The second half of the season begins for all NFC North teams in Week 10. The Vikings lead by 2 games over the Lions and Packers. Let’s take a look at the Week 10 matchups.
Packers at Bears
Green Bay (4-4) has lost three games in a row without Aaron Rodgers. They must try to salvage their season and get a road win in Chicago at Soldier Field (Da Man Hole). The Bears are 3-5 and return from a bye week after a tough road loss to the Saints (6-2).
Chicago has a good run game with Jordan Howard (4.1 YPC and 662 yards) and Tarik Cohen (4.2 YPC) and solid defense to handle Hundley. Green Bay runs the ball well too (3rd best YPC in league at 4.5 YPC) but the passing game has taken a nose dive with Hundley (58.1 QB rating) at the helm.
Rookie QB Mitch Trubisky (66.3 rating) has struggled this season but made a few plays to help Chicago win a couple games. Chicago has lived off defensive turnovers and scores to win games lately and could get some more with pressure on Hundley.
Leonard Floyd (4 sacks), Akiem Hicks (7 sacks) and Pernell McPhee (4 sacks) are all good pass rushers to hound the Packers signal caller. Bryan Bulaga tore his ACL and will be on IR so the Packers may have some right side protection problems as well with 4th string RT Justin McCray. Aaron Jones has been strong and Ty Montgomery showed signs of life against the Lions. The Bears allow only 3.9 YPC and may be tough to run against on Sunday. Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams beating Kyle Fuller, Marcus Cooper, Bryce Callahan and Prince Amukamara will be the key to this game. They must win their matchups and help Hundley.
The Packers defense had major problems against the Lions and Saints recently and will be missing Morgan Burnett this week. Chicago doesn’t have much offense but could have a decent day if Green Bay doesn’t pressure Trubisky consistently or stop the run from Howard and Cohen.
The winner stays in the race but the loser goes to the North basement. Green Bay needs this win to keep hope alive until Aaron returns. Chicago has a two quality wins with good defense against Steelers and Panthers. Chicago squeaks this one out. 17-16
Vikings at Redskins
The Vikings (6-2) are red hot coming off a bye after a London win but start the tough part of their schedule with four games out of five games. Minnesota travels to Washington to play the Redskins (4-4). Minnesota has an excellent defense ranked 3rd in the league and showed improvement on offense despite Case Keenum (88.8 rating) as the starter. Teddy Bridgewater is back but may not play until next week against the Rams.
Jerrick McKinnon instilled some run game life with 4.2 YPC. Murray has struggled but had one good game. The Vikings must establish the run on Washington on the road. The Skins allow 4.2 YPC and Minnesota could have some success. Rookie first round pick Jonathan Allen is on IR at DE which hurts the Redskins as well.
Kirk Cousins is having a good year in another franchise year with a 102 rating with 13 TDs and 4 interceptions. The Vikings pass coverage (81.2 rating) is very strong so this will be a great strength versus strength matchup.
Washington is dealing with injuries to Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed but Vernon Davis has filled in well. Chris Thompson is actually Washington’s leading receiver as a running back with 453 yards and 3 TDs. Vernon Davis is second for Washington with 384 yards and 1 TD. We’ll see if Crowder, free agent addition Terrell Pryor or speedy Josh Doctson can produce against Minnesota’s coverage.
The Redskins have some run game issues but Thompson has 4.9 YPC on 51 carries. Rob Kelley only notched 3.2 YPC but improved lately and Perine 3.1 YPC has had rookie issues. Minnesota is stout in run defense (3.5 YPC) and should shut down the Redskins rushing attack. If Washington becomes one dimensional, Minnesota can unleash the pass rushers.
Everson Griffen has 10 sacks and Trent Williams has had some injuries. The Vikings duo of Griffen or Hunter could feast if Washington plays any backup tackle for Williams or Moses.
