After Green Bay drubbed Minnesota 42-10 to start off Week 6, I was, needless to say, very happy. At the same time, though, I didn't see us making up ground on Detroit or distancing ourselves from Chicago. On Sunday, the Lions were playing a Bills team starting Kyle "Neckbeard" Orton at quarterback (a Bills team, by the way, that had lost two straight), while Chicago was up against the Panthers, who were missing their first-string and second-string running backs (and Cam Newton's mobility), and had also lost two straight.
Yet by approximately 3:15 PM Central, Green Bay was a mere half-game behind the division-leading Detroit Lions and effectively one-and-a-half games ahead of the the Bears, who were supposed to be otherworldly just over a week ago. How did it happen?
Well OK that happened. And then this happened.
Buffalo Bills 17, Detroit Lions 14
I would feel for Detroit and their kicking woes if we hadn't suffered through Mason Crosby's 2012 season. Nate Freese clearly wasn't getting the job done, so the team cut ties with him and moved on to former Eagles placekicker Alex Henery. Henery went 0-for-3 on Sunday. Lions kickers haven't missed from inside 40 thus far this season, but are a horrid 1-for-9 from beyond that distance. Seriously, it's getting to the point where if the Detroit offense can't get into the redzone, there's zero point in kicking the field goal. Luckily for Lions fans, the team is in the process of trying out multiple options, including deposed Denver Bronco Matt Prater, who has been one of the league's best when not sitting out games due to suspension.
The issues here don't stop with special teams, though. Calvin Johnson's last few games are very much like Clay Matthews for a good part of last season. He's dressing out for the games and lining up on the field, but he's more a decoy than anything. He aggravated his ankle injury on his only reception versus Buffalo this week, and coach Jim Caldwell has admitted to regretting his decision to play Johnson against the Bills. Megatron figures to sit out a few weeks, with Golden Tate taking his place as the primary receiving option. Detroit isn't playing a murderer's row of teams (a visit to Minnesota, a home contest against Detroit and a trip to Atlanta are next on the schedule), but they are clearly a different team without Megatron doing Megatron stuff like catching touchdowns in quintuple coverage. An injury to Reggie Bush doesn't help things, either. It will be interesting to see how things progress down the stretch here.
Carolina Panthers 31, Chicago Bears 24
When the Bears ran up a 21-7 lead before halftime, I was ready to call it, not because of the score, but because Chicago looked so very impressive. The only touchdown they had surrendered was on a wild punt return, and Cutler & Co. had no difficulty in tearing apart the the Panthers' questionable secondary. Naturally, they scored a total of three points in the second half, and Carolina found its groove to top Chicago in Charlotte. We learned that the easiest way to attack the Chicago D (other than starting Aaron Rodgers at quarterback) is by acquiring a seam-stretching tight end. Greg Olsen beat his former team for 72 yards and a score on six catches in a game without a wideout topping 100 yards. Cutler threw his customary "Jay will be Jay" picks, and Matt Forte had an uncharacteristic fumble while failing to gain much traction versus one of the league's poorest run defenses thus far. For the offense, it was deja vu from the previous week, a good first half followed up by a total meltdown. We'll see if that pattern continues.
So long story short, that's why we're where we are. Here are the standings in the NFC North after five weeks:
|Green Bay Packers||3-2|
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