A look around the NFL while hoping for a schism-free weekend for you and yours …
The Packers have looked very good this preseason. How good?
Good enough that Tom Modrak, Bills VP of college scouting, went out on a limb and called them the team to beat in the NFC North this year.
“It’s too soon, and I’ll regret saying this because it happens every year … but this has got to be the team to beat in that division,” Modrak told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel during halftime of last Saturday’s Bills-Packers game at Lambeau. “Now three weeks from now I guess I could change my mind, but at this moment, I’m thinking, `Who’s better?’ I know Minnesota has done some things on offense, but …”
This is only the second time this decade that the Packers have started 2-0 in the preseason. The other time was 2007 when they went 13-3 and made the NFC title game.
Modrak also praised the Packers for switching to the 3-4 defense this year.
“In the 3-4, you’re always attacking,” he said. “It’s an attack defense, and it’s good.”
The Packers very well could win the NFC North. Heck, the way the NFL is, even Detroit can’t be eliminated just yet. But to call the Packers the team to beat is probably a stretch.
The Vikings won the division last year and look better now than they did then. So I’d put the pressure right smack dab on the Vikings to win this thing again.
Elsewhere in the league …
. In New Orleans, RB Mike Bell seems to be reviving his once-promising career. He had 100 yards on 10 carries last week and admitted that he had gotten too cocky, which resulted in his career tumbling off the radar and out of Denver.
“I had to go through (being released) because my head was too high in the clouds,” he said. “I probably couldn’t even fit in the door.”
. In Seattle, coach Jim Mora refuted an NFL.com report that cited league sources saying LT Walter Jones’ knee injury could be season-ending. The Seahawks are counting on him returning fairly soon. Of the national online report, Mora said, “That’s just some guy who decides he wants to throw it out there and see if it sticks.”
. In Houston, where the Vikings will play a preaseason game on Monday night, it’s looking more and more like DT Shaun Cody is taking a starting job from Amobi Okoye, the 10th overall pick in 2007. Cody, the former Lion, signed as a free agent this offseason.
. Also in Houston, one of the best stories few people know about is Texans LG Chester Pitts. The Texans have been around since 2002. In their seven-year existence, the Texans have had the same starting left guard. In fact, Pitts has missed only one offensive series in the team’s history. Pitts is back practicing after undergoing elbow surgery during the offseason. He missed the first two preseason games, but will be starting against the Vikings on Monday.
. And in Cleveland, where the Vikings will open the regular season on Sept. 13, the Browns celebrated – well, not really — the 30th birthday of RB Jamal Lewis. Traditionally, the big 3-OH is the most dreaded of all birthdays for NFL running backs. It’s basically the brick wall of their careers, if they make it that far. “Now, I’m actually 30, not 29 or 28,” Lewis said. “And I still feel like I did yesterday.”
Although Browns sixth-round draft pick James Davis has been a preseason surprise and a lot faster than Lewis, coach Eric Mangini will use Lewis as his feature back. “I don’t have an age bias,” Mangini said.
Mangini was with the Patriots in 2004 when 30-year-old Corey Dillon had 1,635 yards and 12 TDs for the Super Bowl champions. And last year, Mangini was head coach of the Jets when 30-year-old Thomas Jones had an AFC-best 1,312 yards and 12 TDs.
. And one Did You Know?:
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the only person in NFL history to work 20 or more seasons as an assistant coach and 15 or more seasons as a head coach.