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NFC North Week 3 Review

Baltimore Ravens (2-1) @ Detroit Lions (0-3)

Final score: 19:17

Match recap: The Baltimore Ravens were heavy favourites jumping into this game as they looked to build on their impressive victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in week 2. However, the Detriot Lions were quite happy to come into this game as the underdogs with the opportunity to catch Baltimore off guard, and they sure did.

This game was far from a blow-out. It might’ve been one of the best displays we’ve seen from Detroit all season. After an uneventful first quarter, the Ravens got down to business in the second quarter thanks to Justin Tucker’s field goal and a Devin Duverney touchdown. This game was nearly getting out of hand in the third quarter as the Ravens extended their lead with a whopping 50-yard field goal by Tucker.

The Lions could’ve dropped their heads and accepted defeat, but they fought back with the heart of a Lion [no pun intended]. D’Andre Swift was a powerhouse in this game, juking defenders at every opportunity. Swift and second-string running back Jamall Williams would combine for two rushing touchdowns. However, Tucker would continue to strike field goals for the Ravens.

With just one minute to go, Lions’ kicker Ryan Santoso stepped up and looked to ice the game for the Lions. Santoso’s kick was good from 35-yards out. With just one minute remaining, Lamar Jackson and the Ravens stringed together a couple of plays to get Tucker in field position to win the game.

The Lions defence kept their composure and forced the Ravens to settle for a 65-yard field goal. A 65- yarder is on the verge of being impossible to execute. And there’s probably only a handful of kickers who could attempt such a daunting kick, Tucker is one of those kickers.

Tucker rifled the ball from 65-yards out, and it almost felt as if the game was in slow motion as the ball gracefully drifted through the air. It's off the crossbar.... and in! From 65-yards out, Tucker boots the Ravens to 2-1 on the year. After Tuckers' kick was good, Lions head coach Dan Campbell just looked deflated along with the rest of the team. A hard-fought game from both sides, the Ravens just edged out the Lions to avoid a major upset.

The good:

Although the Lions lost this game, there were a few positives:

The defence played outstanding. They only conceded one touchdown and held the Ravens to three field goals.

They also sacked Lamar Jackson four times.

The Lions' run game was also top-notch.

Swift and Williams are becoming quite the 1-2 punch package.

The bad:

Unfortunately, this Lions offense was unable to capitalise on the big plays made by the defence. The Lions were horrendous in the passing game. Lions’ quarterback Jared Goff didn’t have the worst game by any means; he finished 22-30 on pass attempts. It was the receiving core that was the weak link for this Lions team, and that’s no surprise at all. All throughout the offseason, the fear was that the Lions would struggle to find wide receivers in the endzone due to their lack of depth at the position. Too much pressure was placed on the rookie wide receiver Amon- Ra St. Brown to become the answer to this desperate wide receiving core. The Lions will need to scower free agency for a wide-reciever or hope that one of its current receivers steps up to the task of becoming a clear no.1 wide-out. If not, the Lions will struggle to keep up with any NFL offense.

Week 4: Up next for the Lions, it’s their division rivals, the Chicago Bears. This one promises to be an entertaining watch as the Lions will be hungrier than ever to get a win on the board, especially against the Bears.

Player to watch: Look for any of the Lions’ wide receivers. Out of Khalif Raymond, Amon-Ra St.Brown and Quintez Cephus one of them needs to assert themselves as the top receiver. Maybe this is the game where they announce it.

Green Bay Packers (2-1) @ San Francisco 49ers (2-1)

Final score: 30:28

Match recap: Whatever you do, never get too confident when you’re winning, and Aaron Rodgers is stepping onto the field to lead a comeback drive. He is the king of breaking the hearts of opposing fans in the final minutes of an NFL game. Sunday Night football against the San Francisco 49ers was no exception.

Who else but Rodgers’ trusty wide receiver Davante Adams to open the scoring for the Packers. At one point in this game, Green Bay were up by 17 points thanks to their kicker Mason Crosby and running back Aaron Jones. However, touchdowns by Trey Lance and Brandon Aiyuk launched the 49ers right back into this game. A late touchdown by fullback Kyle Juszczyk seemed to cement the victory for the niners leaving just 37 seconds for Rodgers and Matt LaFleur to come up with an answer.

Rodgers was like a surgeon with his precision passing as he managed to find Davante Adams on two separate occasions to thrust the Packers into field goal range. Mason Crosby’s kick was good from 51- yards out, and the Packers walked away from Levi Stadium with an impressive away victory.

The good:

Once again, Rodgers is looking sharp and his rapport with Davante Adams is looking like a well-oiled machine. This Packers offense showed that it can compete with high-scoring offenses, whether it’s the aerial attack or the ground attack, they will find a method to score points.

This Packers team was also clinical to begin this game, an improvement on last week's first half slump against the Lions.

Packers’ linebacker Rashan Gary had a solid game, recording half a sack and registering two qb hits. Hopefully Gary can build off a steady performance and emerge as an elite defensive weapon for the Packers.

The bad:

There actually wasn’t too much wrong with this Packers performance. There’s no point in slating a team just for the sake of it. It’d be nice to see the Packers give Davante Adams some respite, but big game players are always going to be depended on.

As much as this Packers performance was solid, they nearly blew a 17-point lead. This Packers defence needs to become just that bit more aggressive and confident in its ability.

Week 4: The Green Bay Packers will host the Pittsburgh Steelers next week. If elite pass rusher T.J. Watt is back on the field for the Steelers, this Packers offensive line will need to have a stellar performance.

