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NFC North
Prediction:
  1. Packers – Win Division
  2. Vikings
  3. Bears
  4. Lions
Green Bay Packers
Key Players – QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Ryan Grant, WR Greg Jennings, WR Donald Driver, CB Charles Woodson
Breakout Player – NT B.J. Raji
After falling short of winning the division last year, the Packers return with a vengeance this season. Aaron Rogers continues to develop into an elite quarterback capable of putting up mind-boggling numbers. The Packers picked up several new offensive linemen during the off season; the added protection will ensure Rogers’ uniform stays clean, while giving him a few seconds longer to make a big play. Wide receivers Greg Jennings and Donald Driver comprise one of the best WR tandems in the league. With a balanced running game in Ryan Grant, the Packer’s offense is almost unstoppable. The Packers switched to a 3-4 defensive scheme last season, and year 2 in the system should go much smoother. Sophomore B.J. Raji remains slated as the starting nose-tackle, after showing some real force to collapse the middle in his rookie season. The defense ranks in the top of the league, however certain flaws with their pass coverage were exposed in last year’s playoffs. Defesive-back Al Harris returns to start the season healthy, looking to lock that weakness down. The Packers were swept by the Vikings last season, however MBC predicts they are looking to battle back for the division. With many strong playoff teams in the NFC, the Packers are going to make some serious noise if they are ready to be a championship team.
Minnesota Vikings
Key Players – QB Brett Favre, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Sidney Rice, WR Percy Harvin, DE Jared Allen, CB Antoine Winfield
Breakout Player – TE Visanthe Shiancoe
Brett Favre ends his retirement again to return to the Vikings for “one more season”; however the 40 year-old QB seems to be the only healthy player on the offense. WR Sidney Rice has been sidelined for the first half of the season due to injury, and WR Percy Harvin it still dealing with migraines. Suddenly the strong Vikings receiving core from last season has been reduced to a bunch of unknowns. The main returning target, TE Visanthe Shiancoe, will be relied on for the bulk of 3rd down and crucial plays. Adrian Peterson continues to dominate the league as one of the elite running backs, however questions still remain about his ability to stop fumbling. With all the question marks on this offense MBC believes the Vikings will struggle more than last season, yielding their former Division Crown to the Packers. All is not lost, as the strong and nasty modern Purple People Eater defense remains a strength for this team. If the Vikings have some growing pains on offense, look for them to rely heavily on their defense to keep them in the game. Last Note: MBC knows despite 19 seasons of consecutive starts, Brett Favre’s health has to break down at some point. This unpredictable fact is the Achilles Heel to the Vikings 2010 Season.
Chicago Bears
Key Players – QB Jay Cutler, TE Greg Olsen, RB Matt Forte, DE Julius Peppers, LB Brian Urlacher
Breakout Player – RB Chester Taylor
MBC loves Jay Cutler. Why? Well, who doesn’t like watching some hotshot young QB throw absurd interceptions every game and then whine about it because he thinks he is the straight jam? The Bears bet huge last season trading for Cutler, and so far that move has failed horribly. This off-season, the franchise has scrambled to do whatever it can to win right now. They were the Yankees of the bland free-agency period, dealing out huge contracts to DE Julius Peppers, RB Chester Taylor, and several other role players. MBC believes the hiring of Mike Martz as offensive coordinator is a huge plus, however the first year in a new system can be rough, especially when you’re talking about Martz’s complex timing/blocking style. The preseason is evidence of these inevitable growing pains, as the Bear’s offense has sputtered and died on almost every 1st team drive. RB Chester Taylor might get the bulk of the carries because Matt Forte looked terrible last season after a stellar rookie campaign. Even the defense, which should be dominant with Peppers and the healthy return of Brian Urlacher, has looked pedestrian at best. The Bears need to find success now, however it appears that too much change is going on in Chicago for them to actually focus on winning.
Detroit Lions
Key Players – QB Matthew Stafford, WR Calvin Johnson, TE Brandon Pettigrew, FS Louis Delmas, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch
Breakout Player – DT Ndamukong Suh
Detroit has high hopes for their new look Lions team. Head Coach Jim Schwartz has injected some talented young players to revive energy in this dormant team. Matthew Stafford had a rocky rookie (An ice cream flavor name in Colorado MBC believes) season; however before injuring his shoulder, Stafford showed quality potential as the future leader of the team. The Lions already have serious offensive threats in Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew. Throw in rookie Jahvid Best, a lightning homerun tailback, and the Lion’s offense aims to generate some serious excitement. On the other side of the ball, the Lions pieced together a nasty defensive line. Acquiring former Tennessee Titan Kyle Vanden Bosch establishes a strong veteran leader to anchor this line, as second-overall pick Ndamukong Suh wrecks havoc in the middle. Free safety Louis Delmas represents the only hope in the Lions’ depleted secondary. The cornerback situation has not been addressed yet, which will come back to bite the Lions when the other 3 elite NFC North quarterbacks shred their poor coverage. The defensive line is the strength of the defense, and must work hard to make up for the lack of talent in the secondary. Overall the Lions seem headed in the right direction for a completely rebuilt team, but this season they still won’t be ready to climb the NFL ranks.
– Mothball
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