Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR
Celebrating his fourth year as coach of the Detroit Lions, Jim Caldwell is going to try and get him and his team something they haven’t accomplished since 1991 — a division title, and probably much more.
Through tough grit on both offense and the defense taking advantage of a miserable New York Giants attack, Detroit seems to be more confident than ever after a rare 2-0 start and sitting atop the NFC North. Is it time to start believing in this Lions team? Still a little too early to tell, but they’re looking good so far.
“You know, they’re a good front four. We knew we were going to have to get the ball out quickly,” said Giants quarterback Eli Manning to the media after Monday night’s 24-10 Detroit thumping of his G-men.
Detroit indeed got after Eli Manning very effectively. Defensive lineman Ezekiel Ansah was arguably the Player of the Game Monday night, contributing three sacks to the team’s overall five and an overall six tackles. The Lions’ pass defense, currently ranked 2nd in the league in interceptions, had another fine performance, negating the impact of Manning and his deep WR corps, including the ever-dangerous Odell Beckham Jr.
Caldwell seems to be one of those coaches who people always want to put on the hot seat even with his overall solid track record as a head coach. It’s clear the name of Caldwell’s game is getting his men to play winning football and to win big, he may be onto his most impressive coaching job yet if the Lion’s continue with their early momentum.
Packers Still Can’t Figure Falcons
As for the Green Bay Packers, there are some legitimate concerns popping up for Wisconsin’s team.
You can’t argue that on any given night the Pack can compete with the NFC’s best, but it seems they can’t get a hold of those Atlanta Falcons, especially in the state of Georgia. You have to figure if any regular season or playoff games are scheduled in Atlanta again in the next year it will be way too soon for Aaron Rodgers and company.
Green Bay’s “Nitro” defense has caught some headlines up north coming into this season and through Week 1’s tough win over Seatttle, however, the Falcons still know how to put the Vikint!
“We didn’t do enough,” said linebacker Clay Matthews to the media afterwards. “I know it’s one game, but it’s unfortunate, especially when you want to test yourself against the best.”
Yes, the Packers are wounded, no less a loss than standout defensive tackle Mike Daniels hamstrung the team at Atlanta, but according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, a key offensive cog who also got sidelined Sunday night isn’t doing as bad as previously thought.
Schefter has reported that Jordy Nelson’s quad strain is, “not considered serious” and that he is “50-50” for Sunday when the Pack host the Bengals.
With a couple more days rest Nelson should be ready to go again, which should be key in what could be a tight defensive battle with an embarrassed Cincinnati team that is still without an offensive touchdown after two weeks of play. Rodgers’ connections with the likes of Nelson should be the difference over Andy Dalton and the Bengals.
Vikings Can’t Do Without Bradford
The Minnesota Vikings are still without quarterback Sam Bradford, who recent reports have missing at least this week going forward after a non-contact knee injury in a Week 1 win over New Orleans.
In Bradford’s place this past Sunday Case Keenum put up a mediocre performance, going 20-of-37 and completing 54 percent of his passes. Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer believes he still has a decent football team in front of him, but plenty of work lies ahead. The Vikes will be put to the test at home this Sunday against a good Tampa Bay run defense, ranked No. 1 in the league and certainly feeling confident after helping steamroll the Bears last Sunday.
Needless to say, the Vikings will have to out-execute quarterback Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers. If that’s too much for Keenum to do on his own he’ll at least have to be picked up by the Vikings offensive line, which needs to do better than it did in giving up two sacks against the “Blitzburgh” defense last week.
If Bradford remains out, chalk up another loss for the Vikings. This will be another assignment that’ll be too much for a Keenum-led attack.
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