Hi everyone. Let's do this. We'll keep it as NFC North-centric as possible.
Regarding Cutler--have you ever seen a more mundane stat line for such a spectacular game?
I thought he was a little jittery early, but that's to be understood given the pressure he was under. That he finished the game without a sack is stunning and a great compliment to his performance. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Martz didn't help him out much. He had a five- or seven-step drop on 29 of his 32 passes.
As a Lion's fan, no matter what happens from here, it's just nice to be relevant again.
Understood, but I would be greedy if I were you. There are so many things that have to happen for a playoff-type season. A lot of them are happening for the Lions. You don't want to miss out on this opportunity.
Harvin or Winfield? Which one should Viking fans be more excited about getting back healthy after the bye?
Harvin has played pretty well despite the injury. So I would go with Winfield. Their secondary has been outmanned without him.
One of the most important things for a rookie to do is to react to what teams do when a book gets out on them. The Packers will be the first team to get a second look at Christian Ponder. What do you think the Packers will do differently than the first time and how will Ponder react to those changes?
Fair question. They blitzed him a lot in their first game and played a lot of man-to-man defense. He seemed to handle it pretty well. Independent of that, it sounds like there is a groundswell for the Packers to change up a few of their defensive tendencies, at least based on what Charles Woodson said.
What do you think is the earliest time you think that Best could return? Is it possible that he could be out for the year? Should the Lions draft another Running-back?
It's going to be a week-to-week thing, and this week it doesn't look good. I do think there is a possibility he won't return, but that's just based on the fact that concussions are unpredictable and there is no way to know when the symptoms will lift. As for the draft, quite possibly, yes.
Musgrave seems much more dialed in the last couple of games for the Vikes. Even using Gerhart well. Is this a testament agaisnt McNabb or for Ponder? Because the change seemed to happen when the quarterback changed.
I don't know if that's perception or reality. But he does seem to have a better feel for what Ponder does well as opposed to McNabb.
Is Raji being double teamed more then not or is he just not the force I hoped he would be? Thanks.
I don't know that he's seeing a dramatic uptick in double teams. He's been decent against the run, but clearly isn't getting into the backfield against the pass as much as he did last year.
I don't know that he's seeing a dramatic uptick in double teams. He's been decent against the run, but clearly isn't getting into the backfield against the pass as much as he did last year.
Can the Lions contend in the playoffs without a solid running game? Do they need more than just a healthy Javid Best?
They need one that can at least keep defenses honest. That means a commitment to running plays and occasional production. That's a low standard, and it's possible the Lions could do that.
Kevin: Wouldn't you have to agree that, ironically, one of the Pack's biggest hurdles to overcome to reach the Super Bowl this year might be their own homefield advantage? This team has one of the best passing offenses in NFL history, but are basically average in all other areas. If they had to play a freezing, stormy weather game against a team like, I dunno, the Bears in January, wouldn't you have to like Chicago's chances?
It might limit some of the Packers' quick-strike ability, but I don't know if it would be enough to make them lose the game. I think they have a relatively potent running game with James Starks. They just don't use it because they are obviously much more potent via the pass.
Do we have any updates on Nick Fairley? How did he look when he was on the field?
Made very little impact in the three games he was on the field. You have to wonder if he was fully recovered from the foot injury. Sounds like he's back in practice this week, at least on a limited basis.
We haven't seen the Calvin fade in a few weeks. You would have to think a bye week would allow Linehan to see again that they can force it no matter the coverage. Megatron watch is fading and shouldn't be....
I haven't seen too many opportunities. Teams aren't looking to give him single coverage in the red zone.
What's the latest on the stadium talks?
Dayton termed it "The Twlight Zone." Basically everyone is waiting to find out if there will be legislative consensus to address it before the 2012 session begins. Otherwise, the Vikings' lease will expire before any deal could be reached.
Kevin, what do you think is the bigger issue with the Packers defense: lack of pass rush or blown coverage in the secondary? Sunday the secondary looked pretty poor, but Rivers was never taken off his mark and made uncomfortable when they dropped into coverage. Blitz seemed to be working okay, but not great. Thoughts?
