NFC North: Week 5 Preview and Point Spreads
The Minnesota Vikings are… the class of the division? Now, that’s a tough thing to both say and hear. I believe a big part of the Vikes’ success has been due to their soft schedule so far, but it’s not like it’s getting any tougher: they get the Titans at home this week. Can the Vikings really keep winning games? Is it so weird to think that they might actually be good?
The rest of the division is racked in similar turmoil as we head into Week 5. The Packers, Super Bowl favorites only a few short weeks ago, appear mighty vulnerable, while it’s impossible to guess which Chicago Bears team will show up and play any given week. (Are you getting a five-interception performance from their defense, or is Jay Cutler throwing that many picks the other way?)
Let’s dive into this week’s slate of action in the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers (-7) at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. EST
I’ve seen Green Bay’s narrow win over the New Orleans Saints last week interpreted two different ways: it was either a symptom of much greater problems in the team’s chemistry, or it will provide an emotional checkpoint for the team to build success off of. I tend to believe in the former.
Have you watched the Packers so far this season? Their offense has looked completely out of whack. I don’t profess to be an expert on offensive game scheming in professional football, but for whatever reason, they’re playing like this year was the lockout and not last. Their offense, always built on rhythm and timing, has neither. A lot of blame has been pinned on their lack of running game, but they’ve never had a running game. Ryan Grant stank just as bad as Cedric Benson does, and the year they won the Super Bowl I think they ran the ball a total of six times in the playoffs (made up stat alert!) They’re playing mediocre football so far, and getting mediocre results for it. Granted, they got robbed in Seattle, but what the hell were they doing in a tight game against the Seattle Seahawks anyway? With all of my doubts of this team out of the way, I actually like them to cover this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Luck had a big day, but I believe the Pack will cover the touchdown spread.
Chicago Bears (-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, 4:05 p.m. EST
Jay Cutler unleashed his first stink bomb of the season against the Packers a couple weeks ago, so hopefully that’s out of his system. The Bears totally annihilated the Cowboys on Monday night, a product of their defensive play more than anything. However, Cutler quietly had a sensational game as well, racking up a 140 passer rating while Brandon Marshall destroyed the Cowboy’s secondary. This Bears team will have the occaisional hiccup in games, with Cutler making terrible decisions and throwing the game away, but when they’re on they’re really on. I like the Bears to cover the spread this week.
Tennessee Titans (+6) at Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EST
It happens every year: the plucky young team that is playing way above its station. This year, that team is the Vikings. The Vikes have a young, dynamic offensive line to protect resurgent QB Christian Ponder, and Percy Harvin has finally emerged as one of the best multi-faceted offensive threats in the NFL. They’re not a great team by any means, but they are good; that win over the 49ers wasn’t a fluke. They’re well coached, play hard and have high pedigree players at many important positions. It’s tough to ask for much more than that. I love the Vikes to cover this week.