Last season, the NFC North was pretty lopsided. The Chicago Bears finished the season at 13-3, and the closest team to them were the Green Bay Packers at 8-8. The Bears 5-1 in the division. Green Bay finished the year on a four game winning streak and were in playoff contention until Week 17. Of course, the Bears went on to lose in the Super Bowl to the Colts.
This season, the NFC North looked to be going to Chicago from the get go. It was practically handed to them before a snap was ever made. The Bears came in with a few losses and a few new faces. There was still one name that still was on the roster, at that was Rex Grossman. We all know how up and down Rex was in 2006. The Bears still stuck with him, and are continuing to do so. The Packers came in on the season with hopes that they could get over the .500 mark. Favre was STILL at the helm, and he no longer had a proven man in the backfield. The Packers were looking at a 2nd or 3rd finish in the NFC North in most people's eyes.
Week 3 will officially come to a close tonight after the Titans/Saints MNF game. The Sunday games are now in the book, and the Green Bay Packers are the team that are at the top of the division. The Bears and Packers have switched positions and records from where they were after Week 3 of 2006. The Packers are the team that is 3-0, and the Bears are at 1-2. The Lions are sitting at 2-1, while the Vikings are 1-2. I'm going to try and focus on 2006's NFC North Champion, and the team that looks to be the frontrunner to be the 2007 NFC North Champion. I'm going to focus on Green Bay and Chicago. Mainly, because I don't believe the Lions or Vikings will be over .500 by seasons end. Detroit was able to beat Oakland and Minnesota to get two wins, which to me doesn't say much. What says a lot is them being pounded by the Eagles 56-21. That is just proof to me that they are not a contender in the NFC North. Minnesota has played some of the worst teams in the NFL so far, and are sitting at 1-2. That is proof to me they won't be hanging around. So again, I'm going to focus on the Packers and Bears. So...
Leading the way for Green Bay is Brett Favre. He has looked outstanding, and looks like his old self.
Brett Favre's 2007 Numbers:
80/125, 64.4%, 861 YDS, 6 TD's, 2 INT's, and a QB Rating of: 93.5
The Packers have been fortunate to catch the Eagles when their leader, Donovan McNabb, wasn't looking 100%. He really didn't look good until that past Sunday. Then the Packers caught the Giants. We all know what kind of state that team is in. They have so many problems ranging from a lack of discipline on the field, defensive issues, and a coach that they'd like to be out the door. The Packers beat down the Giants in their own yard. The Packers just took out the San Diego Chargers, 31-24. The game had been going back and forth. Phillip Rivers had finally gotten on his game, all the while LT still struggled on the ground. The Packers were losing 21-17 with under 2 minutes left, and Favre tossed a slant to Jennings who took it to the house. That TD pass was Favre's 420th, which tied him with Dan Marino. The defense has been outstanding so far this season which has gone a long way in helping Favre and the offense. They are sitting at 3-0, with the lead in the NFC North.
The Chicago Bears have looked less than stellar this season. Offensively the Bears have only put up 23 points and havent done enough of what they say they are good at, running. They have only averaged 87 Rush YDS a game, and of course Rex Grossman is yet to put up a performance that can be seen as solid.
Rex Grossman's 2007 Numbers:
47/89, 52.6%, 500 YDS, 1 TD, 6 INT, and a QB Rating of: 45.7
The Bears defense has looked great in all of their games except Sunday nights game vs Dallas. They held LT to 25 YDS on the ground, and the Chargers to 14 points in defeat. They held LJ to 55 YDS, and the Chiefs to 10 points. Then came Sunday night. Chicago didn't get much of any pressure on Romo, and when they did he would just shake them off and complete a big pass. The Bears offense was stagnant, and Devin Hester was held in check. Basically, the Bears got pwned. As a Bears fan, I was more upset at the defense than anything. I wasn't surprised when Rex tossed up some INT's. The one thing that drove me up the wall about the offense though, was Bernard Berrian dropping three passes. Two of them that could have resulted in Bear points. The defense was what looked so dreadful. Tony Romo went 22/35, 329 YDS, 2 TD's, and 1 INT. Romo was on his game and the Bears coudn't stop him, along with TO and the rest of the targets. With that loss, the Bears are 1-2 and are in 3rd BEHIND THE DETROIT LIONS!!!
This is a completely different season, and so far the Packers do look like the team to beat in the NFC North. Chicago is going to have to solve their offensive issues. And right now, they don't look to be making a move at QB. Grossman looks to be there starter, and Griese looks like he will continue to stand on the sidelines. The Packers are a more complete team right now. They have a stifling defense and a more than capable offense. To me, the only thing that could possibly hold the Packers back as the season progresses is the run game. They have only averaged 57 RYPG so far. That is TERRIBLE.
Packer's Offensive Balance:
Pass: 68% Run: 32%
Uh, thats not gonna work. The Packers can NOT expect to continue like that. They must start trying to balance themselves out during games, and that means Jackson and Wynn must produce. So far, the Packers have been fine with this ratio. They are sitting back at 19th in total offense, and have averaged 27.3 total points per game. They are so far putting up more points per game than nine teams inside the Top 15 in total offense. I figured it up, and the offense has actually put up 25 per game. And that is good enough to be better than five teams inside the Top 15 in offense. (Just a fun and surprising fact, both the Raiders and Dolphins are inside the Top 15 for total offense so far) The Packers have shown us all that when they are on their game that they can beat anyone. But I will stress again that if they don't attempt to bring more balance to their offense it WILL cause them problems. They more than likely will make the playoffs now with this 3-0 start. 65% of the teams that have started 3-0 have made the playoffs. But, when they do make it it will be critical for them to show some balance.
As far as Chicago, they just need their offense to show up for their games. The defense and ST's will be there to help, but it's up to the offense to get them back in the playoffs. They only play four more games vs 2006 playoff teams, but the way some have improved and the way the Bears are looking right now they won't be a playoff team themselves. Rex Grossman must start being more consistent, that is a given. But the run game must contribute. 87 YDS a game is probably 20-40 YDS short of what they want. They are a run 1st team, and if they don't produce that is going to put more pressure on Grossman. Grossman's job is to manage the game, and he can't do that much less improve as a passer if he doesn't have help.
Right now, the Green Bay Packers are for real. They look like a playoff team. They look capable of a deep playoff run. And right now, the defending NFC Champion's don't look capable of beating some of their own divisional opponents. To me, the Lions and Vikings will both be no where near contention at seasons end. Granted, the Lions are 2-1 and in 2nd place. But, do you really think that team will hang around? They have John Kitna leading them. He has never been a succesful quarterback. They haven't proven that their run game or defense has improved. The Vikings look like the team they were in 2006. A run first offense with a solid defense that still doesn't put up any points. However horrible the Bears have looked so far, they will not stay at the bottom.
I'm a Bears fan, and I'm uneasy about the season. But, that doesn't mean I'm gonna stick a fork in the division just yet. No one should.
DA BEARS, DA BEARS, DA BEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!