are averaging an NFL-high 43.8 attempts per game against them. If they keep up this pace, the Redskins will break the NFL record for most passing yards allowed in a season. Will Martz try to capitalize on that apparent vulnerability? Or will he recognize his offensive line's inexperience, play it safer and limit the Redskins' opportunities to rush the passer? Ah, temptation....

Gun shy. Intuitively, it makes sense that the Bears should use the shotgun formation to give quarterback Jay Cutler additional separation from pass-rushers. But according to ESPN Stats & Information, the Bears have used the shotgun an NFL-low 42 times this season. Why? They've been sacked seven times in that small sample of plays, the highest rate of any NFL team, and have the league's lowest completion percentage out of the shotgun. The average NFL team is sacked once for almost 20 shotgun formations. What it means: More than the shotgun, the key to escaping a pass rush is quicker drops and moving the pocket. In this case, the shotgun might actually encourage a slower-developing play.

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