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Around the NFC North: Week 1 in Review

Matthew Stafford and the Lions escaped with a late win against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Matthew Stafford and the Lions escaped with a late win against the St. Louis Rams on Sunday.

The NFC North put up a record of 3-1 this week. In recent years, when that happens you can pretty safely assume that the Packers ended up in the W side of that ledger. That was not meant to be in week one of the 2012 season.

Bears 41, Colts 21

The Bears got off to a slow start against the NFL's worst team in 2011, with the offense starting out with a 3-and-out and a Jay Cutler interception that was returned for a touchdown. However, the offense started rolling against the Colts' mediocre defense, as Jay Cutler racked up over 300 yards passing. The running game probably set the bar for the team moving forward, as Matt Forte and Michael Bush split carries about 60/40 and Bush got both goal-line opportunities. The Bears' defense gave up 300 passing yards of their own, but forced Andrew Luck into three interceptions.

Takeaway: the Bears have some receiving talent that has been lacking in recent years, but the Bears' offensive line didn't get much of a test as Dwight Freeney left early due to injury. The Packers must get a pass rush to disrupt Cutler's timing. Winning the turnover battle will be even more important than usual on Thursday.

Lions 27, Rams 23

Matthew Stafford spread the ball around all day, to both his own receivers (five Lions players had 4 or more receptions) and to the Rams' defense (three interceptions, including a pick-six). The Rams couldn't contain Stafford on his final two drives though, and he converted the winning score on a pass to Kevin Smith in the flat with ten seconds to go. The defense seemed solid, allowing only one touchdown to the Rams' offense, limiting them to 251 yards of total offense, and sacking Sam Bradford three times.

Takeaway: Like the Bears' game, this wasn't a terribly stiff test. The fact that a go-ahead score was necessary in the last minute of the game should be a little concerning to Detroit fans. Personally, I think this had a lot to do with St. Louis' defense improving and causing turnovers. Stafford will need to improve his decision making - they can't win sloppy games like this against better teams.

One more game review comes up after the jump.

Vikings 26, Jaguars 23 (OT)

Many expected Adrian Peterson to have a minimal effect on this game. Boy, were they wrong. Peterson scored twice on 17 carries while Christian Ponder made some big plays down the stretch to put the Vikings in position to tie the game with a 55-yard field goal at the final buzzer. This game also saw the first use of the new overtime rules: the Vikings scored a field goal on the opening drive, but then held the Jaguars on 4th down to secure the win.

Takeaway: This was a game the Vikings needed to win if they want to avoid being looked at as a doormat all season. Peterson's knee looked to be solid, which could be bad news for opposing defenses as he gets stronger throughout the season.


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