NFC North: Bears vs Vikings vs Packers vs ...sigh... Lions

Brian LauvrayContributor IMay 22, 2009

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 28: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers awaits the snap from George Foster #72 during a game against the Detroit Lions on December 28, 2008 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Lions 31-21.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Bears have been decent for nearly a decade, back-to-back division titles in '05 and '06 ameliorating the debacles of the Jauron-era and, of course, there was that whole Rex Grossman?!? led NFC Championship back in 2006 as well.

But since the Super Bowl run, Chicago has merely flirted with playoff berths/division titles leaving fans with broken dreams, tears, frowny face emoticons on message boards, et cetera.

Two years ago it was a resurgent Brett Favre slicing apart the NFC North's collective secondary that led the Packers to the division crown; and last year it was Purple Jesus and the vicious Minnesota Viking defense that kept the Bears in a headlock all season long.

Hope may spring eternal, but the Bears need more than Jay Cutler if they want to keep up with the Jones' of the NFC North. Here's Why:

Minnesota Vikings

Starting with the champs of the North, the Vikings have reloaded with their draft picks, hauling in particle accelerator/multi-position threat, Percy Harvin in the first round. This sole addition to the Vikes O makes them very dangerous; can anyone say "Wild Viking" formation, with AP and Harvin in the backfield? Bad News, Bears.*

The defense remains "boa constrictor strangle good," and well, the only real question mark that could keep the Vikings from repeating is: who will be screwing up from behind center?

Minnesota's two "legit" QB options (Ain't tryin' to hear the Favre rumors, see) are Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson, which is akin to picking revolver over arsenic in a "method of suicide" game.

Jackson will kill you with one quick blast of interceptions, while Rosenfels will slowly poison you with flubbed hand offs, fumbles and interceptions. Okay, they're both just suicide. Bad metaphor. Moving on...

Green Bay Packers

The Packers employed a not-so-effective "screen door left wide open" defense last season, surrendering 380 points on the year; and immediately made amends by drafting freak 'o nature/defensive tackle, BJ Raji and linebacker Clay Matthews in the first round. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, the regime change from Favre to Rodgers went swimmingly.

Aaron Rodgers was everything a Green Bay fan could ask for,** statistically, dude was a stud: throwing 28 TDs to 13 picks and finshing sixth in passer rating behind names like, Manning, Brees, Warner, Pennington, and Rivers.

Still if Green Bay's defense does not improve, 8-8 is about all fans of the green and gold should expect, which is probably going to get Green Bay a "solid" third place in the division.

Detroit Lions

It's been a rough decade for Detroit. Sure, the Red Wings are still in the hunt for Lord Stanley's Cup, but, uhh, the Lions? GM? Chrysler? Kwame Kilpatrick??? Fortunately, the Lions have all new logos and uniforms!***

This team is seriously floundering; the defense was awful, the running game is non-existent, pass protection hasn't been "good" since the Clinton administration. The receiving corps is pretty good with Calvin Johnson a constant threat to defensive coordinator jobs everywhere; and that's really where the good news stops.

If rookie quarterback, Matt Stafford has time to get the ball to Megatron, touchdown!, but sadly, there will not be nearly enough of those to keep the Lions in more than a few games. Not 0-16, but they'll consider 5-11 a great step. 

*Hey! A pun!

**Except for not wearing No. 4 and being named "Brett."

***See, it was the old and busted logos that led the Lions to go 0-Season last year.


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