Player to watch: Expect WR Davante Adams to have another huge game as this Steelers defence has been underwhelming against the passing attack.

Seattle Seahawks (1-2) @ Minnesota Vikings (1-2)

Final score: 17:30

Match recap: The Vikings were strutting into this matchup without a win on the board. A harrowing loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in week 2 left the Vikings with a bitter taste in their mouths.

The Vikings certainly channeled their week 2 frustration into an impressive performance against the high-flying Seattle Seahawks.

The Seahawks opened the scoring with a D.K Metcalf touchdown grab. However, the Vikings responded with their tight end Tyler Conkin breaking into the end zone.

Seahawks’ lead running back Chris Carson would score the Seattle's’ last touchdown of the game in the second quarter. After Carson sprung into the endzone, this Vikings’ defence locked up the Seahawks’ offence for the remainder of the game.

While the Vikings’ defence was busy shutting down a lack-lustered Seahawk's offense, the Vikings offence found another gear that we haven’t seen all season as they cruised to victory. Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins was launching the ball to his star-studded receiving duo Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen to give the Vikings a comfortable lead, whilst backup running back Alexander Mattison continued to find huge chunks of yardage on the ground.

Vikings’ kicker Greg Joseph closed out the game with three consecutive field goals, the longest from 43- yards out, and the Vikings managed to get their first win of the season with ease. Something Vikings fans aren’t used to seeing- an undramatic victory.

The good: Yes, you just read about a Vikings victory that didn’t involve Dalvin Cook. The fact the Vikings managed to snatch their first win of the season without their star running back is arguably one of the best achievements by any NFL team this week.

Many had criticised this Vikings’ offence for being too reliant on Cook. However, this week, the Vikings proved to the NFL that they’ve got enough weapons to pick up the slack when their offensive star is taken out of the picture.

Kirk Cousins had a fantastic game. He finished 30-38 on pass attempts with 3 touchdown passes and 323 passing yards. Cousins really has silenced his critics this season.

How bout that defence! The Vikings’ defence suffocated this heavily praised Seahawk’s offence. Everson Griffen announced himself as the top edge rusher on this roster as he continued to boast another impressive performance. Griffin and linebacker Eric Kendricks both managed to record a sack against Russell Wilson.

With both the offence and defence playing looking red-hot for the Vikings, if they continue to produce similar performances week in and week out, this team could be a serious contender for the NFC North.

The bad: It was hard to find any weakness in this Vikings performance. However, this secondary needs to start picking off opposing quarterbacks as they have failed to record an interception since week one. In tight games, an interception can flip the game on its head. The fear is that the Vikings fall behind and the defence fails to step-up.

Week 4: The Minnesota Vikings will host the Cleveland Browns this week. The Browns are oozing with confidence after they picked the Bears to pieces in week 3. This Vikings defence will need to be stubborn against the bulldozing run game of the Browns.

Player to watch: QB Kirk Cousins- with the form Cousins is in right now, this is going to be a great test for the veteran quarterback. If he can continue to be efficient against one the best defences in the league, well then, the quarterback controversy in Minnesota may finally be put to rest. Well, at least for a little while.

Chicago Bears (1-2) @ Cleveland Browns ( 2-1)

Final score: 6:26

Match recap: Well, that might be one of the worst team performances we’ll see all season. The Chicago Bears got absolutely thumped by the Cleveland Browns.

We all knew that rookie quarterback Justin Fields was going to struggle against the dawg pound defence. However, we don’t think anybody saw the Browns being just as dominant as they were.

The Bears would send out their kicker Cairo Santos in the first quarter and the third quarter to score their only points of the game. Yes, the Bears flew all the way to Cleveland to suffer an embarrassing victory and kick two field goals for six points.

This Browns offence made light-work of the Bears’ defence. They marched their way to victory with a punishing run game with their bell-cow running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Odell

Beckham also marked his first game back after missing the start of the season due to his ACL tear.

Whilst the Browns offence was scoring with ease, the Browns defence was feasting on a horrific offensive-line performance by the Bears. Justin Fields will be having nightmares about Myles Garrett as the elite edge rusher sacked the rookie 4.5 times. Fields was sacked nine times this game. He probably spent more time on the ground than he did upright. It was a truly awful display by the Bears.

The good: There was nothing good about this Bears performance, the only good thing to come out of this game is that Fields didn’t get injured

The bad: Oh, there were so many awful things about this performance that we’d need all day to go through it, but we’ll narrow it down to three major flaws about this Bears outing against the Browns.

  1. Their offensive line needs a tonne of work. You cannot afford to let your franchise quarterback hit the turf nine times and expect to win the game, it just doesn't happen.

  2. Please, please give the ball to Allen Robinson II. He’s one of the top receivers in the league but Matt Nagy just refuses to utilise him in the passing game. Speaking of the passing game, the Bears only managed 68 passing yards- that is woeful.

  3. This Bears’ defence needs to find its mojo. After such a promising defensive performance against the Bengals last week, this Bears defense looked as if it had lost all its fire power. This defence needs to rediscover itself as it really is the identity of this team.

Week 4: It’s the Chicago Bears hosting the Detroit Lions this week. This isn’t the hottest matchup by any means, but it could well end up being one of the games of the week. These two teams are still trying to find their groove and after the Bears were humiliated last week, they will certainly be entering this game with a point to prove to the entire NFL.

Player to watch: Nobody is more important to watch in this game than QB Justin Fields. If Fields continues to struggle against one of the weaker NFL defences, it’ll be a worrying sight. Fields needs to come out on fire and prove why he’s the future quarterback of this franchise.


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