NFC North: NFC Stock Watch 2010 Week 8

How I See It: NFC North Stock Watch

November, 3, 2010
11/03/10
10:00
AM ET
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FALLING

1. Accountability in Minnesota: Nearly 48 hours after deciding to waive receiver Randy Moss, the Minnesota Vikings have yet to produce any sort of explanation. Coach Brad Childress released a statement Monday night saying the move was in the best short- and long-term interests of the team but offered no reasons and no acknowledgment of the third-round draft pick wasted in this debacle. Childress is scheduled to speak to reporters Wednesday at about 12:30 p.m. ET, so perhaps he will shed some light then. During a Tuesday radio interview, however, Childress said that discussion should remain "in-house." I'm always amused by professional sports teams who consider themselves public trusts when they want hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars for new stadiums -- but a private business when it comes to discussing the football decisions their fans care deeply about. Playing your financiers for fools is never good business.

[+] EnlargeKreutz
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesOlin Kreutz is the only Bears offensive lineman in the same position he was when camp broke.
2. Job security along the Chicago Bears' offensive line: When they return Sunday from their bye week, the Bears are expected to have their fifth different combination of linemen since the season started. Some of the changes have come because of injury, but some have come as the result of lineup tinkering that is probably best suited for training camp. Against the Buffalo Bills, the Bears are expected to have Chris Williams and Roberto Garza at guards, with Frank Omiyale and J'Marcus Webb at tackles. Only center Olin Kreutz will be in the same position he was when camp broke. Barring injury, don't the Bears have to stick with this group for sanity's sake?

3. Attendance at Ford Field: The Detroit Lions had some 23,000 empty seats Sunday at Ford Field for Sunday's 37-23 victory over the Washington Redskins, their first non-sellout of the season. I'm not one to make a value judgment on whether people should pay hundreds of dollars to attend a three-hour football game. But I will say it should now be obvious the Lions have their most interesting team in recent memory, one that continues to lead the NFC in average points per game and has already won two of its first three home games of the year. I'll be interested to see whether the general optimism around the Lions translates into better ticket sales as the holiday season approaches.

RISING

1. Defensive intelligence in Green Bay: Credit is due many areas of the Green Bay Packers' operation for Sunday's 9-0 victory at the New York Jets, but it would be hard for anyone to surpass the praise due defensive coordinator Dom Capers. With a mishmash of personnel in each position group, Capers found a way to notch the NFL's first shutout in 2010 and the Packers' first road shutout since 1991. Among many areas, Capers proved willing to utilize every bit of new nose tackle Howard Green's 360 pounds to close the gaps in his run defense. Green didn't join the Packers until late last week, but Capers immediately had a realistic package for him ready to go.

2. Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions quarterback: Stafford bounced back from an early interception to throw four touchdown passes Sunday. We made a big deal about his interception total last season, so it's only fair that we point out he has thrown only one in his first 60 passes of the 2010 season. More importantly, Stafford displayed the gumption you want out of any rising quarterback, calmly throwing a go-ahead touchdown pass to receiver Calvin Johnson on fourth down in the fourth quarter. It will be fun to see how he matches up Sunday against another young gun of the 2009 draft, New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.

3. Steel prices in Minnesota: There shouldn't be much supply remaining after quarterback Brett Favre seemingly bought it all up and used it for armor in the Vikings' 28-18 loss to the New England Patriots. Favre's performance has largely been overshadowed by the Moss mess, but I thought he played his best game of the year despite two fractures in his left foot. And I still can't believe how lucid he was during a postgame news conference, about an hour after he appeared nearly unconscious following a fourth-quarter chin shot. He's the Bionic Man, although with inflation the cost has gone from $6 million to $16 million.

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