Good question. They're not getting enough pass rush, and that is giving the secondary more time to blow coverages. Typically, you rate rush ahead of coverage in terms of priority. So I'll say that a lack of pass rush is the Packers' bigger issue.
Kevin, how crazy will this blog be if 3 teams from the NFCN make the playoffs?? Repeat on the Epicenter of Humanity?
We've already decided that would make us the Center of the Universe. Hang on.
Kevin, why does Jay Cutler continue to get these questionable roughing the passer calls? Last year it was the ridiculous call against Suh, and then there was last night's against Babin.
A lot of quarterbacks get calls like that. The NFL is in the business of protecting quarterbacks. But I will say that Cutler has a habit of extending plays, which provides more opportunities for defenders to get near him and take their shots.
Once again Kevin, I stand by my point last week. As long as the Packers can score more points than the other guys, it doesn't matter how many yardage the defense gives up.
And I'll stand by my point (and Woodson's): Is it fair to assume the Packers offense to keep putting up so many points every week?
Kev! Stop the presses! The Bears open up as 2.5 point FAVORITES against Detroit?!?!?!? People finally respecting the Bears?
Heard it is now at 3 points. Bears getting the respect a home team should get.
from one kevin to another about a kevin....whats the deal with kevin smith? Will he start and what role will he play?
He won't start and he'll at best be a role player in the beginning.
Given Aaron Rodgers' utter dominance in the new QBR stat, can ESPN rename it something more appropriate? Perhaps the Rodgers Meter?
How about the Rodgers Rating?
Kevin, forget 16-0. How would you evaluate Rodgers' chances of breaking any of the following records? Yardage, completion percentage, rating. Thanks.
I'd say he has the best chance at passer rating. He's built a big head start.
Do you expect a similar split in the workload for Morris & Williams, or do you think Morris deserves to get more of the share?
I kind of like what Williams has done, but I'm guessing more of the same in terms of the split.
I didn't see the Woodson thing. Did he give any hints as to what they're going to do differently?
No. He just said they need to find ways to move Clay Matthews around more instead of locking him into one side and natural double teams.
Do you think the Lions are still thinking about the controversial loss last year at Chicago?Perhaps something to prove?
I'm sure it will come up and perhaps be a full circle of their redemption, etc., etc. But mostly they're thinking about the playoffs.
Kev, didn't vikes drafted couple of DBs this year. Why can't they use them since they are in rebuilding mode to gain some experience?
I wonder if they will try to get Mistral Raymond on the field at safety. He's been an intriguing prospect in practice.
lions @ bears game could have play off implication but do u think the bears will have a chip on their shoulder after the monday nite loss to the lions?
Their main motivation will be beating the Lions to get closer to the playoffs, not for revenge.
Is there any where I can find stats on "off target throws?" Rodgers numbers could be scary
I believe ESPN Stats & Information tracks overthrows and underthrows, which would get us close. They're both subjective observations, because we don't always know if a pass was off target or if the receiver didn't hit his spot. But I'll see what I can find out and do a blog post on it if it's interesting.
Im not understanding your theory that Cutler was under pressure early....I thought the O-line played outstanding last night and gave Jay plenty of time to throw. The improvement is more noticeable each and every week and should only get strong when Carimi returns. Only 3 sacks allowed in the last 3 games. The Bears can be really good if they give Jay that kind of protection every week!
Yes, the pass protection was fine, but I felt like defenders were getting into the pocket and Cutler was doing what he had to do to avoid it.
In your opinion how is chris conte playing?
Looks like a rookie safety to me. Around the ball a fair amount. Misses some open field tackles.
How about giving someone other than Zombo and Walden to rush the other side and help Matthews out. What ever happened to Vic de'Soto. That guy had a monster preseason to make the team and I haven't seen him since.
No denying what So'oto did in the preseason, which sometimes is indicative of future success and sometimes isn't. Seems like the Packers have him behind those two guys plus Brad Jones. I'm not sure if So'oto is the answer you're looking for.
