It seems that on b/r the new trend is to make a series of articles. Being in a minor rut myself I came to the conclusion that this was the thing to do, after all it's hip.
I'll start off this 8 part mini-series with the only Division I feel comfortable talking about with any authority whatsoever. The NFC North. Ahh the black and blue division, how I do love you.
In recent years the NFC North has been one of the weaker divisions in the NFL. The 2008-2009 season runs the liability of having an even weaker NFC North though, and to that I attribute the retirement of Brett Favre.
The Packers with Favre would have been a huge favorite to win the division and be a Super Bowl contender next year. But now the Favre-less Packers, much like a decapitated chicken, leave you wondering how exactly things will turn out. This has left, in my opinion, all of the teams as contenders to win the division and I wouldn't be surprised to see any of them come out on top.
My Pick? The Green Bay Packers, now before you accuse me of just being a completely biased and delusional Cheesehead let me clarify that this pick wasn't based just on team loyalty.
When you break it down, "Da Bears Still Suck," the Vikings can't throw the ball, and the Lions are still just the Lions. The Packers on the other hand have: one of the youngest teams in the league, a solid defense ( I hate to say it, but our defense isn't as good as the media tends to think it is,) a potentially explosive running game, a young offensive line with 2 great offensive tackles, and enough talent at wide reciever and tight end to help a young Aaron Rodgers.
Being realistic I pick the Packers to be anywhere from 7-9 to 12-4. My guess is that Aaron Rodgers will be good enough to manage the game and make some plays when necessary. On the flip side though he will make some mistakes, but the Packers just might be talented enough to survive the growing pains and take the pressure off of their young QB. If so, then I predict the Packers go 9-7 or 10-6 and win the division (I don't think it'll actually take a better record than that to win the North.)
If the Packers end up being kaput though, my second choice would have to be the Minnesota Vikings (the team I hate the most...ever.) I base my reasoning on the Viking's 8-8 record last year, and the genuine push that they made for the playoffs at the end of last year. Having Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor doesn't exactly hurt your odds either. Despite my criticism that the Vikings can't pass the ball, I feel that Tavaris Jackson could turn out to be a decent NFL QB (then again I was wrong on Rex Grossman and Joey Harrington) and the recieving corps looks interesting with Berrian and Rice.
Rounding out the NFC NORTH I would put the Lions and then the Bears. The Lions looked stellar at the beginning of last year, starting off 6-2, and then sadly had to disappoint their fans by going 1-7 down the stretch. Jon Kitna is a very solid QB, and their is talent at WR but the biggest question mark is the Lions running game. If they Lions can run the ball and keep Kitna off his back, we could be looking at a top 10 offense. I don't know a whole lot about the Detroit defense, but if the Lions play like they did in the first half of 2007 they could definitely win the division.
Finally the Bears: if Rex Grossman plays like he did in the first half of 2006 (and doesn't suffer a Kerry Wood-esque injury,) and the defense gets back to form, and Devin Hester keeps being...well Devin Hester then the Bears may go back to being the team that made a run to the Super Bowl not too long ago. I don't mind Lovie Smith, but I really would like to see the Bears go back to their old losing form.
Well that's my take on it, if I'm a flagrant idiot I'm sure you'll all let me know.