The NFC North continues their trek deep into the worthless pre-season. The Packers travel to Pittsburgh so Lacy can gorge himself on Primanti Brothers. The Bears visit the Colts to test their “Luck”. The Lions head to the land of LKP to strut their stuff against the Washington Racial Slurs. The Vikings host the Raiders for the Vikings’ 3rd preseason game during the one day of the year Minneapolis is above 32 degrees.
What to Watch
Green Bay at Pittsburgh 1 PM Sunday NFL Network
Pittsburgh has a potent offense and this game will be the Steelers’ third of the pre-season game after playing in the Hall of Fame game. Green Bay should get a good dose of the Steelers starters on Sunday. Green Bay’s defense will get a nice test even if the Steelers don’t play Le’Veon Bell at running back. Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavius Bryant, rookie Sammie Coates and Heath Miller is a nice set of weapons for Green Bay’s coverage to try and stop.
Green Bay’s offense moved the ball against New England but had trouble punching it in the end zone and converting 4th downs. The Steeler’s new young defense should provide a decent test with plenty of OLBS to pass rush plus Cameron Heyward at DE. The Steelers secondary has some concerns with William Gay and Cortez Allen as the starters at CB and Will Allen and Mike Mitchell at safety. Rodgers and his weapons should have a big early day if the Steelers don’t get good pressure.
Detroit at Washington 7:30 PM Thursday
Ameer Abdullah needs to follow up a great performance in his first pre-season outing after 7 carries for 67 yards against the Jets. The Lions offense scored a TD on their only drive with Stafford against New York. Detroit will want to keep that momentum going in year 2 of the Lombardi offense and Calvin Johnson could play. The play of Eric Ebron, Lance Moore and the revamped offensive line are the players to watch. The Redskins added some defensive line firepower in free agency with Terrence Knighton and Steven Paea to pair with DE Jason Hatcher. Ryan Kerrigan is also a good pass rusher from the OLB spot. The Redskins have secondary issues but did add Chris Culliver and Dashon Goldson at corner and safety. Detroit should move the ball well and score.
The Lions will be sorting out their return man, third WR, starting DT opposite Ngata and nickel CB battle during this game. Ngata, Jones, Bell and Waddle all remain out.
The Redskins are average at best on offense and DeSean Jackson is out for Washington after a run with a tough blocking sled. The Lions defense even without Ngata and Jones should win the battle. Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed are decent threats. Alfred Morris can run the ball. RG3 says he is the best QB in football. We’ll see if that is on display Thursday night.
Chicago at Indianapolis 7:30 PM Saturday
The Bears continue to learn their new schemes on offense and defense. Chicago’s offense had some trouble against Miami’s revamped dirty defense. The rookie 1st round pick Kevin White could miss the entire season. Alshon Jeffery is banged up. The Bears need this precious time to practice against real competition. The Colts are a good team but mainly on offense. Cutler needs to have some success.
The Colts are loaded with weapons for Luck. Chicago’s defense under Vic Fangio will have its work cut out for them after a bad performance against Miami.
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Oakland at Minnesota 8:00 PM Saturday
This is pre-season game 3 for the Vikings due to the HOF game. The Vikings may play most of their starters for an entire half but won’t use Peterson quite yet.
The Vikings lost Phil Loadholdt last week to a torn achilles. The play of rookie right tackle TJ Clemmings will be scrutinized to replace the veteran right tackle. Bridgewater building chemistry with Mike Wallace, Charles Johnson, Jarius Wright and Kyle Rudolph will be the key for the Vikings. The Raiders don’t have a good back 7 other than Khalil Mack. Bridgewater better shine on Saturday.
The Vikings defense gets a boost with the return of second year LB Anthony Barr. The Vikings defense should dominate the Raiders terrible offense. Derek Carr and rookie Amari Cooper aren’t enough and the Raiders have protection issues. The Vikings starters should dominate and play most of the first half. Latavius Murray is a decent back to test the Vikings run defense though. These teams play each other in the regular season so they may not show very much. Minnesota could wait until next week at Dallas to truly game plan for a pre-season opponent.