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NFC North: Week One

Green Bay Packers v.s. Seattle Seahawks  (Packers +6, over/under 46) 

The Green Bay Packers get an early jump on the rest of the NFC as they go into Seattle to play the Seahawks on the Thursday Night season opener.  The last time these two teams met, the Seattle Seahawks were the beneficiaries of a replacement-referee-blunder on Monday Night Football.  The Packers are hoping that this prime-time match up will have a better ending.  The Packers and the Seahawks are two of the more talked about teams in the NFC and for good reason.


The Packers have one of the best coach/quarterback combos in Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers.  Rodgers has the ability to read defensive coverages better than most and McCarthy finds a weakness in a defense and then exploits it.  The only problem is, this Seattle defense remains one of the best in the league.  The Packers will have to rely on a balanced attack going against Seattle which isn’t easy.  Although running back Eddie Lacy is projected to have a huge season, it would come as no surprise to see Lacy’s yards per carry hover around the number three.  Even if that happens to be the case, the Packers can’t get antsy, they need to keep the offense balanced for any chance against one of the more stout defensive units in the game.

The secondary of the Seahawks is the best in the NFL and it’s led by their two monster safeties, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.  The match ups of Green Bays wide receivers, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson going against the Seattle corners of Byron Maxwell and Richard Sherman should be exciting to watch.  Cobb and Nelson are both far from soft and have proven to be clutch and never shy away from contact.  If any big plays come from this Green Bay passing game, it might be from one of it’s other receivers Jarrett Boykin or rookie Davante Adams – both have more opportunities against ‘less-than-elite’ talent.

The Seahawks offense is predicated on it’s run attack, which can probably slice up the middle of this Green Bay defense with ease.  The Packers are without B.J. Raji and without any real threat at the middle linebacker position.  Green Bay has added some pass rushing with the signing of Julius Peppers, but Russell is one of the more elusive quarterbacks in the pocket and does not make many mistakes.  The Seahawks receivers, with the exception of Percy Harvin, don’t really match up well with the opportunistic corners on Green Bay. With Micah Hyde starting instead of rookie Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, expect Dix to be called in as a nickel at times just to help slow down the running game.

Not many points will be scored in this one as a lot of these team’s strengths cancel each other out.  The story on this one will be Seattle being able to control the clock and field position to get the win in a low scoring game.

Predicted Score: 17-10 Seattle; Better’s Pick: The Under

Buffalo Bills v.s. Chicago Bears (Bears -7, over/under 47)

The Chicago Bears open up their season at home against a Buffalo Bills team that is searching for it’s identity – in more ways than one.  Owner Ralph Wilson passed away in this off-season sending the fear to fans in Buffalo that the team may be on the move.  They also lost linebacker Kiko Alonso, who as a rookie last year, gave this team 150 total tackles and 4 interceptions and after two off-season arrests, nobody truly knows what kind of player defensive tackle Marcell Dareus will be.


The Bears should look to stretch the field early in this one to loosen up the threat Buffalo possess up front on defense.  Buffalo has the ability to rush the quarterback with just their front four which includes the previously mentioned Dareus, as well as Mario Williams and Kyle Williams.  The off-season additions of linebackers Keith Rivers and Brandon Spikes will make it difficult for the Bears to get anything going in the ground game.  Fortunately for the Bears, head coach Marc Trestman has constructed, one of the best offensive attacks in the league in just one season.

The Bears bring the best wide receiver duo in the NFL with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey.  Both should be able to handle the secondary of Buffalo with ease, especially with the loss of free safety Jairus Byrd, who can no longer patrol the middle of the field for the Bills.  Tight end Martellus Bennett will keep the linebackers busy, while the late addition of Santonio Holmes will find spots in the secondary as well.

The Bears defensive line got remixed in the off-season and although it’s an upgrade, they will still have their hands full with running backs CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson.  The Buffalo wide outs are a young bunch led by second year man Robert Woods and rookie Sammy Watkins.  Watkins will very likely not be 100% for this game though, as he has been battling with bruised ribs.  The veteran corners on the Bears should keep things under control and until Bills quarterback EJ Manuel proves to be a threat passing the ball, the Bears will most likely stack the box to stop the run.

Jay Cutler and the Bears should be able to jump on the Bills early and force the Bills into mistakes late.

Predicted Score: 33-13 Bears; Better’s Pick: Bears -7

Minnesota Vikings v.s. St. Louis Rams (Vikings +4; over/under 44)

The Vikings and the Rams are two intriguing teams in the 2014 season. . . on the low.  The Vikings have a new coach and offensive coordinator who have impressive resumes in Mike Zimmer and Norv Turner. The Vikings travel into St. Louis with a new offense to put to the test right away against an impressive Rams defensive front.  There is no doubting the abilities of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, but even a man that strong will find it difficult finding running room against these Rams linebackers and linemen.  Can Matt Kail and the rest of this Vikings offensive line put up a fight against the rush that certainly will come from the Rams?  It will be a battle of stamina to see who gives or gets the big play late in the game.


Although the Vikings will still rely on the run this season with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, it’s easy to expect things to get vertical quickly.  Tight end Kyle Rudolf is hoping to see similar success as tight ends previously under Norv Turner’s watch – Antonio Gates and Jordan Cameron.  Wide receiver, Cordarrelle Patterson, will most likely find himself covered by cornerback Janoris Jenkins who is a good athlete, but his instincts haven’t seemed to fall in place yet at the position.

The Rams lost quarterback Sam Bradford for the season, which now puts in place 13 year veteran Shaun Hill. Hill has never been a high volume quarterback, but he has had his share of fumbling issues.  His touchdown to interception ratio is  a safe 2:1 and at this point in his career he is not being looked at as a savior.  His options at wide receiver are full of potential, but with Hill at quarterback, you have to believe that that potential will be put on hold.

Running back Zac Stacy will have a rough day against this under-rated Vikings defense, who made impressive acquisitions in the off-season by signing free agent Linval Joseph and drafting athletic linebacker Anthony Barr in this year’s draft.  Stacy looked to struggle a bit in the pre-season to get himself going and this opening week match up does not go in his favor at all.

Predicted Score: 19-13 Vikings; Better’s Pick: Vikings +4

Detroit Lions v.s New York Giants (Lions -5.5; over/under:47

If the preseason is any indication to how bad this Giants offense will look in 2014, this could end up being one of the more lob sided games of the week.  The Giants go into Detroit for a Monday Night showdown as a team that’s still trying to find out how to run a west coast offense.  Quarterback Eli Manning looked like a shell of himself as the Giants displayed no cohesiveness in their offensive attack, at all. Meanwhile, in Detroit, they continued to load up on offense even though it wasn’t necessary.


The Lions felt the need to sign Golden Tate as the compliment to stud wide receiver Calvin Johnson, while also drafting rookie Eric Ebron, a rookie tight end, in the first round.  It’ll be interesting to see how Matthew Stafford and this Detroit offense approach this Giants defense who have a pretty good secondary but a below average front seven.

The Lions will probably eat up as much time as they can on the ground with the dual back attack of Reggie Bush and Joquie Bell before testing out the secondary.  Pulling one of the Giants talented safeties, Stevie Brown or Antrel Rolle, out of position will figure to see Calvin Johnson in more one on one coverages, where he is nearly impossible to cover.

The Giants ineffective route running, timing and pass protection will result in too many three and outs to come back from. As it currently stands, the Giants are probably one of the few teams in the league, who can’t take advantage of a pretty bad Lions secondary.

Predicted Score: 28- 10, Lions; Better’s Pick: Lions -5.5

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio



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