After the Bears win Sunday will you concede that Detroit is a good up coming team but not quite there yet? They won't make the playoffs, BTW.
If the Bears win Sunday, I'll note that they're well on their way to the playoffs and that the Lions could be, too. We won't be counting out the Lions if they lose at Soldier Field for a split of the season series. Both the Lions and Bears would be 6-3 at that point.
Trying again -- what role do you think Leonard Davis will have for the Lions?
Sorry. I would guess the Lions consider him a veteran who won't embarrass them if he has to replace a starter. Doubt they're looking to bench anyone at this point.
Last night's Bears D looked quite different from the one we're used to seeing. A lot more blitzing, man coverage, etc. Is this a trend or a tactic for stopping a unique challenge in Vick et al?
I'm guessing they felt like they had to have guys near the line of scrimmage to defend Vick and McCoy. It worked, and their defensive backs showed they could play some serious bump-and-run.
Kevin, the Packer defense has had its issues but don't you find them to be a bit overblown? They have as many playmakers as any team on that side of the ball and are still adjusting to life without their field general, Nick Collins, which has led to some blown assignments. There's plenty of time to right the ship and Dom Capers won't go quietly into the night. Just saying, they'll be fine.
It's a tough question. They've had at least two interceptions in the past six games. So you want to say they've demonstrated they can consistently make the equalizing plays. On the other hand, that's the longest streak of games with at least two interceptions in the NFL in at least 10 years. So historically, at least, it's tough to expect this to continue. At some point, they're not going to get the plays that mask the shortcomings.
On the MNF broadcast yesterday, they said Andy Reid & Co. draw up 10-12 different screen passes in each game. What stops the Vikes from doing this?
Part of having a good screen game is catching defenses respecting deep routes by receivers. Would you respect a deep route by a Vikings receiver?
If Mike Neal can't effectively contribute this season do we have to mention him in the "Justin Harrell" category of early drafted lineman who will never be healthy?
Well, technically he will be in the running there but under different circumstances. Big difference in a first and second round pick. And Harrell's history of injuries in college made him a warning sign right off the bat.
i am all with Ted Thompson policy of building through the draft, but do you think GB should have got some SS or DE during free agency?
Moot point. The Packers don't do it that way, for better or worse.
What assistant coach for the Bears do you think is doing the best this year? Toub is always the easy answer, and Tice is doing a great job, but I think Marinelli is doing a bang up job these last few weeks. The scheming and the in game adjustments have been terrific.
Fair nomination. I think Tice gets the Excedrin award. He has to have the most headaches of any coach on that roster.
Will Asher Allen be the nickel guy now with Griffin and Winfield starting?
Vikings will beat the Pack at Lambeau Monday night. You heard it hear first.
If I here the same, I'll let you know....
So I know it won't be revealed until Friday...but I believe it's safe to assume that you'll be in Chicago on Sunday and up in Green Bay for Monday Night's game. Work you double time this weekend Kev!
If you want to call it work....
With two prime time division showdowns coming up does our fearless NFC North blogger plan on making two trips this week?
It could be one long trip, too....
How did Bennett's return last night affect the rotation of the other receivers? Did any one player have their play time cut significantly and do you think that trend will continue?
I haven't seen the play-time numbers yet, but I would guess it hit Sanzenbacher the most. After last night, I would say the Lions won't be taking Bennett off the field anytime soon.
Do you think the Bears continue to ride with Lance Louis at right tackle, even if Carimi is fully healthy this week? Hard to argue with his results.
Not sure if Carimi is healthy, so it might be a moot point. But Louis has given the Bears A LOT to think about.
Vikings draft priorities for the offseason... OT, CB, S in that order. Agree?
They're also going to have to address MLB if they don't bring E.J. Henderson back.
So Kevin, do you travel around the division and go to practices and pick the games of the most interest to you? I'm just curious how you spend your days and are able to stay on top of four teams (if you count the Vikings as a team) so thoroughly.
