Week 3 NFC North Pre-Season Recap

NFC North
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The dress rehearsal pre-season games are in the books. The NFC North had some ups and downs to say the least during Week 3 of the pre-season.

Detroit at Jacksonville

The Lions played without their defensive line and DeAndre Levy. Blake Bortles took advantage of the time to throw and carved up the Lions on three long drives for 14 points. Bortles had four rushes for 38 yards with some first downs to extend drives. The third Jaguars drive fizzled in the redzone from good coverage and Jacksonville turned the ball over on downs.

Bortles focused on the middle of the field hitting TEs and backs to beat Detroit’s linebackers all day. Tulloch had an off day in coverage and Travis Lewis struggled too. Lewis got the start over Tahir Whitehead which was surprising. Glover Quin surprisingly played poorly on Friday night.

Mathis got beat for a TD to Allen Hurns for 13 yards on the first drive. The Lions need to get their coverage in the middle shored up and rush the passer better much better to avoid getting beaten like a drum. The return of Ansah, Ngata, Jason Jones and Levy should make this happen. Defensive Tackle Tyrunn Walker was a bright spot with 4 hurries and strong run defense. Darius Slay had good coverage all day as well. Walker should start next to Ngata. Reid will be the top reserve defensive tackle.

On another bright note for the defense, the Lions run defense looked good even with a backup front 7. Detroit stuffed the Jaguars starters and appeared to stuff rookie TJ Yeldon for a fumble on the goal line caused by a massive hit by Stephen Tulloch/Travis Lewis in mid-air. The referees called a TD in error but Yeldon did not cross the goal line and lost the fumble. The referees also called a bogus roughing penalty on James Ihedigbo tackling a non-sliding Bortles on a 12 yard run. Finally, a bogus PI on Rashean Mathis was called despite no contact. The second Jaguars TD drive was full of referee errors. It seems the referees still have some kinks to work out this pre-season. And yes, I’m complaining about the refs in the pre-season.

The Lions offense looked explosive in Week 3 playing without Calvin Johnson and Eric Ebron. Stafford threw a dart to Golden Tate for a 62 yard TD on the 3rd Lions’ drive. On the second Lions’ TD drive, Zach Zenner had a 41 yard run on 3rd and 1 to go and cemented his status on the roster. Abdullah nabbed a 21 yard screen play with a nice block in the second level from rookie Laken Tomlinson to get inside the five yard line. Pettigrew caught a 20 yard pass down the seam to open the drive to make up for an earlier drop. Corey Fuller caught a 4 yard slant for the TD to cap off the drive. The only sour note was Prater missing the extra point.

The Jaguars led 14-13 at half time with a true score of 13-7 Lions. It was a decent showing for Detroit but they need more health for the regular season on defense. Stafford has a 150 QB rating for the pre-season. Hope that rating continues into the regular season against better teams.

Chicago at Cincinnati

The Bears looked terrible. This was expected on offense missing their top 4 WRS. Bears cut Tim Jennings after the game and lost safety Ryan Mundy to IR. The Bengals offense moved the ball with ease against the Bears and built a 21-3 lead by half time.

The Bengals had a 16 play 77 yard drive to open the scoring. Dalton was 6/6 for 52 yards. Dalton had a few runs for a first down and hit Rex Burkhead for two big first downs on the drive. Jeremy Hill ran strong on the day at 4.2 YPC with a TD. AJ McCarron led the second TD drive with a 31 yard TD to Marvin Jones. The third drive Jeremy Hill had a 26 yard run and McCarron hit tight end Tyler Eifert for 25 yards to get into the redzone. Jeremy Hill capped the drive with a one yard TD run.

Cutler was 13/17 but only had 5.8 YPA. Cutler was sacked twice by the Bengals pressure. Cutler made the most out of missing all his WRs with one field goal drive in five chances. Forte had only 2.7 YPC. The Bears couldn’t move the ball more than a few first downs on the first four drives. The Bears had a field goal drive on their 5th drive but the Bengals had pulled some starters. Chicago has some problems to fix and need some WR health. Rookie first round pick, Kevin White, is on PUP officially so it will be up to Alshon Jeffrey, Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson to get healthy.

Philadelphia at Green Bay

Philadelphia bolted to a 25-0 lead over Green Bay. The Eagles had 67 yard kick off to start the game. Murray had two first down runs and Bradford hit Sproles for an 8 yard TD pass. The Eagles tried for two points and failed with Tebow up the middle. The Packers went 3 and out and the Eagles drove 55 yards for their second TD. Bradford completed to Jordan Matthews for two big first downs and hit TE Tim Burton for a 4th and goal 3 yard TD. The two point conversion failed with Tebow again. Rookie Brett Hundley threw a pick 6 on the next drive to Walter Thurmond. It was 18-0 very quickly. The Eagles missed the PAT.

The Packers responded with an impressive 52 yard slant to rookie Ty Montgomery. The drive stalled with a stuff of Eddie Lacy on 3rd down after three plays. Mason Crosby missed the field goal. The Eagles took advantage with a 33 yard pass to Sproles and a 17 yard first down to Jordan Matthews. Finally, Bradford found Celek for a 7 yard TD. 25-0. Boombaya.

The Packers mounted some offense with a big play to Starks on a screen and 29 yard pass to Jeff Janis from Hundley. A defensive PI on Kendricks set up a first and goal for Green Bay. Starks ran it in from one yard out. The Packers finally looked alive and scored a second TD before half time. However, Mark Sanchez led two Eagles’ TD drives before half for a 39-14 half time Eagles’ lead. Double Boombaya.

Minnesota at Dallas

Tony Romo threw two touchdowns Saturday night to build a 14-10 lead on the Vikings. Romo hit Terrence Williams for a 60 yard TD. Romo used skill and not luck and found Lucky Whitehead for an 8 yard TD. This TD was set up after a 40 yard punt return by Cole Beasley. The Vikings defense got some good pressure and made some stops but ultimately gave up 14 points on a big play and short field from a punt return.

Bridgewater was sharp marching the Vikings down the field for an early first quarter field goal after a failed four play first drive. Bridgewater completed to Wallace for 4 yard and 39 yard first downs to set up the field goal by Walsh. The drive stalled on a 3rd down sack by rookie Randy Gregory of Bridgewater. Bridgewater only played two drives and went 7/7 for 78 yards on the night.

Cordarelle Paterson had a kick-off return for a TD to set up the Vikings lone first half TD. Patterson looked explosive but appeared to be aided by a missed block in the back.

One more pre-season game remains for all teams. Most will rest many of their starters in the 4th week. The regular season is so close I can taste it.