By: Zack Garhart
The NFC North will be the best division in the National Football League, leaving the AFC East and their reputation on the back burner. I’m not saying that the AFC East will not be a playoff hogging division, but the NFC North is crowded with teams that have made the necessary acquisitions in the offseason that once prevented them from emerging as a dominant conference.
Highly regarded-not for his attitude-Jay Cutler finally fits into a blue and orange color scheme team in Chicago after pouting his way out of Denver. His Bears are typically a frightening team on defense but lack fire power on offense, but with the selection of Matt Forte in the first round of last years draft and Greg Olson two years before that, Lovie Smith has found a quarterback to command his dangerous offense.
The quarterback talk in Chicago has Cutler feeling as if he may be the next NFC north legend since Brett Favre, but Favre has a chance to silence the rumors by seizing the conference as a Minnesota Viking and possibly crush Chicago’s hope for a deserved playoff run. Favre is in an identical situation as Cutler in Minnesota, as he finds himself stepping into the shoes of a smash mouth offense that has yet to find a dependable field general at quarterback. Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Sidney Rice are among the names that come into the picture when you are talking about talent that has yet to peak, and they are all weapons in the Vikings offense this season.
Yes I know that Favre pulled a typical “Favre move” by keeping his mouth shut in a serious situation when he forgot to tell the Vikings that he had a torn rotator cuff and recent bicep surgery. However, I think that if Favre senses that there is a possibility of returning to the playoffs, you may see him play all 16 games. Which is good news for the Packers aggressive and revenge seeking defense, but bad news for the Lions.
On the other hand, the Packers have the arguably the most dangerous quarterback in, not only their quarterback stacked division, but the entire National Football league. Aaron Rodgers is comfortably sitting in a pass heavy offense that is filled with emerging talent at the wide receiver position. Greg Jennings leads a receiver squad that would boost Rodgers’ chances of a possible MVP title. Although, the Packers aging offensive line unit needs to protect him this season because the team got rid of second year quarterback Brian Brohm, leaving Matt Flynn as the lone hope for a backup quarterback. The line needs to ensure that Rodgers doesn’t get as banged up as Big Ben on the Steelers. With a consistent and powerful attack on the ground, the arial assault of the Packers will create even more headaches for opposing defenses. Speaking of headaches, the new 3-4 system that Dom Capers installed in Green Bay is a learning experience that is a headache in and of itself. It will take some time to learn and put into full effect. If the Packers can overcome a learning curve that freezes some teams using the 3-4 defense, there is no doubt that they will win the conference.
I predict them going 12-4, while the Minnesota Vikings finish second at 10-6, Chicago is going to sputter into a third place position at 9-7, and the Lions will look to erase the 0 wins from their recent memory by going 3-13.