NFC North game scout

With the Vikings on bye, we take a snapshot look at the NFC North games to keep an eye on this weekend. Could the Lions get their second win, will the Bears keep pace with a solid opponent and will the Packers keep the Bucs winless?

Sunday
Arizona Cardinals (4-3) at Chicago Bears (4-3)
San Diego Chargers (4-3) at New York Giants (5-3)
Kansas City Chiefs (1-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (3-4)
Dallas Cowboys (5-2) at Philadelphia Eagles (5-2)
Miami Dolphins (3-4) at New England Patriots (5-2)
Detroit Lions (1-6) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5)
Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7)
Carolina Panthers (3-4) at New Orleans Saints (7-0)
Baltimore Ravens (4-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-2)
Washington Redskins (2-5) at Atlanta Falcons (4-3)
Houston Texans (5-3) at Indianapolis Colts (7-0)
Tennessee Titans (1-6) at San Francisco 49ers (3-4)
Monday
Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) at Denver Broncos (6-1)


Arizona Cardinals (4-3) at Chicago Bears (4-3)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/08/09
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver)

SERIES

88th regular-season meeting. The Bears lead 55-26-6 and have won the last three. The teams last met in 2006 and, in Arizona, the game is known as The Monday Night Meltdown. The Cardinals (1-4) at the time led the undefeated Bears, 23-3. But they let the Bears score three touchdowns in the final quarter to lose, 24-23. That touched off former coach Dennis Green's famous post-game rant. "You want to crown them, go ahead and crown their asses," he said, his voice rising. "But they are exactly who we thought they are, and we let them off the hook."


KEYS TO THE GAME

Cardinals QB Kurt Warner is coming off a six-turnover game and has been impatient of late with defenses playing back in a lot of deep coverages. It would help to get rookie RB Beanie Wells more involved to set up play-action, and Warner needs to take more deep shots to WR Larry Fitzgerald and let him make plays even against double coverage. The Bears' ground game showed a glimmer of life last Sunday, while Arizona fell from first to eighth in run defense after giving up 270 yards to Carolina. QB Jay Cutler makes too many mistakes when the offense becomes one-dimensional and is also coming off a game in which he was physically battered by Cleveland.

FAST FACTS

Cardinals WR Anquan Boldin has 537 career receptions, passing RB Larry Centers for the franchise lead. ... The Bears have a six-game home winning streak.


Detroit Lions (1-6) at Seattle Seahawks (2-5)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:05 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/08/09
SURFACE: FieldTurf
TV: FOX (Dick Stockton, Charles Davis)

SERIES

11th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 6-4. The Seahawks won the last meeting, 9-6, but it was a bit of a moral victory for the Lions. It was the Seahawks' first real game since playing Super Bowl XL in the Lions' home stadium, Ford Field.

KEYS TO THE GAME

Former Seahawk RB Maurice Morris could play a big role. Lions starter Kevin Smith is expected to play, but does have a shoulder injury and Morris provided a lift in increased action last Sunday. Detroit wants to run the ball effectively because its defense is beat up - particularly in the secondary. That's music to the ears of Seattle and QB Matt Hasselbeck, who is completing just 55.9 percent of his passes and struggling to get in sync with WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh. The question will be whether Detroit can take advantage of Seattle's beat up offensive line and limit Hasselbeck's ability to go through his progressions.

FAST FACTS

Detroit is 2-29 in its past 31 games. ... The Seahawks' two victories have been shutouts at home. They have been outscored 147-66 in their other five games.


Green Bay Packers (4-3) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (0-7)

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
GAMEDATE: 11/08/09
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX (Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers)

SERIES

51st regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 29-20-1. The Buccaneers have won the past two encounters, including 30-21 at Tampa Bay last season, and six of the last nine meetings dating to 1999. Tampa Bay owns a 6-1 home record in the series since Raymond James Stadium opened in 1998. The former division rivals' only postseason matchup was in a 1997 NFC divisional playoff, which the Packers won 21-7 at Green Bay.

KEYS TO THE GAME

The Bucs' best chance to be competitive is through a strong pass rush. Problem is, they have only 11 sacks on the season. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is expected to play, but his mobility could be hampered by injuries to both feet and he has been sacked 31 times already. Green Bay will attempt to stay out of obvious passing downs by hammering away at the league's 30th-ranked run defense. The Packers are solid against the run and will focus early on RB Cadillac Williams. The Bucs want to protect rookie QB Josh Freeman in his first career start, but he'll have to stretch the field a bit to give Williams a fighting chance.

FAST FACTS

Rogers has five consecutive games with a 100-plus passer rating. ... Freeman was the 17th overall pick last April.

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