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Packers: The NFC North still runs through Green Bay

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With the dismantling of the Vikings, the Packers have shown they are still the team to beat in the NFC North.

Coming into the 2020 NFL season, NFL pundits made predictions for each team and where they would finish within their divisions, just like every year. The common theme around the Green Bay Packers was, “Are they really that good?”.

That was a fair question. A 13-3 record and a trip to the NFC Championship game in 2019 would certainly indicate they were a good team. It’s fair to ask because they got walloped in said NFC Championship game and they were playing an easier schedule after finishing third in the division the year before.

Many wanted to believe Aaron Rodgers had a down year last year and expected that trend to continue. After the Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round this year, it became more believable that the Packers were ready to move on from Rodgers.

On top of that, to the dismay of fans, the Packers didn’t draft a receiver in the draft. They took some players that looked like they were going to go run-heavy this season. Also, everyone complained that the Packers had no receiving weapons outside of Davante Adams. So it’s easy to see why the expectations weren’t super high for Green Bay.

What I don’t understand, is why everyone was so high on the Minnesota Vikings. Many thought they had such a good enough offseason that they passed the Packers and were a popular pick to finish on top of the NFC North in 2020. They added Yannick Ngakoue from the Jacksonville Jaguars and had a nice draft, taking Justin Jefferson in the first round.

But what I don’t understand is why everyone was so quick to make them the favorites. They lost both of their starting cornerbacks and replaced them with a pair of players who haven’t started before in Mike Hughes and Holton Hill.

Behind them is a pair of rookies, Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler. While Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes may not have been playing their best in the past few years, there was still a familiarity and cohesion there. Now, they are basically starting from scratch, which is tough to do even if Mike Zimmer is a defensive mastermind.

On offense, they lost Stefon Diggs, who consistently killed the Packers. They replaced him with Jefferson. While I think Jefferson has some great potential and could be really good, he’s still just a rookie, and rookies generally aren’t very good. Especially not Diggs-good.

It all showed on Sunday.

The Packers came out hot on offense and stayed hot most of the game. They punted just one time, and that came at the 7:35 mark in the third quarter. Rodgers looked like his old self, throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns, making insanely difficult passes look easy. Davante Adams torched the Vikings’ secondary all game, proving he is one of the best receivers in the league.

I’d like to say it made a difference that Danielle Hunter was out, but even with injuries, the Green Bay offensive line did extremely well. Rodgers was clean all game and didn’t get sacked once. Both Elgton Jenkins and Rick Wagner did very well at right tackle, which is where Ngakoue lined up most of the time.

The Packers’ defense looked good for the most part. Maybe they let up a bit in the second half or played too conservatively, but the Vikings’ offense didn’t do too much until the late in the game. Jaire Alexander gave up some plays to Adam Thielen, but he also had a pick and a huge safety in the first half.

This game was just dominant for the Packers. Hanging 43 points on the Vikings is no easy task. But year two of the Matt LaFleur offense looks like it will be a good one.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions game was one of the ugliest games yesterday. The Bears had no business coming back and winning that game, and even still the Lions were a dropped pass in the end zone away from pulling it off at the last second. Neither of those teams looked anywhere near as good as the Packers did.

I’ll admit, I still don’t think the Packers will get back to 13-3 as they did a season ago, but mostly because their schedule is a lot tougher than it was last year. Whether there are fans or not, the New Orleans Saints showed it is still tough to win in New Orleans after making the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a sexy contender pick, look like an average team in Week 1.

Green Bay still has to go there in Week 3. They also have to travel to Tampa Bay, Houston, and San Francisco. The schedule really isn’t doing them any favors.

But, if they can play as they did in Week 1 at Minnesota, it will be tough to see another team in the division overtaking Green Bay.

The Packers still run the North.

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Jeremy Chinn lauded as best defensive rookie by NFL analyst

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Jeremy Chinn’s outstanding start to life with the Carolina Panthers has caught the attention of NFL analyst Peter Schrager.

The impact being made by Jeremy Chinn during his initial few games for the Carolina Panthers is being recognized across the league, and deservedly so.

Chinn has been nothing short of a revelation since the Carolina Panthers moved up to take the do-it-all defender at No. 64 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. He hasn’t been overawed by the next level in the slightest and already appears to be an indispensable member of the organization’s current rebuild under new head coach Matt Rhule.

The former Southern Illinois sensation possesses a rare blend of speed and athleticism that gets him to the point of attack quickly. Chinn also has the football IQ of a seasoned veteran to call upon that has further aided his transition to the pro ranks.

The Carolina Panthers have struck gold with Jeremy Chinn

His exceptional performance at the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 3 played a leading role in the Panthers’ picking up an elusive first win of the campaign. Chinn is a must-watch defender that is capable of great things, but his ability to motivate others around him at such a young age is equally as impressive.

This has also caught the attention of Peter Schrager, who is part of the Good Morning Football team over at the NFL Network. The analyst lauded Chinn’s contribution through three weeks of the season and went as far as to say he was the league’s best defensive rookie at the present time.

Chinn’s immediate impact was expected, but not to this degree.

