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Week 5 NFC North Previews

Week 5 of the NFL season is upon us and it should be another big week for the NFC North. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

Panthers at Lions 1 PM ET FOX

Detroit (3-1) hosts the Carolina Panther (3-1) in another big NFC matchup. Stafford brings his 95.9 rating back to Ford Field despite a down game under pressure against the Vikings. Marvin Jones and Golden Tate must get open way more than they did against Minnesota. The Panthers allow a 96.8 QB rating and their young secondary can be beaten if Stafford has time.

The Panthers front 7 is a force though with Julius Pepper (4.5 sacks), Mario Addison (2 sacks), Charles Johnson at defensive end. Kawan Short, Star Lotuleilei and Vernon Butler bring a rush from the DT spot. The Lions offensive line will have to play a really good game to stop the Panthers fierce pass rush.

Detroit will have tough matchups on the second level as well. Ebron, Fells, Riddick and Abdullah will face Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson at LB. Detroit must figure out how to find space and get YAC against these strong coverage and tackle linebackers.

The Panthers back end is young with James Bradberry and Daryl Worley; but both have talent. Captain Munnerlyn is back and a good slot corner to face Tate. Mike Adams is a veteran safety but the Panthers lost Kurt Coleman to injury. Jarius Byrd was signed this week by Carolina and should split time with Colin Jones. The Lions must get separation and be able to put up points. This game may come down to short fields once again from Lions turnovers forced (11 this year in 4 games).

Carolina’s defense gave up 3 points each in Week 1 and 2 (49ers and Bills) but over 30 points in the last two weeks (Saints and Patriots offenses). The Panthers have been really good or really poor. Detroit has the firepower to give them a 3rd poor outing in a row.

Carolina’s offense has also been up and down. Cam Newton has only an 85.5 rating but still runs well. Jonathan Stewart is capable of a good day with blocking but rookie Christian McCaffery has struggled (2.9 YPC) running but has been a good receiver. Carolinas has turned the ball over 7 times which will be a key with Detroit’s turnover forcing defense.

Kelvin Benjamin versus Darius Slay will be the big matchup of the game. If Slay wins, the Panthers offense could struggle. Devin Funchess is capable with over 200 yards and 2 TDs so far this season. Greg Olsen is hurt which helps the Lions. McCaffery is still receiving threat as well as rookie Curtis Samuel. Detroit must continue playing good defense and forcing turnovers.

Detroit is strong at home and has plenty of weapons. Stafford is protected just enough and the Lions win a close game 23-20.

Packers at Cowboys 4:25 PM ET FOX

This is a big rematch of the divisional round game last year when the Packers held on to beat the Cowboys in a shoot-out. The Cowboys are 2-2 with losses to the Rams and Broncos. Dallas still has plenty of offensive firepower with Elliot running the ball and Bryant, Williams, Beasley and Witten catching passes from Dak Prescott. Dallas still has a very strong offensive line and can handle the Packers pass rush. Tyron Smith has been dealing with a back injury to monitor for this game. Dallas must put up points because the Packers can usually score in bunches. Clay Matthews against Tyron Smith and Nick Perry against La’el Collins are big matchups. Mike Daniels should return for the Packers to boost their rush. Martin and Frederick lead the way in the interior and should shut down Daniels, Clark and Lowry. Daniels has been limited in practice but could return this week.

The Packers have given up 20.5 PPG but played poorly in their lone road game at Atlanta. The Cowboys offense (23.5 PPG) has the talent to score close to 30 points or more in this game.

The Packers have Aaron Rodgers with a 100.7 rating through 4 games. Rodgers has thrown for 10 TDs and 3 interceptions this season. Davante Adams (219 yards and 2 TDs), Jordy Nelson (5 TDs) and Randall Cobb are big time threats to the Cowboys new young secondary. Adams may not play though after being speared by Danny Trevathan late last week. Martellus Bennett has started slow but could break out for the Packers against the Cowboys linebackers. The Cowboys have allowed a 96.5 rating and can be picked apart by Rodgers.

The Packers run game took a hit with Ty Montgomery broken ribs. Montgomery may play if he feels he can go and they can protect his ribs. He will have to tough it out though. Green Bay must establish a run game with their rookies to keep the Cowboys off-balance in Week 5. Dallas allows 4.2 YPC so the Packers could have success on the ground. LB Sean Lee missed last week which would be a big blow to the Cowboys if he can’t play against the Packers. Green Bay hopes to get David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga back at tackle this week as they have been limited in practice. That will be a huge boost to the Green Bay offense and protection for Rodgers.

This is a tough game to call but the Cowboys get some revenge picking on the Packers defense. Dallas wins a shootout 33-30.

Vikings at Bears 8:30 PM ET Monday Night Football

The Mitch Trubisky era begins in Chicago as Mike Glennon was awful in four games and benched. Trubisky has a tough task in his first game facing a menacing Vikings defense. Everson Griffen has 5 sacks and brings consistent rush facing Charles Leno Jr. Danielle Hunter is a beast on the other side facing Bobbie Massie. Linval Joseph can wreck the game in the middle but the Bears have a strong interior with Sitton, Whitehair and Long. If Trubisky is under pressure, he might have a poor first game.

Xavier Rhodes is a shutdown corner and the Bears top two WRS are done for the season. Deonte Thompson, Kendall Wright and Josh Bellamy must perform some miracles to get open. Zach Miller is a solid tight end and Tarik Cohen is a receiving running back threat. Jordan Howard must have a good game for the Bears running the ball to give Chicago a chance. Vikings have a good run defense but allowed 4.7 YPC to Ameer Abdullah last week.

The Bears defense is hurting with Quentin Demps and Jerrell Freeman out. Danny Trevathan received a one game suspension for spearing Davante Adams. This should benefit the Vikings. Minnesota has two good offensive days and two poor ones so far. The Vikings offense will once again depend on the health of Sam Bradford’s knee. If Keenum starts, the Bears have a shot in the game.

Dalvin Cook tore his ACL and now the Vikings must find a running game with Latavius Murray and Jerrick McKinnon. The Bears have been stout against the run and could make the Vikings one dimensional. Stefon Diggs is having a great season along with Adam Thielen. Kyle Rudolph could exploit the Bears backup ILBs too. Minnesota has plenty of firepower to outscore the Bears.

Minnesota should make life hard for Trubisky and force some turnovers. The Vikings offense will do enough and win on the road. Minnesota wins 20-10.