Ha, not nice.... The reality is that traveling around the division during the week wouldn't be very effective. NFL teams open only a small portion of practice each day. I can't justify traveling to see guys stretch. Most of what I write comes off game observations, keeping track of developments via local media and remote correspondence (phone/email/text) with people who know what's going on.
With Harvin back to near 100% will he resume kick-off return duties or will Sherells take on both return jobs full-time?
Unclear at this point, but you would think they would want Harvin returning at least a few kickoffs in each game.
ProFootballFocus says Erik Walden actually had a pretty good game and could be becoming a foil for Matthews. Thoughts?http://www.profootballfocus.com/blog/2011/11/08/re-focused-packers-chargers-week-9/
I thought Walden flashed a few times just watching the game live. He chased someone, I believe Rivers, all the way across the field to the far sideline for a tackle and then had a big tip as well. The issue seems to be not so much as finding a foil for Matthews but getting him into better pass-rushing spots.
Over/Under sacks for Jared Allen on Rodgers on MNF....2.5?Over/under team sacks on Rodgers......4?
Yeesh. He has 11.5 sacks in games against the Packers that Chad Clifton hasn't started.
Not bring me back?!?! Tough to be productive with K-Will and Remi getting blocked 5 yards back in my face every play.
Agreed. Just basing that on age and contract status.
Has it been the emergence of Titus Young or the injuries to Tony Scheffler that have led the Leos to kind of move away from using a lot of 2-TE sets?
Probably a combo, but I feel like Heller has been on the field for a decent amount of time.
Kevins word of the day...moot.
Uh-oh. How many times have I used it? Oh well, moot point with 10 minutes left.
should the vikings move winfield to safety?
I wonder if they should consider that with Cedric Griffin.
Why has Kyle Rudolph been so invisible so far this year? I thought at least Musgrave would split him away from the line to create mismatches in the secondary?
Me too. For the most part, though, Shiancoe has played pretty well and they really want Kleinsasser's blocking out there for the running game.
Who does the Monday Night Football opening for the Packers? Bart Star? Maybe a shocker and Brett Favre?
I honesty don't know. I want to say there is a better chance for the former than the latter, but....
What does Guaranteed Money mean exactly...do they have to pay you all of that money?
The strict definition is, yes, anything "guaranteed" is to be paid out regardless of whether skills or injuries force the player to break the contract.
Alright Kevin straighten me out....Im looking at the Vikings offense as the poor man's NE offense with a better running game. Playing the parts of Welker(Harvin), Branch(Aromashadou), Gronkowski(Shiancoe), and Hernandez(Rudolph)...what do you think?
When Ponder becomes Tom Brady, you'll be on to something.
What (if any) team will beat the Packers this year?
I think the Lions match up well against them. But we'll see in a few weeks for ourselves.
OK, a few more here.
The Bears are improving as a whole, the WR's seems to be the weakest spot considering the Oline has improved why don't they just stop rotating WR's pick their top 3 and ride them to the playoffs?
I'm not sure if they have three receivers who are that much further ahead than the rest to justify that.
Hey Kevin, what do you think the Bears' front office thinks of Forte whining to the media on a weekly basis?
They can't be happy about it, but they probably also recognize a lot of their players are unhappy about the situation.
As a packers fan I have to say Jared Allen has been a nightmare for my team since he was traded to Minnesota. Can we start talking hall of fame for Allen?
We did that over the summer. The fact of the matter is he will be one of the best pass rushers of this generation. But there are several other players who fall under the category who haven't gotten in. Kevin Greene is atop that list. Chris Doleman is another. Can't really explain why, but that's how the voting has gone.
Is there an update on the Devin Hester injury?
Nothing beyond an ankle sprain at this point.
I feel like keeping a QB and it's receivers together over the years is just as important as keeping the same O-Line together.
Very good point, and a big reason why Aaron Rodgers was so adamant about getting James Jones back this year.
Your thought's on Chris Cook's situation? Will he play again this year? Has the team decided not to discipline from within?
I think the discipline has already occurred -- the two-week suspension. Otherwise, it sure seems like they're planning to keep him around at this point.
OK everyone, thanks so much. Chat with you soon!