His starring display during training camp won Chinn the starting outside linebacker spot opposite Shaq Thompson. Despite operating primarily as a safety in college, the rookie has made an incredible move to the second level that brought instant results.



It seems somewhat bizarre that Chinn has a 42.4 grade from Pro Football Focus for his efforts so far this season. Granted, PFF is not the gospel when it comes to this sort of thing, but they are as close as it gets.

This is probably not at the forefront of Chinn’s mind. He is a bonafide playmaker whose ceiling has hit the stratosphere thanks to a level of consistency that is seldom seen in rookie players at the position.

He has shouldered plenty of responsibility for the Panthers and has risen to the challenge in no uncertain terms. Chinn has been a real asset in run support in addition to his renowned ability to make plays in coverage during passing downs in the slot.

The sky is the limit for Chinn, of that there is little doubt. It will be interesting to see how he performs now the element of surprise regarding his production is out. But judging by the way that the player has handled himself so far, it would be a huge shock if this impacted his overall influence.

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Report: Kenny Golladay to make his Lions debut in Arizona

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Kenny Golladay.

According to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport, a source revealed to him that Golladay is set to make his 2020 debut when the Lions play the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday afternoon in the Grand Canyon State. The fourth-year receiver has been sidelined over the first two games of the season due to a hamstring injury.

Golladay was listed as questionable for this Week Three matchup on the Lions’ official injury report after being limited all week during practices. The 26-year old wideout figures to provide the Lions’ offense with a big boost against the Cardinals’ eighth-ranked passing defense.

Last season, Golladay led the NFL with 11 touchdown receptions. He was targeted a team-high 116 times and recorded 65 receptions for 1,190 yards while averaging 18.3 yards per catch. Golladay was a third-round selection by Detroit back in 2017 and earned his first Pro Bowl nomination just last year.

This Sunday’s contest is a rematch of the Lions and Cardinals game from 2019. The season opener in 2019, which also took place in Arizona, saw Detroit give up a 24-6 lead in the fourth quarter, sending the game into overtime and ending with a 27-27 tie.

In that previous matchup, Kenny Golladay would record four receptions for 42 yards and a score against the Cardinals. But he was outshined by two other Detroit Lions. Slot receiver Danny Amendola racked up seven catches for 104 yards and his lone touchdown of the season in Arizona last year. While rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson caught six passes for 131 yards and a score in a record-setting performance.

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Colts: This is the clearest evidence we have of Mo Alie-Cox supplanting Jack Doyle

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Get ready to see more Mo Alie-Cox in the Colts offense.

Remember when fans in Indianapolis were concerned about who would emerge as Philip Rivers’ security blanket in light of the injuries to projected starting tight ends Jack Doyle and Trey Burton at the beginning of the season?

That seems like ages ago after Mo Alie-Cox, who was forced into a prominent role, has quite literally put a stranglehold on the starting job. Through three games, the third-year pro has become one of Rivers’ favorite targets, logging 10 receptions for a team-high 181 yards and a touchdown.

It would have been understandable for Alie-Cox believers to be worried he would end up splitting snaps with Doyle in Week 3 following the veteran’s return from ankle and knee injuries. However, Alie-Cox, the former college basketball star, is clearly well ahead of his running mate in the TE pecking order.

According to Andrew Walker of Colts.com, Doyle — for the first time since Week 15 of the 2015 campaign — didn’t receive a single target as a pass catcher in Sunday’s win over the Jets.

You might counter by saying that Alie-Cox only garnered three targets against New York, but he caught all three of them for 50 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t mind-boggling stats by any stretch, but the Colts offense wasn’t asked to do much in a game in which the defense outscored their opponent.

Want more evidence that Alie-Cox has supplanted Doyle as the No. 1 tight end? For the second straight week, he earned the top grade at the position from Pro Football Focus. His 93.3 marking for the season is not only the highest of all tight ends, but it’s good for the third-highest grade among all offensive players. As crazy as it sounds, the 27-year-old only trails the likes of Aaron Rodgers (95.6) and Russell Wilson (93.6).

Think about how preposterous that is.

Alie-Cox receiving such high praise from PFF doesn’t just boil down to his proficiency as a pass catcher, either. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound stud has also been one of the NFL’s most dominant run blockers for his position. Through three weeks, he’s earned a 76.3 grade, which is good for the fifth-best in the league, so it’s not like he’s going to lose snaps to Doyle in that regard.

Haven’t bought into the Alie-Cox hype yet? Well, Colts offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni pretty much admitted on Tuesday that the big man is forcing the coaching staff’s hand in featuring him heavily moving forward.

Rolling with the hot hand in Alie-Cox over seniority and experience in Doyle is undoubtedly the right call by the Colts. We’ll refrain from asserting that the VCU product is establishing himself as one of the most well-rounded tight ends in the NFL, but that could certainly change by the time the season is over.

For now, we’ll say that Alie-Cox is one of the league’s biggest surprises through the first three weeks of 2020 and the starting job should be his until he gives Reich and Co. a reason to bench him. Based on his play thus far, we can confidently say that isn’t going to happen.

Next: Michael Pittman Jr. Undergoes Leg Surgery

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