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Audibles: NFC North Week 6 preview

10/10/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

Chicago Bears (3-2) at Atlanta Falcons (3-2), 1 p.m. ET

Free advice to the Bears: Hold on when the whistle blows for the opening kickoff. ESPN Research points out the Falcons have outscored opponents 56-0 in the first quarter of their two home games this season. They've also outgained their visiting foes by 350 yards in the first quarter (385-35).

Allowing the Falcons to jump ahead early feeds into their strength: With a lead, they'll keep pounding tailbacks Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood until the defense is worn out.

The Bears have displayed an improved passing game over the past two weeks, but most of their yards have come after attaining a lead. That's not to say they can't throw from behind, but this might not be the week they would want to find out.

Detroit Lions (0-4) at Minnesota Vikings (2-3), 1 p.m. ET

Six days after they seemed headed to 1-4, the Vikings are planning to be 3-3 when Sunday is over. It's true that any NFL team can beat any other NFL team at any point, but we're still in the process of confirming the Lions still have their league charter.

We can only hope Lions coaches were hiding some schematic secret earlier this week when they indicated they were scrapping their three- and four-receiver sets against a defense that is far more susceptible to the pass than the run. I can't see any way the Lions manage more than 80 yards rushing Sunday.

On the other hand, it does look like the kind of game Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson could get healthy for in a hurry. Peterson hasn't rushed for more than 80 yards in a game since straining his hamstring Sept. 14 against Indianapolis. Last season, Peterson had only one 100-yard game after spraining his right knee in Week 10. Yes, you guessed it. He rushed for 116 yards on 15 carries against the Lions in Week 13.

Green Bay Packers (2-3) at Seattle Seahawks (1-3), 4:15 p.m. ET

Here's one way to look at this game: The Seahawks' offense might actually be more undermanned than the Packers' defense. Don't believe us? Seattle might have no choice but to start former Packers receiver Koren Robinson. Yikes.

This has been an interesting week in Green Bay. Coach Mike McCarthy admitted he laid into his team Wednesday, but by Friday morning he was complimenting them on a strong week of practice.

Depending on how this game goes, the Packers could look back on this week as the point where they regained the swagger of a playoff-caliber team. Or, it could be the time when it became apparent they need to take a step back.