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Can't Miss Slants

Stat Time with LKP

The 2015 NFL regular season is three quarters of the way over. Let’s take a look at how the North teams did statistically in 75% of the season and compare that to the half way point.

PPG Offense (bold ¾ stats)

Green Bay 25.4 (10th) at mid-way point; now 24.1 (12th)

Minnesota 21.0 (23rd) at mid-way point, now 19.8 (28th)

Chicago 20.3 (25th) at mid-way point, now 20.9 (24th)

Detroit 18.6 (31st) at mid-way point, now 21.1 (22nd)

Green Bay has been struggling offensively three of the last four games. Green Bay has had run game issues and Aaron Rodgers has been off in a few games. Green Bay has had some major offensive line injuries but they should be back for the last quarter of the season.

The Vikings have a good rush offense with Peterson but Bridgewater is not protected and struggling in year 2. The Vikings have dropped two games the last four weeks as Peterson has been bottled up a few games and the passing game has been poor. This regression coupled with defensive injuries has led to some losses for Minnesota. They must figure out their run game again and protection for Bridgewater.

The Bears remain around the same but suffered a bad loss at home to the 49ers. Bennett is now on IR and the Bears are losing hope in the playoffs at 5-7. However, they could win it out and get in with some help.

The Lions were a mess due to poor run and pass blocking in the first eight games. However, Cooter and Stafford have saved the day with the Lions offense. The offense has shown signs of life with better protection and run game in the most of the past four weeks. Stafford has been pretty incredible with 9 TDs and 1 interception the last four games. The Lions have turned the ball over twice in four games and not surprisingly boast a 3-1 record in those games.

Quarterback Play (bold is ¾ stats)

Rodgers 108.2 rating (5th), 163/252 64.7% 1,937 yards 7.69 YPA 19 TDs 3 ints

Rodgers 97.3 rating (8th), 260/426 61.0%, 2157 yards, 6.94 YPA 26 TDs and 5 ints

Cutler 89.6 rating (17th) 155/247 62.8% 1,787 yards 7.24 YPA 10 TDs 5 ints

Cutler 90.1 rating (19th) 229/365 62.7% 2,712, 7.43 YPA 14 TDs and 7 ints

Stafford 84.1 rating (20th) 193/299 64.5% 2,083 yards 6.97 YPA 13 TDs 11 ints

Stafford 91.1 rating (18th) 228/445 64.9% 3,164 yards, 7.1 YPA 22 TDs and 12 ints

Bridgewater 83.4 rating (22nd) 149/232 64.2% 1,670 yards 7.20 YPA 6 TDs and 6 ints

Bridgewater 83.3 rating (28th) 225/347 64.8% 2,398 yards, 6.91 YPA 8 TDS and 8 ints

Rodgers is still a top QB in the league but has struggled the last few games. His weapon, run game problems and protection have been an issue. Rodgers is 2nd in the league in bad pass percentage which may have resulted in the dip in completion percentage. The return of Montgomery and Quarless could help him.

Cutler has stayed the course at around 90 QB rating but it hasn’t been enough for the Bears gong 2-2 with some poor offense. They need one or two more plays from Cutler each game.

Stafford has been amazing since the bye. He has improved his completion percentage, YPA, TDS and only has one interception (which was Lance Moore’s fault). This is what the Lions envisioned with Stafford in this offense. It took a Cooter to get us there.

Bridgewater is a game manager and without a run game or protection or defense, he struggles and the Vikings lose.

Rushing Offense

GB 4.4 YPC 11th at midway point, 4.3 YPC (9th)

Min 4.4 YPC 11th at midway point: 4.7 YPC (4th)

Chi 3.9 YPC at midway point, 3.8 YPC (25th)

Detroit 3.7 YPC 27th at midway point, 3.5 YPC (30th)

Minnesota has a top 5 rushing offense. Peterson has only struggled in a few games. When he does they lose. The Packers have dropped some with Lacy’s injury and oline issues.

Chicago is struggling and is below average in running the ball. Detroit has shown a few more flashes in the run game but still have a very poor YPC. Bell is awful but Abdullah is finally showing potential and has no fumbles the last six games.

Sacks and QB Hits Allowed (bold ¾)

19 sacks and 44 hits for Rodgers, 29 sacks and 74 hits

22 sacks and 60 hits for Stafford, 31 sacks and 75 hits

14 sacks and 40 hits for Cutler/Clausen, 20 sacks and 57 hits

21 sacks and 45 hits for Bridgewater, 35 sacks and 74 hits

The Vikings have the worst offensive line. Detroit’s offensive line has been improved since the mid-way point but still give up a good number of sacks. Rodgers has been sacked 10 times and hit 30 times in the last four games. Cutler is solidly protected but with room for improvement.

Turnovers Allowed

Green Bay 6 to 9

Minnesota 9 to 12

Chicago 10 to 15

Detroit 20 to 22

Detroit has doubled the turnovers of every other North team and not surprisingly, Detroit started 1-7 record. The turnovers hurt Detroit’s defense and take away scoring chances. Detroit has improved drastically under Cooter with only 2 turnovers in four games. The 3-1 record is not surprising with little turnovers. Green Bay and the Vikings only have 3 turnovers in the last 4 games. Chicago had 5. Turnovers aren’t high for any of the North teams recently.

PPG Defense

Minnesota 17.5 PPG (2nd), 19.3 PPG (4th)

Green Bay 20.9 PPG (12th), 19.8 PPG (6th)

Chicago 27.6 PPG (27th), 24.2 PPG (18th)

Detroit 30.6 PPG (32nd), 26.3 PPG (28th)

The Vikings defense dropped some after tough losses to Green Bay and Seattle at home where they gave up 30 or more points. The Vikings have some big defensive injuries with Joseph, Barr and Harrison Smith. The defense must rebound if they want to win the division.