Washington has been strong in coverage with an 85.3 rating allow with 8 interceptions on the year. Case Keenum has Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph but Washington has the skill to cover them. Josh Norman is back and can lock down Diggs or Thielen. Brashaud Breeland will have a tough assignment against Thielen and the Redskins safeties struggle in coverage. DeAngelo Hall has returned from injury to help Washington.
Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith provide some pressure from OLB for Washington. Zach Brown revived his career at ILB too for the Redskins but their defensive line doesn’t offer much pass rush with Allen out.
Minnesota has the advantages in this game with their defense and injuries to the Redskins. Turnovers will be a key for Minnesota to try and get a big road win.
Minnesota wins on the road 23-21 and keeps their two game North lead.
Browns at Lions 1 PM
Detroit (4-4) is coming off a big win at Lambeau Field and must avoid a trap game against the winless Cleveland Browns (0-8). The Lions must play better at home than they have and take advantage of a weaker opponent with a poor QB in Dashone Kizer (51.1 rating). Detroit is 3rd in the league forcing 16 turnovers and they must force Kizer into more mistakes.
The Browns weapons are terrible and Corey Coleman and Josh Gordon won’t be playing this game. Duke Johnson is a receiving RB threat and Ricardo Louis is the Browns top threat. Rookie David Njoku made some decent plays and has three TDs on the season. Detroit has the advantage in coverage but can’t relax too much on these weapons. Detroit must find a way to finally generate consistent pressure.
The Browns are coming off a bye and get stud DE Myles Garret (4 sacks) back. Taylor Decker might return but it could be 3rd string LT Brian Mihalik again for the Lions. Mihalik played solid on Monday night but Garrett is a tough test and having a good rookie year as the top overall pick. TJ Lang is in concussion protocol which could hurt the Stafford’s protection. Matt has been great since the bye and should be able to torch the Browns secondary with proper protection.
Cleveland is solid running the ball with Isiah Crowell and Duke Johnson but the Lions are stout in run defense at 3.7 YPC. Cleveland is good in run defense too allowing only 2.9 YPC for best in the league. The Lions really struggle running the ball but they must do enough to keep the Browns defense honest in this game. Abdullah must fix his fumble woes that reared its ugly head on Monday night.
Cleveland lacks consistent pressure but they have some young talent with Garrett, Emmanuel Ogbah, Carl Nassib and Jamie Collins. Detroit must continue their strong pass protection from the past two weeks.
Jason McCourty and Brein Boddy-Calhoun have played well at CB but the Browns struggle in LB and safety coverage including rookie Jabrill Peppers. Ebron/Fells, Theo Riddick and Golden Tate in the slot could have big days. Marvin Jones had a nice first half of the year and torched the Packers again. We will see if Jones beats Calhoun and McCourty deep. Calhoun is dealing with a hamstring injury as well. TJ Jones has done well as the Lions 3rd WR in Kenny Golladay’s absence. Look for TJ to have a couple big first downs in this game.
The Lions pass rush has struggled the last four weeks and needs some life this week. The Browns lost Joe Thomas for the year so Ansah could feast. However, Ansah is dealing with a knee and back injury too which has slowed him.
Anthony Zettel has 5 sacks and Cornelius Washington must finally make some big plays for the Lions at left end against Shon Coleman. Jacques Smith didn’t do much in his first game on Monday but could beat new LT Spencer Drango.
A’Shawn Robinison, Akeem Spence and Jeremiah Ledbetter have a decent test with Bitonio, JC Tretter and Kevin Zeitler in the Browns interior. They must be stout in run D and show power and quick first step to rattle Kizer from the interior.
The Lions are at home but 1-3 at Ford Field this year while 3-1 on the road. Detroit must play like they did on Monday night only with more pressure and better run game. Matt Stafford should have a big day for the third game in a row and the Lions should cruise to a win as long as they avoid turnovers.
Detroit 35 Cleveland 17
Week 10 will start to sort out the North teams. Enjoy the games.