Friday, October 1, 2010
Final Word: NFC North
By Kevin Seifert
Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 4:
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can set an obscure NFL record if he throws for at least 300 yards Sunday against the Detroit Lions. Rodgers is tied for the most 300-yard games against one opponent to open a career (four). Sunday would be his fifth. In his career against the Lions, Rodgers has completed 70.3 percent of his passes for an average of 335.5 yards per game. He has 11 touchdown passes and one interception in those games. This season, the Lions' pass defense is allowing an average of 265 yards per game, ranking them No. 26 among NFL teams. I like Rodgers' chances, unless the Packers overtly try to establish their running game after some disappointing production over the past few weeks.
The Lions will be trying to stop their 22-game road losing streak with Shaun Hill at quarterback.
The Lions' 0-3 start has brought an avalanche of almost unbelievable marks of futility. They have lost 40 of their past 43 games dating to 2007, the worst 43-game record in NFL history, according to STATS Inc. With a loss Sunday, the Lions can set a record for consecutive road defeats to one opponent. A loss Sunday would be their 19th consecutive in Wisconsin, not including a 1994 playoff game. It would also extend the Lions' overall road losing streak to 23 games, tying the second-longest mark in NFL history. The longest? That's right. It's the Lions' 24-game road losing streak from 2001-04. Ugh.
It's hard to imagine the Lions pulling an upset without tailback Jahvid Best in the lineup, and it's harder still to imagine Best at full strength after a turf toe injury sidelined him for most of the practice week. A foot injury for any speed-based player must be taken seriously. But as we discussed Thursday, the Lions really need Best and his open-field running threat to combat the deep zones they're seeing. If the Packers choose to focus on receiver Calvin Johnson, you would think that Best, along with tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, would have openings in the flat and intermediate areas.
The Chicago Bears are the only 3-0 team in the NFC, but they're not getting much love from the prognosticators. Five of ESPN's 10 NFL experts picked the New York Giants to win Sunday night's game at the New Meadowlands Stadium. Our friends at AccuScore found that the Giants won 62 percent of their digital game simulations, primarily because quarterback Eli Manning held down his turnovers. The Giants have played better than their 1-2 record, and it's fair to say the Bears' defense will have to force Manning into mistakes to ensure a victory. So far this season, Manning has thrown six interceptions, lost two fumbles and been sacked seven times.
Don't look now, but Bears quarterback Jay Cutler has thrown for more yards in the season's first three games (870) than any passer in team history. He'll have an interesting matchup against the Giants' defense, the NFL's fourth-best pass defense based on total yards allowed (169.3 per game) but one that has only a modest six sacks, tied for No. 13 in the league. It's interesting to note that Cutler and the Bears will match wits against Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who spurned an offer to become defensive coordinator in Chicago this year and went to New York instead.