The Packers, Bears and Lions defenses have all improved in the last four games. Green Bay’s defense is keeping them in games and Chicago and Detroit are getting much needed defensive support.

Rush Defense

Lions 4.4 YPC (22nd), 3.9 YPC

Vikings 4.4 YPC (22nd), 4.4 YPC

Green Bay 4.5 YPC (25th), 4.2 YPC

Chicago 4.6 YPC (27th), 4.8 YPC

Detroit can stop the run. Eight of their 12 games have been excellent in run defense. Green Bay has improved greatly in stopping the run but still rank below average. The Vikings and Bears have trouble stopping the run.

Pass Defense

Green Bay 79 rating (5th) 57.7%, 7.6 YPA 10 TDs and 10 ints

Green Bay 84.2 rating (10th), 59.8 %, 7.3 YPA 16 TDs and 11 ints

Minnesota 82.7 rating (13th), 62.5%, 6.9 YPA 9 TDs and 4 ints

Minnesota 90 QB rating (15th), 63.3%, 7.1 YPA 17 TDs and 8 ints

Chicago 101. Rating (27th), 63.4%, 7.3 YPA, 17 TDs and 4 ints

Chicago 92.7 rating (19th), 60.6% 6.9 YPA, 21 TDs and 6 ints

Detroit 111 rating (31st), 73.1%, 8.7 YPA, 14 TDs and 4 ints

Detroit 103.1, 68.6%, 7.9 YPA, 20 TDs and 5 ints

Green Bay is tough to throw against with a healthy Sam Shields. However if you do complete the pass against the Packers you will get good yardage. Green Bay’s pass defense took a dip in the last four games. The Vikings keep everything in front of them with a low YPA and decent completion percentage allowed. The Vikings had slight regression in the last four games and need Harrison Smith back.

Chicago improved a good amount in the last four games against the pass. They give up a high number of TDs is their biggest issue.

Detroit is much improved in the last four games with better LB and switching Isa Abdul Quddus from James Ihedigbo. Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs have played excellent for the injured Rashean Mathis and Josh Wilson. The Lions might have a future with Quddus, Lawson and Diggs. Slay has been a shutdown corner since Week 4 and is ranked 4th best per PFF. Quin is still a good free safety and has 3 interceptions on the season.

The Packers are the only threat to force an interception with 11. The Vikings have four in the last four games though.

Turnovers Forced

Green Bay 12 (10 ints, 2 fumbles), 15 (11 ints and 4 fumbles)

Detroit 11 (7 fumbles, 4 ints), 13 (5 ints and 8 fumbles)

Minnesota 9 (4 ints, 5 fumbles), 15 (8 ints and 7 fumbles)

Chicago 9 (4 ints, 5 fumbles), 13 (6 ints and 7 fumbles)

All the North teams force below average amount of turnovers.

Record

Vikings 6-2, 8-4

Green Bay 6-2, 8-4

Chicago 3-5, 5-7

Detroit 1-7, 4-8

The Final Stretch

Packers: Dallas home, at Cardinals, at Raiders and home Vikings

Vikings: at Cardinals, home Bears, home Giants and at Packers

Bears: home Redskins, at Vikings, at Tampa Bay, home Lions

Lions: at Rams, at Saints, home 49ers, at Bears

Green Bay’s is expected to succeed with Rodgers at the helm and some major defensive improvement. However, Green Bay has had trouble with tough teams on the road despite a 6-0 start. The Packers went 2-2 in the last four games beating the Vikings on the road and losing to Detroit and Chicago at home. Green Bay got an extremely lucky win on a poorly defended hail-Mary and phantom face mask call at Detroit. Green Bay should make the playoffs and should win the division despite the same record as Minnesota.

The Vikings 6-2 start was strong with Peterson, efficient Bridgwater and good defense. The Vikings have gone 2-2 in the last four and have defensive injuries to worry about and very poor protection. If Peterson doesn’t have a good game, they lose. Minnesota has to win one or two more games to make the playoffs and can win the division but must win in Lambeau. Though winning in Lambeau doesn’t seem to be a problem this year. Just ask Chicago and Detroit.

The Bears and Lions both played a tough first half schedule. The Bears were able to beat the AFC West teams (Raiders, Chiefs, Chargers) though for 3 wins but lost to the Lions in Detroit, at Seattle without Cutler, home to the Cardinals, home to Green Bay. Chicago has gone 2-2 since the mid-way point beating the Packers in Lambeau but losing to the lowly 49ers at home. Chicago crushed the Rams but lost a close game at home to the Broncos.

The Lions were only able to beat the Bears and get screwed by the refs in Seattle in the first half of the season. Detroit blew an 18 point lead at San Diego and lost to Peyton Manning jump balls and turnovers on Sunday Night in Week 3. Detroit was embarrassed by the Cardinals and Chiefs and swept by the Vikings leading to offensive coaches and the GM/President getting fired during the bye.

Since that debacle, Detroit has rebounded nicely with 3 straight wins and a true win against Green Bay (despite a loss). The Lions moved to 4-8 on the season have a very long shot for the playoffs. The Seahawks must lose 3 games and the Falcons/Bucs must go 2-2. Detroit must stay hot and finish 4-0 but play three of four games on the road to end the season. However, all four teams are below .500.

The division battle between the Vikings and Packers starts tonight with the Vikings at the Cardinals. The loser of that battle probably gets a wild card. The Lions and Bears must win out and pray for a wild card spot in the final four games. It’s been a fun season so far despite all my pain and misery for 8 of the 12 weeks. Now it gets fun in December and the playoffs.