If you were forced to bet on which team would win the NFC North this year, you’d be sure to have a million different scenarios playing out in your head. Pound for pound, this division offers up the most talented quarterbacks in the league, three insanely solid defensive squads, and a 4x4 rivalry that’s not duplicated anywhere else in sports.
Although they might not be considered the greatest division in football, nary a team wants to face off against any NFC North opponent. Even Detroit could be a sleeping giant, and is known to pile on the points on any given Sunday. The Bears are also a knock-down, drag-out opponent no matter who they face. And when it comes to the Packers and Vikings, we’re talking about two of the league’s premier teams.
With the improvements of each team now, heading into the upcoming season, picking out the clear favorite is like besting a game of black jack on line – you might know a thing or two about how to play, but you never know what’s coming next.
After picking up Jay Cutler from Denver last year, the Bears thought they could finally get over their on-again, off-again style of underachievement by locking in the helm. But after Brian Urlacher’s injury took the wind of the defensive sails, and Culter’s interception extravaganza left Chicago unable to score when most needed, the Bears finished third in the division going a disappointing 7-9.
The coming 2010 season should see much improvement. Chicago picked up running back Chester Taylor. This move not only strengthens Chicago, but it weakens in-division rival Minnesota. The club also grabbed Julius Peppers from Carolina. Adding Brandon Manumaleuna to the mix at the tight end position, the Bears have plugged a few leaks. This move perfectly complements the Bears’ receiving core, with Hester, Bennett and Aromashodu.
Look for Chicago to compete for a playoff berth with a solid 11-5/10-6 record. It will come down to a single game for 2nd in the NFC North – the Packers or the Bears.
Unfortunately for Detroit fans, the Lions will undoubtedly finish at the bottom of the heap again. If you’re betting on the Lions, your money would be better spent at the best online casino. Ironically, you’d find better odds. Nevertheless, it’s not all doom and gloom. The team has actually improved slightly with Matthew Stafford, going into his second year, showing a lot of heart and skill.
Now that he’s had time to learn the system, he and Calvin Johnson should make for an exciting tandem. And with Kevin Smith and Jahvid Best in the backfield, the Lions have a potent sleeper on the offensive end.
With the addition of Ndamukong Suh on the defensive line, the Lions’ defense may improve. They also added some more talent around Jason Hunter, going for a QB-pressure, run-stopping system that will let Kyle Vanden Bosch shine. The secondary is still exploitable, however, and six of the Lions’ 16 games are against division rivals that simply out-talent the bunch.
The Lions will be improved. Look for a 6-10 record as their young players and coaches graduate the school of hard knocks.
Green Bay Packers
Two words should sum up the Packers’ season hopes: Aaron Rodgers. Yeah. Enough said. The Pack finished 11-5 last year and look to improve on that. Two of their five losses were against the uber-hated Vikings, and Green Bay certainly hopes to correct that.
The Packers haven’t made any big moves, per se, but their offensive starters are healthy again. This will give Rodgers the protection he needs to run the offensive and exploit defenses with his core of solid receivers. On the defensive side, Dom Capers’ scheme will ensure that talented veterans stay on top of things. But that doesn’t change the fact that Al Harris and Charles Woodson are old.
It’s going to be tough for the Packers with an improved division. They should hang in there around the 10/11-win mark, competing for 2nd in the division.
When Brett Favre isn’t playing no download slots casinos during the offseason in between surgeries, he’s on the field showing that “over the hill” players don’t deserve the negative stigma. And yes, regardless of what you think, Brett’s coming back to finish the job with the Vikings.
Minnesota is light a Chester Taylor, but AP is still going strong, and Favre has had a year’s worth of learning the system. Look what he did as a newbie. Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are incredibly strong players, and the Vikings’ offensive line has toned up nicely. On the defensive side, Minnesota grabbed Lito Sheppard from the Jets to tighten up their secondary – the only questionable group of the team. And Chris Cook out of Virginia should come along nicely.
The Vikings haven’t taken a step back at all. They’re hungry and ultra talented. They should again finish the season 12-4 and lock up that division en route to greater things.