Welcome to the ninth edition of News From The North! This is your destination for updates on the NFC North. This report includes recaps of the first two weeks of preseason, major roster changes, and more.
- Vikings 2-0 (W over Saints, Seahawks), Point Differential +15
- Packers 1-1 (W over Texans, L to Ravens), PD -11
- Bears 0-2 (L to Panthers, Giants), PD -29
- Lions 0-2 (L to Patriots, Texans), PD -35
It certainly feels good to be on top and undefeated, however, that should be taken with a grain of salt. While 9/12 playoff teams last year did win at least two preseason games, two of those remaining three teams won zero preseason games (Cowboys, Seahawks). Minnesota went 3-1 in the 2018 preseason, good for best in the division, but ultimately failed to make the 2018 playoffs. So be optimistic, but cautiously optimistic.
*This chart does take into account games that ended in a tie.
The Minnesota Vikings:
The purple and gold have entered the preseason guns blazing as the only team to win both games so far as well as the only one with a positive point differential. Every part of the offense has been solid:
- The quarterbacks have completed nearly 76% of pass attempts, averaging 8.37 yards/attempt. The TD/INT ratio looks great, sporting 5 touchdowns to only 1 interception (Mannion). There have also been no sacks.
- The receivers have been excellent, averaging just over 11 yards/catch.
- The run game has been solid, with 350 rushing yards over 66 attempts for a great average of 5.3 yards/carry.
- No missed field goals or PATs.
The defense has stepped up as well, creating 3 sacks and 2 interceptions (one for a pick-6 by Nate Meadors).
Roster Moves/Coaching Changes:
Minnesota hosts Arizona (1-1) on Saturday, August 24th at 12pm CT.
The Detroit Lions:
After suffering a giant 31-3 home blowout to New England in the preseason opener, the Motor City Kitties stepped up their game but ultimately lost 30-23 in Houston. With Matt Stafford yet to take the field, everything about Detroit’s offense has been miserable.
- The quarterbacks are currently sporting a meager 52% pass completion rate, with 1 touchdown, 2 interceptions, and 11 sacks!
- The receiving corps is miraculously averaging 14.75 yards/catch, but with a single touchdown to show for it that hardly means much.
- Ball carriers aren’t fairing much better, averaging an acceptable 4.5 yards/carry but again, only for a single touchdown (36 attempts).
- Their kickers have made all field goal attempts and PATs.
Defensively the Lions have been average; two sacks, one interception.
Detroit hosts Buffalo (2-0) on Friday, August 23rd at 7pm CT.
The Chicago Bears:
The Bears must be spending a lot of time in the film room, because they have been extremely similar to the Lions. Trubisky has not taken the field so far, and his absence is very visible as the team has handily lost both preseason contests.
- The quarterbacks have produced zero touchdowns, although they haven’t been picked off yet either. However, they do have 8 sacks across these two games. They have completed just over 60% of their attempts.
- Receivers are averaging 9.75 yards/catch.
- The ground game has somehow faired better, creating two touchdowns despite a low 2.9 yards/carry.
- The Bears are the first team to show an imperfect kicking squad, going 4/6 on field goal attempts.
The defense is, unsurprisingly, a bright spot for this team. Five sacks and two picks are nothing to scoff at.
Roster Moves/Coaching Changes:
After waiving K Elliott Fry, their kicker for the foreseeable future will be Eddy Pineiro.
Chicago travels to Indy (0-2), facing off Saturday, August 24th at 6pm CT.
The Green Bay Packers:
Although it pains me to say it, the Cheeseheads have been…good? Well, let’s just go with “not horrifically terrible like Detroit and Chicago”. Rodgers hasn’t seen any snaps, but the numbers would support otherwise.
- The quarterbacks have accumulated 4 touchdowns and no picks, with only 3 sacks (one per QB). They have somehow accomplished this while only completing 54% of their pass attempts.
- The wideouts have performed well, averaging 11.48 yards/catch.
- Ball carriers have a way to go, averaging only 3.2 yards/carry and no touchdowns despite 150 rushes.
- The kicking has been perfect thus far.
The Pack defense has been very good, producing 3 sacks and 3 interceptions.
Green Bay goes to Oakland (2-0), playing Thursday, August 22nd at 7pm CT.
As always, special thanks to ESPN and Pro-Football-Reference for all statistics. Please subscribe to our Patreon to get exclusive content and perks, and follow me on Twitter @AdamNelson22_ to stay up to date on all things Vikings! SKOL