At 7-0 and with a 2 game lead over...well, the entire NFC, the Green Bay Packers are coming off of a matchup against the undefeated (but also winless) BYE WEEK. The Packers will take on the 4-3 San Diego Chargers this weekend in Qualcomm Stadium.
Since starting off 4-1, the Chargers have quite literally thrown away their last two games, an ugly 27-21 loss to the New York Jest and an even more devastating 23-20 overtime loss to the division rival Kansas City Chiefs. Philip Rivers is 2 interceptions (11) from eclipsing his total through 16 games last year (13), which is anything but good. In other news, Ryan Mathews cannot stay healthy, and Vincent Jackson has all but vanished over the course of San Diego's last three games (recording a grand total of 7 receptions for 98 yards and 0 touchdowns).
In other news, Marcus McNeill had possibly the worst performance by a supposed Pro Bowl tackle in the last 10 years, committing seven penalties (SEVEN!) and giving up two sacks to Tamba Hali. San Diego's first round pick from the 2009 NFL Draft (Larry English) landed on Injured Reserve just this past week with a broken foot. Kris Dielman is out at least two weeks after suffering a post-concussion seizure. This does NOT bode well for San Diego's offensive line, which has allowed 9 sacks in the past three weeks (5 of which came in a 29-24 win over Denver).
After the jump: the future and past opponents from previous weeks.
The division rival Minnesota Vikings improved to 2-6 on the year with a 24-21 victory over the Carolina Panthers that literally came down to the wire as Olindo Mare missed a game-tying 31-yard field goal with 0:26 remaining. The Panthers suffocated Adrian Peterson on the ground, holding him to 86 yards on 21 carries. However, Christian Ponder made great use of Peterson in the passing game, and Peterson had 5 receptions for 71 yards to lead all Minnesota receivers.
Through 8 games this season, Michael Jenkins, a free agent pickup from Atlanta, is 2nd on the Vikings in receptions (29) and leads the team in receiving yards (362) and receiving touchdowns (3). Percy Harvin leads the team in receptions (31) but is averaging a rather average 10.8 yards per reception (when compared to Harvin's 2009 and 2010 stats, where he averaged 13.2 and 12.2 YPC). This year, Percy has not scored a single receiving touchdown and has the dubious distinction of leading the Vikings in fumbles lost (2). However, Harvin has scored on 2 rushing touchdowns and has a 103 yard kick return for a TD.
The Vikings are on a bye this week, but will face the Packers in Green Bay in Week 10.
The St. Louis Rams, who the Packers defeated 24-3 in Week 6, earned their first win of the season in a 31-21 stunner over the New Orleans Saints. A huge factor in the Rams' win was a 3-sack performance by DE Chris Long, who also recovered a fumble, and the hard running of RB Steven Jackson paced a Rams offense that had looked somewhat inept in previous games. The Saints, the Packers' Week 1 opponent, fell to 5-3 but still lead the NFC South by one game over Tampa Bay and Atlanta (both of which stand at 4-3).
The Rams have a two-game road trip, first to division rival Arizona and then to Cleveland. Neither team is exactly invincible, and Arizona is riding a 6-game losing streak into next week's game. However, the Cardinals could be trouble as four of their losses have been by a touchdown or less.
Week 5 opponent Atlanta handed Detroit just its second loss of the year, but drew a Week 8 bye and thus could not take or tie for the NFC South lead after losses by New Orleans and Tampa Bay.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears both had bye weeks in Week 8, but in Week 7, both teams traveled to the United Kingdom to face off in London...and Tampa Bay immediately fell flat on their faces, falling behind 21-5. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers scored 13 consecutive points (2 TDs and a failed 2-point conversion) to make the score 21-18. Chicago couldn't quite seal the deal on their next offensive drive; Tampa Bay's defense held the Bears to a 25-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to make it 24-18.
Tampa Bay's last-gasp drive for the win showed signs of life, as the Bucs crossed midfield in two plays by Preston Parker and Mike Williams. However, Freeman's next two passes fell woefully incomplete, and on 3rd and 10 from the Chicago 38, D.J. Moore intercepted Freeman to end Tampa Bay's hopes of pulling ahead of New Orleans in the NFC South.
Tampa Bay travels to helpless Indianapolis, while Chicago heads off to Philadelphia, a team that they are familiar with beating of late; Chicago knocked out Philadelphia in 2007, 2008 and 2010.