NFC North Looking Stronger Than Normal for '09
The NFC North has been called alot of names lately.
Weak, powderpuff, no talent, and the worst division in the NFL.
While that may have been right a couple of years ago, it is no longer the "mo" of the division.
The biggest surprise, I think, of 2009 will be: the Detroit Lions.
I know what you are saying, of course they are going to be better than 0-16.
With the off season acquisitions of LB Julian Peterson, and Larry Foote they definitely are stronger at that position.
Though they have drafted QB Matthew Stafford, the offense will keep the team out of the playoffs, but wait a couple of years and the Lions could be a team to mess with.
So lets take a look at each teams major Free Agency and Draft pickups:
The Packers badly needed some linebackers, to help with the transition to the new 3-4 defense, and alot of speculation about what Ted Thompson would do was thrown around by many writers, including myself.
Major additions: DT B.J. Raji, LB Clay Matthews, OT T.J. Lang, and S Anthony Smith
Only two of these players are going to have an immediate impact on how well the team does in '09. Those two being Raji and Matthews. Smith is considered a great addition due to the fact that he has 3-4 experience, with a Steelers team that excels at running that scheme.
Major losses: DT Colin Cole, OT Mark Tauscher
Cole was definitely not worth the money he received from the Seahawks, so it wasn't a bad move in letting him go, but it sure would have been nice to have him as a depth player. Tauscher hasn't signed with anyone else yet, the reason why I put him on this list is, it doesn't look like the Packers are going to resign him as well.
Coming into the new season, the Vikings needed better wide receivers and a quarterback to throw to him. They addressed one of those issues, and tried to trade for the other, though they got an aged QB that tends to make bad decisions, just reference his start against the Colts last season.
Major additions: WR Percy Harvin, QB Sage Rosenfels, OT Phil Loadholt
Harvin is going to be a great player for the Vikings, maybe not this year but soon enough. To all Viking fans out there: don't think you have a new Randy Moss just yet, let him come into his own.
The trade for Rosenfels was needed, if anything just to give Tarvaris Jackson some competition during training camp. If they didn't make this traded too early, they would have had a better chance of getting Cutler instead of the Bears.
Major losses: S Darren Sharper, not extending Cedric Griffin
These are not major losses as far as that goes, Sharper is a great player with at least two more years left in the tank. The Saints are glad the Vikings let him go.
Like I said earlier in the article, the trade for Cutler was clutch. They now have their quarterback, just no receiver's to throw it to.
Major additions: QB Jay Cutler, OT Orlando Pace, S Josh Bullocks
Pace will help with the problem the offensive line had last year, protecting the quarterback. Cutler does the Bears no good laying on his back three or four times a game. The Bears can't rely on Matt Forte like they did last year, to be their only playmaker, coaches in the NFL are too smart and will key on him.
Major losses: Not having a draft pick until the 68th overall.
If the Bears wouldn't have spent so much on Cutler, they probably could have picked a good wide receiver to complement him this season. As it stands they have, Rashied Davis, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, and rookie Juaquin Iglesias. Not great by far, the depth at that spot could be what dooms the Bears in '09.
After firing Matt Millen, the Lions have finally picked a good player with the first overall in Matthew Stafford. The team has made some free agency moves this year as well, so don't expect a winless year for them in '09.
Major additions: QB Matthew Stafford, LB Julian Peterson, LB Larry Foote, TE Brandon Pettigrew, LB Deandre Levy.
The moves to fix the defense is the first step to redemption for the lowly team. First comes defense then comes the offense. Look for the Lions to be a competitor for the division in the next two years.
Major losses: there are none.
You can't say they lost anyone important from the first 0-16 team in NFL history. The whole defense, except Ernie Simms, should have been fired.
The Green Bay Packers look poised to win the division this year, with the team making the draft day move to pick up a linebacker. As long as the team can stay relatively healthy in '09, they will challenge Adrian Peterson for the title. I say Peterson, because he is the Vikings.
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