Welcome to the NFC North week one division breakdown. There is nothing quite like the first Sunday of the football season. Whether you are tailgating at the stadium, at the bar, or at home watching your favorite team, there is nothing like the first football game of the season.
For fans of the Bears and Packers that feeling came a little early this year as they opened the NFL season at Soldier Field in Chicago on Thursday night. One of the eldest rivalries in the league and we felt the rivalry all night, both on commentary and on the field.
The nostalgic videos that were played throughout the night celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the NFL and the great rivalry gave me goosebumps. Sadly, the play on the field was left to be desired.
In the NFC North weekly breakdown, we will breakdown every NFC North game. This week we had the aforementioned Bears and Packers game on Thursday Night Football, the Vikings hosted the Falcons, and the Lions travel to Arizona to battle the Cardinals.
Let’s get into it:
Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears
This game was a defensive struggle from the start. The Bears defense picked up where they left off last season as they forced the Packers into back to back 3 and outs to start the game, both of which ended in sacks. Saying the offenses struggled in this game would be an understatement. The teams combined for just over 400 yards of total offense.
The Bears were first to get points on the board. Rookie field goal kicker Eddie Pineiro knocked through a 38-yard field goal and made Soldier Field erupt. The era of the double doink is officially behind Bears fans. Unfortunately for them they still had to deal with Aaron Rodgers. Though Rodgers didn’t play great he did just enough to win this game.
Shortly after the Bears took a 3-0 lead, Rodgers and the Packers would answer with points of their own. In this case, it was the one and only touchdown of the game. Rodgers led a masterful 4 play 74-yard drive that started with a beautiful 47-yard strike to Marquez Valdez Scalding. Three plays later and Packers are in the endzone, as Jimmy Graham gets in for his first of the season.
The game would then turn back into a defensive battle as both teams failed to move the ball. The Packers newcomers on defense played great. Free-agent signings Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Za’Darius Smith all made an impact. Amos sealed the game picking Trubisky off in the end zone to seal the game with 2 minutes left in the game.
The Bears at one point dropped back to pass 29 straight plays. The boo birds were in full effect as Bears fans were disgusted by the play calling of Matt Nagy and the porous quarterback play of Trubisky. On the flip side, the Packers and their fans have to be feeling great after going into hostile territory and getting a key division win.
The Packers are now 1-0 and are at home for the next two weeks. They host Vic Fangio and his Broncos next week. The Bears now start the season 0-1 for the second straight season. The Bears go to Washington next week where their defense should feast on Case Keenum and that lackluster offensive line.
- Bears Offensive Player of the Game: Allen Robinson (7 rec, 102 yds)
- Bears Defensive Player of the Game: Kyle Fuller (6 tkl, PD, Held DaVante Adams to 36 yards)
- Bears Bum of the Game: Mitch Trubisky (18.5 QBR)
- Packers Offensive Player of the Game: Marquez Valdes-Scantling (4 rec, 52 yds)
- Packers Defensive Player of the Game: Adrian Amos (Game sealing INT, PD, TFL)
- Packers Bum of the Game: Aaron Jones & Jamaal Williams (18 carries for 40 yards)
Atlanta Falcons @ Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings started this game determined to gain momentum and that they did. A sack of Matt Ryan on the games first play put Atlanta on a quick 3 and out in their opening series. Eric Wilson would bust thru to block the Falcons punt setting his team up with a 1st and 10 from the Atlanta 21. Two plays later Kirk Cousins found Adam Thielen for a 23 yd TD and quickly 7-0 Vikings. The Vikings marched on scoring the games first 28 points, RB Dalvin Cook had scoring plays of 19 yds and 7 yds. The Vikings defense kept Atlanta off balance all afternoon as they forced 2 interceptions from Ryan and forced a fumble. Atlanta did mount a comeback in the 4th quarter, but too little too late as Minnesota held on for a 28-12 victory.
K. Cousins was 8/10 98 yds 1 TD, while D. Cook carried the load with 21 carries for 111 yds and 2 TD.
Fun Fact: The Vikings attempted only 10 passes in their win over the Falcons. They are 1 of 3 teams in the last decade to attempt 10 or fewer passes in a game(all 3 teams won)
Detroit Lions @ Arizona Cardinals
Matthew Stafford did what he does in this year’s season opener versus the Arizona Cardinals, quick pass after quick pass to lull the defense into playing short and then finds that quick strike down the field for a big play. He had a touchdown pass of 47 yards to Danny Amendola and a 23 yard TD strike to rookie TE T.J. Hockenson. For three quarters, this worked well for his Lions, as they were up 24-6 headed into the 4th quarter. In the 4th quarter, rookie QB Kyler Murray made his presence felt as he led the Cardinals to scoring drives on all 3 of their possessions, including the game-tying drive late in regulation.
Murray found Larry Fitzgerald for a 4-yard touchdown and a successful 2 point attempt tied the game at 24, headed to overtime. In overtime, the two teams traded FG’s and possessions. Stafford was almost picked off inside his own 30 as OT was coming to a close. One last heave downfield sailed out of bounds as the clock reached 0:00 and the NFL had its first tie of the season.
Stafford finished the game going 27/45 385 and 3 TD. Murray went 29/54 308 2 TD and 1 INT.
Debut to remember, T. J. Hockenson (131 yards) is just the 2nd rookie TE in the Super Bowl era with 100+ receiving yards in week 1.