Saturday, August 27, 2011

NFC North: 2011 Outlook

The division will play the AFC West and NFC South; the AFC West is one of the more favorable draws from top to bottom, while the NFC South is a strong division overall. Similarly, last year the North played a tough division in the form of the NFC East, as well as a top-heavy division in the AFC East.

1 - Green Bay (13-3)
The Super Bowl Champs are back in 2011; the Packers figure to be better this year than they were last year. With the return of TE Jermichael Finley and RB Ryan Grant, Green Bay is poised for another deep Playoff run. Defense should remain among NFL's elite, and the Pack is hungry for NFC North Title after finishing 2nd last year. I think this is a huge year for Finley, watch for RB James Starks to become the feature back over Grant early in the year. Rodgers will have his best year yet.
2 - Detroit (9-7)
There are a lot of people drinking the Detroit Lions Kool-Aid heading into the 2011 season. Last year, the Lions narrowly lost to numerous good teams such as Chicago twice (though they basically won the 1st game: Calvin Johnson TD), Philadelphia, Green Bay (once), the New York Giants, and the New York Jets. I expect them to win some of these close games this year. Suh and that D-Line are downright scary. If team stays healthy, I see the Lions having their first winning season since 2000.
3 - Chicago (7-9)
In my personal opinion, their 11-5 record wasn't indicative of the quality of team they were. Chicago has one of the better Defenses in the NFC, behind veterans Peppers, Urlacher, and Briggs. However, while their Defense should be strong again, I'm not sure that I trust the Offense, namely the Quarterback. This is one of my bold predictions of the year as far as teams taking a step back in 2011; I don't see the Bears better than .5oo.
4 - Minnesota (6-10)
It looked for a while like the Vikings were prepared to roll with Rookie QB Christian Ponder as the team's starter. After acquiring Donovan McNabb from Washington, the Vikings appear to be in a more promising place for the upcoming season. I think Leslie Frazier utilizes Adrian Peterson better than Childress did, and he has a huge year individually. The team is good enough to beat some good teams, but just not a great team.

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