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Friday, September 26, 2008
Audibles: NFC North Week 4 preview


Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Green Bay Packers (2-1) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1), 1 p.m. ET

Buccaneers quarterback Brian Griese threw an unheard-of 67 times last week against Chicago. Yes, it was an overtime game, but it's safe to say the Bucs feel good about their passing game.

That confidence should make for an interesting matchup Sunday at Raymond James Stadium, where the Packers will bring an injury-depleted secondary. At least two starters, cornerback Al Harris and safety Atari Bigby, are expected to miss the game -- and two other safeties were nursing injuries as the weekend began.

If neither Nick Collins nor Aaron Rouse are available, the Packers will be down to their third-string safeties (Charlie Peprah and Jarrett Bush). The changes don't have to be game-breakers, but rest assured: Griese will test the Packers secondary from the outset.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2) at Tennessee Titans (3-0), 1 p.m. ET

The defensive tackle tandem of Kevin and Pat Williams receive plenty of due credit for the Vikings' strong run defense. But no less important is the play of middle linebacker E.J. Henderson, whose sideline-to-sideline ferocity will be just as critical Sunday against a Titans rushing offense that is averaging 157 yards per game.

Vikings coaches already have credited Henderson with four tackles behind the line of scrimmage, one sack, one forced fumble and 31 tackles overall this season. He isn't the NFL's fastest linebacker, but his sure-footed instincts will make him a good match against Titans tailbacks LenDale White and Chris Johnson.

Henderson's intensity this season recently prompted defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier to make a pretty strong comparison. "He reminds me a little bit of [Mike] Singletary," said Frazier, a teammate of Singletary's when both played for the Chicago Bears.

The Williamses will get plenty of attention from the Tennessee offensive line, but the Titans would be well-advised to keep close tabs on Henderson as well.

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1) at Chicago Bears (1-2), 8:15 p.m. ET

We've hashed through the Bears' defensive problems pretty thoroughly here this week. Suffice it to say, there's some concern in Chicago about the damage Donovan McNabb -- chest injury or otherwise -- could inflict along with his 10 closest friends Sunday night.

Yet that's not the only issue the Bears are facing. Through three weeks, the Eagles have the NFL's best run defense, allowing 45.7 rushing yards per game. If that performance holds true at Soldier Field, the Bears will lose the production of their best and most consistent offensive player: Tailback Matt Forte.

Forte has touched the ball on 43 percent of Chicago's offensive plays and has 73 carries through three games. Do the Bears trust their passing game to carry the offense? Do you?