NFL Week Four: The Way We See It

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will look to continue their recent domination of the Bears when the two sides meet on Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers

After losing two of their first three games and seeing their offense held in check by the Detroit Lions, there was a sense of panic enveloping Green Bay.

The beloved Packers had been able to light up the scoreboard ever since quarterback Aaron Rodgers and head coach Mike McCarthy became partners, but something seemed wrong in the first three weeks of the season. The passing game seemed to be stuck in the mud, and the ground game that the Packers discovered last season with Eddie Lacy had suddenly disappeared.

With a Week Four game at Chicago coming up, Rodgers decided to take matters into his own hands. He was confident that the Packers were just the victims of a slow start and that their offense was about to come alive.

“Everybody needs to relax,” Rodgers said at an early-week press meeting “R-E-L-A-X. Everything is going to be fine. We’re going to be just fine.”

Perhaps Rodgers had just looked at a reel of his past success against Chicago, or at least got a look at the personnel the Bears were putting on the field. For some reason, he was fully confident that e and his teammates could light up Chicago.

The Packers made Rodgers look like a man of his word. The Packers went to their home away from home – they have dominated at Soldier Field – and laid a 38-17 beating on the Bears.

Both teams played sensationally on offense through the first half, but the Packers sustained their offense threw the second half. The previously dormant Green Bay offense came to life as Rodgers completed 22-of-28 passes for 304 yards with four TDs and no interceptions.

The Packers, Bears and Vikings are all 2-2 in the NFC North. All three teams are looking up at the Detroit Lions, who bear little resemblance under head coach Jim Caldwell that previous editions did under bombastic former coach Jim Schwartz.

The old Lions had plenty of talent on both sides of the ball – Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley – but they were the most undisciplined team in the league.

You wanted penalties? The Lions provide a basket full of them? You wanted turnovers? Stafford was just too happy to oblige.

But Caldwell’s message has been a simple one. He has asked the Lions not to beat themselves. The Lions went to MetLife Stadium in Week Four to take on the New York Jets. It was quite clear that Detroit was more talented than New York, but this was just the kind of game that the Lions always managed to lose in the past.

Not this time. The Lions were not spectacular, but their mistakes were limited and they pulled off a methodical 24-17 victory. Stafford threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns, and he also ran for a touchdown. However, the number that made him the happiest was the big, fat zero in the interception column.

At the same time, the Lions defense had little trouble shutting down erratic Geno Smith and the Jets’ offense. The Lions simply stayed in their lanes, slowed down New York’s ground game and dared Smith to mount a sustained attack. He was not up to the task.

Penalties appear to be a bad memory for the Lions. They committed five for 33 yards and are looking like a solid playoff team.

The Eagles came into Week Four with the goal of going to the West Coast and finding a way to get the best of the struggling San Francisco 49ers.

The Eagles had been a perfect 3-0, and had shown the league they could come back from big deficits each week behind quarterback Nick Foles and get the victory.

When the Eagles stopped the 49ers on their opening possession and blocked the ensuing punt for a touchdown, it looked like Philadelphia might be successful. But the Niner defense was not about to let Foles and running back LeSean McCoy get comfortable. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio put together a nasty gameplan and the Eagles could not score on offense or even move the ball to the fourth quarter.

Philadelphia had scored on an interception return for a score by Malcolm Jenkins and a punt return for a TD by slippery Darren Sproles. But that was all they could do, and the 49ers woke up and got an important 26-21 win they needed badly.

The Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals are both undefeated, and they are now the only teams in the NFL with unblemished records. Both teams had early bye weeks, and  both teams will be involved in epic games in Week Five. The Cardinals will travel to Denver, while the Bengals will go to New England. If either team can pick up a win in those tough venues, they just may be changing the face of the NFL for the 2014 season.

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