Where do we begin talking about the NFC North this week? What's left of the Chicago Bears, or what Adrian Peterson is doing to people?
Some of my predictions from last week looked good.
For Minnesota-Cleveland, my Green Light picks were Peterson, the MIN DEF, and Joshua Cribbs. All three had good days. My sleeper for the game, Percy Harvin, caught Brett Favre's only touchdown pass (his first).
In the other two divisional games, there were some swings that missed. Calvin Johnson had 90 yards, but on only three catches and no touchdowns. Kevin Smith was solid, though, and the Drew Brees-led Saints took advantage of the Lions defense all day.
I'll go ahead and admit that my assumption that the Bears would be logical and run the ball out of the gate, and that Jay Cutler would look for Greg Olsen, were both terribly wrong. So was saying the Packers defense was a bad play.
In a weekend that saw, outside of Minnesota, everything go wrong that could in the division, I'll take my success rate.
Week Two presents some new challenges. Because of injuries and matchups, Let's take a look at the games.
Cincinnati @ Green Bay - Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Aaron Rodgers looked rusty Sunday night, and Ryan Grant didn't fly out of the gates. In fact, until Greg Jennings beat Nathan Vasher like a rented mule, nobody on the Packers offense was having an exceptional night.
This week's game could present an intriguing matchup for the Packers offense. The Bengals defense, much like the Bears in Lambeau last week, did a nice job until they got beat on a prayer to lose. The million dollar question, though, is whether or not the Bengals defense is that good, or the Broncos offense is... who we thought they were.
Similarly, the Bengals offense didn't fo much against the Denver defense last week, and the Packers took advantage of Cutler employing the Helen Keller method of reading zone coverage. Is Green Bay's defense that good, or was Cutler that bad?
Prediction: Green Bay 34 - Cincinnati 23
Green Light: Rodgers, Jennings, GB DEF
Yellow Light: Grant, Cedric Benson, Carson Palmer, Donald Lee
Red Light: CIN DEF, Chad Ochocinco
Sleeper: Laveranues Coles
Minnesota @ Detroit - Sunday 1:00 PM EST
Everyone together now: ka-ching! Minnesota looked every bit the NFC title contender against the Cleveland Browns, who figure to be more competitive than the Lions this year. Considering Mike Bell went over 100 yards for the Saints last week against Detroit, does that mean Peterson's good for 300? Nothing against Bell, of course, but Peterson's a machine.
On the other side, Detroit settled in and actually scored some decent points last week in their loss in New Orleans. Granted, they were chasing Brees up and down the turf, but Kevin Smith looked good. I'm not sure he's going to get the same looks against Minnesota's solid defense, though.
Prediction: Minnesota 43 - Detroit 24
SOLID GOLD LOCK: Peterson
Green Light: Harvin, MIN DEF, Calvin Johnson
Yellow Light: Favre, Visanthe Shiancoe
Red Light: Kevin Smith, DET DEF, Stafford
Sleeper: Chester Taylor
Pittsburgh @ Chicago - Sunday 4:15 PM EST
Both of these teams are dealing with serious losses to their defenses, with Troy Polumalu and Brian Urlacher, two of the marquee defensive players in the entire NFL, being inactive. The Steelers didn't lost much more than their star safety, though; Chicago lost half the defense.
The wild card in this game is what Pittsburgh offense comes out in Chicago's home opener. In Week One, it was an aerial assault from Ben Roethlisberger because of a faltering run game. The Steelers would love to establish their ground game, but the Bears banged up and vulnerable secondary might make them pass-happy again.
On the other side of the ball, to say the Bears have something to prove on offense might be the understatement of the season. With all the hype that Cutler brought with him to the offense, they were miserable in the first half in Green Bay. If Cutler plays like he did in the third and most of the fourth quarters, the Bears could have something to move the ball against the Steelers. If he comes out like he did to start the game against the Packers, it could be an ugly night by Lake Michigan.
Prediction: Pittsburgh 24 - Chicago 20
Green Light: Roethlisberger, Santonio Holmes
Yellow Light: Cutler, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Matt Forte, Greg Olsen, Willie Parker, PIT DEF, Heath Miller
Red Light: CHI DEF
Sleeper: Hines Ward