Can Mitch find magic vs. Lions?
Eyebrows were raised this week when Lions coach Matt Patricia called Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky — ranked 28th in passer rating and riding a three-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions at Soldier Field — a “great” player. But Patricia’s Lions have faced young Mitch only one time. A year ago Monday, they lost 34-22 as Trubisky completed 76.7% of his passes for 355 yards, three TDs, no interceptions and a 148.6 passer rating.
Don’t count Tomlin, Steelers out
The assumption that Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending elbow injury would cinch coach Mike Tomlin’s first losing record in 13 seasons might have been premature. The Steelers (4-4) host the Rams on Sunday in their third straight home game. Pittsburgh has won three straight while posting 13 takeaways and a plus-9 turnover ratio.
Can Packers pass two-game test?
The Chargers game in Los Angeles was supposed to be the Packers’ springboard into back-to-back games against the Panthers at home and the 49ers on the road next week. But the Chargers held the Packers to 184 total yards and 139 net passing yards. The Panthers visit Lambeau Field ranked ninth in pass defense (227.0), fourth in yards per attempt (6.05) and second in sacks per pass play (11.3%).
100 NFL SEASONS A LOOK BACK at 1961
Aug. 5, 1961: How in the world did the first preseason game in Vikings history end up being played at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls, S.D., on this date?
Well, it starts with Bob Burns, a legendary high school and small college coach in Sioux Falls. He was on a recruiting trip for Augustana College when he stopped by the 620 Club, a Minneapolis bar owned by Vikings owner Max Winter.
Burns overheard Winter talking about needing a neutral site venue for the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Winter ended up accepting a $40,000 offer from Burns to play the game at Augustana College’s home field, located 197 miles west of Minneapolis.
Burns and his backers needed to sell 10,000 tickets to break even. But fans balked at the high ticket prices — $5.50 for the grandstand and $3.50 for the bleachers — and the sweltering 92-degree heat on game day.
So the Vikings’ first live game drew only 4,954 fans. The Cowboys, coming off an 0-11-1 expansion season, won 38-13.
But they weren’t thrilled with the venue. Told that Vikings coach Norm Van Brocklin had refused to split the stadium’s only locker room, Tom Landry and his Cowboys had to dress at the Cataract Hotel and bus to the game in full uniform.
UPSET OF THE WEEK
Tell the ’72 Miami Dolphins they’ll be popping their champagne corks on Monday night when Russell Wilson goes to San Francisco and adds to his MVP front-runner résumé with an upset of the league’s last unbeaten team. Wilson is coming off his third career five-touchdown game and is 11-3 vs. the 49ers.
Pick: Seahawks 23, 49ers 21. Last week: Bears 19, Eagles 16. Result: Eagles 22, Bears 14. Record: 3-6.