Lions and Bears, Oh My!Posted:Sep 12th, 2011 2:26 pm
I saw more of the Vikings than I did of the Lions and Bears on Sunday. With my son Jackson trying to follow his three fantasy teams, we spent most of the time on the Red Zone channel during the early games. Jackson loves the dude with the big ears (Andrew Siciliano).
But what the Lions and Bears did on the field Sunday should get Packers fans' attention. Let's start with Detroit, a team that propelled the Pack into the post-season last year with a win in Tampa that ended their 26 game road losing streak. The Lions showed that they will be a tough out all year if their QB stays healthy. I thought Josh Freeman would march the Bucs up and down the field, but the Lions D held up, particularly against the run.
Where Tampa Bay really struggled was defensively, where their stable of high draft picks from the past two years were largely ineffective against Matthew Stafford and the Lions. Detroit was in control in this game from the start and didn't settle for field goals. With Calvin Johnson, Rick Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit has playmakers all over the field and a road win against a 10-win team from 2010 makes a big statement.
As for the Bears, you can argue that no team was more impressive defensively (OK, maybe the Ravens). They have everybody questioning Matt Ryan this morning. Despite Lance Briggs whining about a new contract, the defense picked up where it left off last season and completely dominated from the opening snap. Ryan largely couldn't find star Roddy White and was never in sync. The Falcons will need to make huge strides during the week to avoid an 0-2 start. They face the new-look Eagles defense and the return of Michael Vick on Sunday night.
Jay Cutler had time--the Falcons pass rush looked as meager as it did against the Pack in January--and he found Matt Forte often. Chicago has a stiff test this week in New Orleans, facing a Saints team that has ten days to lick its wounds. We'll have a clearer sign of where this team is following this one. Remember, the Packers head to Soldier Field the following week, so we've got to watch this game closely.
As for the Vikings, they were in this one till the end, thanks in large part to the loss of Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding, who tore his ACL on Percy Harvin's game-opening kickoff return. The defense played pretty well and were stout against the run. They made Vincent Jackson invisible, but couldn't handle Antonio Gates or passes to the running backs.
Offensively, Donovan McNabb was terrible, just 39 yards passing. The team showed that their wide receiver corps is among the weakest in the league. I will say I thought McNabb moved a bit better than I thought he would--showed a little speed. Their home opener against the Bucs this weekend will be very telling. It's a game they should feel like they can win. The Lions threw the ball at will against them...will the Vikes?
The Packers game at Carolina looks a little more interesting, too. Cam Newton had the most prolific debut for a QB in league history at Arizona, throwing for more than 400 yards. He gets Dom Capers and a Packers defense that is itching to show that it is better than it showed in the opener. I expect the young QB to come back to earth this Sunday, though I think he will be a star in this league in 3-5 years.