NFC North: Injured Lions Should Be Wary of Early Season Swoon

Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR

As the Detroit Lions try to rebound this Sunday in Week 6 after a loss to Carolina, they will look to re-focus on Drew Brees and the Saints in a trip to New Orleans.

With quarterback Matt Stafford being a notable feature on the Lions injury report (ankle), his status is questionable, but he’s still expected to suit up and play. As for the rest of the team, Detroit has 10 listed on the injury report including three starters on offense and three on defense.

Previously I’ve set up the Lions as the top competitors to defending champions Green Bay in the NFC North. In order to uphold such praise Detroit will need to finish strong through October, which features a clash with the Pittsburgh Steelers after they take their bye week following the outcome of the New Orleans game.

News has not been good of late on the defensive side for the Lions and it got as bad as it could get earlier this week. Standout tackle Haloti Ngata was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn biceps during the game against Carolina. 

Ngata contributed two sacks this season to a decent pass rush which currently ranks 12th in the NFL, the former Baltimore Ravens mainstay was a big pickup in 2015 but today his days with the Lions appear to be numbered.

With a loss like Ngata’s to deal with it looks once again as if the Lions have a lot of doubt hovering over their team and their latest quest to capture the NFC North.

Oddsshark has the Lions as three-point underdogs entering New Orleans. Considering Stafford’s road record, they’re most likely looking at another loss and could be desperately looking for some answers going into their bye week.

Minnesota Meeting Lean, Mean Pack 

Since getting beat down in Atlanta back in Week 2, the Green Bay Packers have played some of the best football in the NFL. Not that things got too tight, but either way with Aaron Rodgers leading them, the Pack know how to R-E-L-A-X.

The most impressive of Green Bay’s recent three wins in a row was decided with a little over a minute last week at the Dallas Cowboys. Ending with a perfect strike to Devonte Adams, Rodgers reminded everybody why he’s still the most lethal guy at quarterback the league has ever seen.

Rodgers finished up the day passing for 221 yards with three TD’s and no interceptions while the Cowboys turned the ball over three times. The Packers were able to win the turnover ratio with a +2 ratio.

As for the Vikings quarterback situation, things seem to be a little lost in the scuffle. Sam Bradford has had only one good game all season, the home victory opener against the Saints, and since has had severe knee soreness that kept him out most of the action. Bradford tried returning this past Monday Night against the Chicago Bears in Soldier Field, but had to leave early after hobbling through the night and barely surviving Chicago’s outside rush.

Punctuating the embarrassing outing for Bradford was his being sacked in the end zone late in the first quarter for a safety earned by the Bears, one of four sacks he suffered through in less than one half of play.

In relief, Case Keenum was able to keep the game in the Vikings’ hands but more encouraging than that is the impeding return of Teddy Bridgewater. Incredibly, 15 months later after suffering a left knee injury which was reported to level one trauma in fear that he could lose part of his leg, Bridgewater was standing tall on the sideline in Chicago, looking as ready as ever to get back in the mix.

According to ESPN NFL writer Kevin Seifert, Bridgewater can be eligible to return and practice with the 53-man roster, which would not count against the league’s requirements from the beginning of the season. First things first, he must be cleared medically after he gets an updated status on Monday because as of right now, he’s still on the reserve/physically unable to perform list (PUP).

The Packers have got to be smelling blood entering this week. Rodgers has a career record of 12-6 against the Vikings,  including a 5-4 record in Minnesota. This season the Packers are ranked tops in red zone scoring, averaging 6.16 points a game. 

If there’s one final factor that can be a difference in this matchup is that the Packers are ranked sixth in INT’s for TD’s and fifth in fumbles recovered for TD’s. The only concern for the Packers is that they’ve had three men on defense reported on the injury report.

Morgan Burnett is most notable on this list and he’s officially out for this contest with a hamstring injury, he has been one of the communicators on defense alternating between the safety, linebacker and slot corner posirions.

As for the Vikings, they will be without most notably Bradford and explosive receiver Stefon Diggs. They also have a couple questionable starters including safety Andrew Sandejo.

If the Vikings are to have any hope, it will be to depend on their noisy stadium to make things uncomfortable for the superior road team. Still, the Packers should pull this one out, 27-17.

Follow Charles at his personal blog and on Twitter @ProdigyRichey; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio

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