Nfl Preview, NFC North
I've clearly had some issues with time management lately, and I've fallen disastrously behind on my NFL Previews. They'll likely keep coming even after the season has started, but that just means better accuracy. Right? I'm hoping. In any event, this is the division that most of you readers will care about. And I've got bad news for all of you. It won't be any fun to watch.
Chicago Bears: The Bears remain the epitome of the old black and blue division that the NFC Central used to embody. I always worry about teams that transition from the two back offense to the one back. Hopefully for the Bears, Adrian Peterson the Lesser will be able to spell Cedric Benson and the offense will be just barely good enough to get them over the hump. The defense may be the best in the league, and will do it's part to put points on the board, even. The special teams give the Bears the edge in the division. That is assuming of course they don't let Lance Briggs drive the team bus.
Green Bay Packers: I find it hard to pick against a team that still has Brett Favre at quarterback. This season will be like the last, wherein Favre may have a rough start, but then catch fire for a few weeks and the Packers will go 7-9 or 8-8 and just barely miss the playoffs. The defense still isn't great, but it's improving and Vernand Morency is about the 27th best starting running back in the league. I still believe Favre can get it done in such a dismal division.
Detroit Lions: The Detroit Lions have the best offense in the NFC North even if Calvin Johnson is a complete bust. John Kitna has proven himself to be, if not a good quarterback, certainly one who is capable of succeeding if he has assets surrounding him. He was able to put up decent numbers with Mike Furrey as his leading receiver last year, for heavens sake! Kevin Jones is an underrated back, so defenses won't be able to key solely on the pass. I mean, if it weren't for the fact that Mike Martz was calling plays. The Lions are still working to patch holes on defense, so they may not be ready to make the leap, but it appears GM Matt Millen may have accidentally built himself a playoff team for next year.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings are the only team I'm certain won't be making the playoffs out of the NFC North. The other teams have a shot. The worse news is that the Vikings aren't so bad that they'll get a premier pick this year in the draft. The offense is going to be terrible. I'll come out and say it. Sure, they have two good running backs in Chester Taylor and Adrian Peterson the Greater, but their quarterback still hasn't won an NFL game, or, for that matter, an NCAA D-1 game. His receivers aren't very good. Travis Taylor is a good route runner but can't catch. Troy Williamson is fast but can't catch. They added a ton of other guys to try to catch that can't get open. How will Taylor and APTG get going if defenses can put 9 men in the box every single play? The teams secondary is among the best in the league, which is irrelevant because nobody needs to pass to get ahead or stay ahead against the vikings. The linebackers and ends are also subpar, meaning other teams will off-tackle the heck out of Minnesota, and they'll go ahead and go 6-10.
As I mentioned, there are 3 teams that could sneak into the playoffs out of this division. The games will all be ground out and fairly boring. Get ready for a ton of Ron Pitts called games.