Ready for some(preseason) football?! The NFL (pre)season kicks off tonight with 5 exhibition games. Like I said yesterday, lets celebrate the coming of football with this new edition. Because our Chicago Bears play in the NFC North, we will start of this edition with the NFC North. Here we go:
NFC North 2010 Standings:
Chicago Bears 11-5 (Division Champion)
Green Bay Packers 10-6 (Wid Card)
Detroit Lions 6-10
Minnesota Vikings 6-10
Chicago Bears: 2010 Season Result: Lost in NFC Championship Game
Overview: Coming off a run to the NFC title game and an NFC North division title, the Bears were busy during the offseason. They made some key moves to their 30th ranked offense as they enter year 2 of the Mike Martz era. They gave quarterback Jay Cutler a much needed big target by acquiring Roy Williams. Williams is coming off a couple of disappointing seasons in Dallas, but he was one of the league's best recievers when he played in Martz's offense back in Detroit. Along with speedsters Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, Cutler now has plenty of targets to throw to. The Bears added depth to their backfield by signing Marion Barber to complement starter Matt Forte. The biggest question of offense is the offensive line which gave up a league-worst 56 sacks last season. The Bears drafted T Gabe Carimi, but also lost veteran C Olin Kreutz. The Bears defense ranked in the top 5 in many categories. Pro Bowl DE Julius Peppers had a big year in his first season with the Bears and DE Israel Idonije(8.0 sacks) had a braekout year. The Bears re-signed run-stopper Anthony Adams and still have arguably the best LB duo in the NFL in Pro Bowlers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. CB Charles Tillman and safeties Major Wright and Chris Harris anchor a tough secondary.
Analysis: If the offense improves, another deep playoff run isn't impossible.
Green Bay Packers: 2010 Season Result: Super Bowl Champion
Overview: After a questionable regular season, the Packers turned is around in the playoffs and took home the title despite having 16 players on injured reserve. The defending champs were quiet during the offseason, losing a couple of key defensive players in DE Cullen Jenkins and LB Nick Barnett. But they still have a strong front 7 with NT B.J. Raji, Pro Bowl LB Clay Matthews(13.5 sacks) and young LBs A.J. Hawk and Desmond Bishop. Green Bay also has a strong secondary with CBs Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, and Sam Shields. Woodson is a concern though. The 2009 DPOY is 34 years old and suffered a broken collarbone in the Super Bowl, but he is expected to be ready for the regular season. On offense, Super Bowl MVP-QB Aaron Rodgers leads a strong aerial attack with WRs Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones, Jordy Nelson, and TE Jermichael Finley, who is healthy after sustaining a season-ending knee injury last season. If RB Ryan Grant, who missed almost the entire 2010 season due to an ankle injury, can open up the running game, and the offensive line steps up, the Packers offense can take the next step.
Analysis: Repeating as champs is always tough but if the Pack stays healthy, they can do it again.
Detroit Lions: 2010 Season Result: Missed Playoffs
Overview: Expectations are soaring for the team that went winless two years ago after the Lions won 4 straight games to end the season. However, QB Matthew Stafford must stay healthy. The Number 1 overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft has played in just 13 games in 2 seasons and played in just 3 last season due to shoulder injuries. When Stafford has played, he has developed a strong chemistry with star WR Calvin Johnson and underrated TE Brandon Pettigrew. The Lions lack a solid #2 option opposite Johnson. Detroit lost rookie RB Mikel Leshoure for the season because of a torn ACL, meaning the incumbent but explosive second year back Jahvid Best must step up. On defense, the Lions boast one of the League's best D-lines. Pro Bowl DT Ndamukong Suh will be joined by first round pick NT Nick Fairley to give the Lions the best DT duo in the league. On the outside are DEs Kyle Vanden Bosch and the underrated Cliff Avril. Detroit upgraded its weak crop of LBs by signing Justin Durant and Stephen Tulloch. They also upgraded the secondary by signing CB Eric Wright and re-signing CB Chris Houston.
Analysis: The Lions are building a strong foundation. If the offense stays healthy and the defense lives up to expectations, the Lions can start a playoff push as early as this year.
Minnesota Vikings: 2010 Season Result: Missed Playoffs
Overview: After a dream season in 2009, the Vikings fell to the division cellar last season mainly because QB Brett Favre was terrible. This offseason, Favre decided to retire-finally- so the Vikes drafted QB Christian Ponder from Florida State. But the lockout hurt his preparation, so the Vikings decided to trade for veteran Donavon McNabb. McNabb is a former Pro Bowler, but he is coming off a bad season in Washington. Sidney Rice left the team in free agency, leaving dual-threat-and injury prone-WR Percy Harvin and TE Visante Shianco as the only proven pass-catchers. The one sure thing on offense is superstar RB Adrian Peterson. On defense, Minnesota still has star DE Jared Allen, but they lost his complement, Ray Edwards, in free agency and their inside duo of Kevin Williams and Pat Williams is aging. The secondary in thin. The only proven CB, Cedric Griffin, had two knee surgeries in the last year, including a season-ending injury he sustained early last season.
Analysis: The Vikings still have talent. But if their veteran players don't step up and they are hit with injuries, they will finish in last again.
And now you fans get to vote:
Who will win the NFC North?
Chicago Bears (128 votes)
Green Bay Packers (87 votes)
Detroit Lions (24 votes)
Minnesota Vikings (3 votes)
242 total votes