The Chicago Bears made headlines this summer by trading for one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the league.
The Detroit Lions made headlines every time they signed a free agent because no one could believe anyone would willingly play for that franchise, no matter how many millions of dollars they'd be paid.
The Minnesota Vikings made headlines this summer by trading for a quarterback, adding a potential game-breaking rookie, and did I see something about Don Majkowski? Oh, it's a different former Packers quarterback? Ok, sorry, I hadn't heard.
In fact, the final team in the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers, have barely been involved in a headline that didn't also involve what's-his-name.
The point? That's just fine.
Whether Brett Favre is in purple or jeans, Green Bay has the best offense in the division by a landslide. Sure, the Vikings have Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor, but that offensive line is inconsistent and I wouldn't trust those receivers to catch a cold if they were naked in a Minnesota winter.
The Lions offense is in absolute shambles outside of Calvin Johnson, who just might be the most purely talented player in the division (and I'm including AP in that discussion). Unfortunately for him, there's no running game, a porous offensive line, and whether it's Culpepper or Stafford, the quarterback play will be rough.
Jay Cutler changes conferences for Chicago, and that makes the backfield in the Windy City awfully scary, but you can't throw to Devin Hester on a go-route every play. Greg Olsen is a capable option, but explosive? Hardly.
Green Bay has the best player at the most important position in football regardless of who is under center in Minneapolis. Aaron Rodgers should be even better this year with a healthy stable of receivers, two talented tight ends, and a deep backfield.
As good as the offense was last year in A-Rod's first season (and it was good; they finished fifth in the league in points and eighth in both yards and passing), Greg Jennings is poised for a Pro Bowl season after getting a fat contract this summer, while Donald Driver continues to dip into the fountain of youth. Add in a healthy James Jones, and an experienced Jordy Nelson, and Green Bay again boasts one of the deepest, most talented receiving groups in football.
That brings us to other reason the Packers made news this offseason—the defense. Much has been written about the 3-4 defense, but ultimately, that change is overrated.
The NFL, like every professional sports league, is talent-driven. If you have the most talent and get a little lucky, you're going to win, and you're going to win a lot. The Packers have the best tandem of corners in the division, even at an advanced age. Add play-making nickel back Tramon Williams, and Pro-Bowler Nick Collins, and their secondary is as good as any in the NFC.
True enough, the linebackers are an enigma. The North is stacked with quality linebackers and even though the Packers will now play with four instead of three, it's unclear what kind of an impact that will have on what has lately been a pathetic pass-rush.
The good news is that the other defenses in the league truly aren't that much better, particularly against Green Bay. In fact, the Packers outscored the division 184-116 last season on their way to a 4-2 record in the North.
The Lions aren't really even worth mentioning because despite some cosmetic changes, the foundation of the Lions is shakier than...well, every other business in Detroit.
Minnesota's defense played extremely well last season, but they certainly overachieved (not to mention, they could never stop the Packers, giving up 24 or more points in both meetings). Now, they may lose their "Williams wall" for the first four games of the year, which does include a visit from a certain nextdoor neighbor to the East.
Chicago's defense has the best rep, at least recently, but their play-makers are getting older, and it remains to be seen how often they'll be defending a short field given their new quarterback's tendency to throw it to the opponent (only that Favre guy threw more to the wrong-colored jerseys in '08).
No, Green Bay didn't make any sexy moves in the offseason by bringing in a big-name player. They have big-name players at every key position, and even with the switch to the 3-4, having a serviceable defense that can get an important stop half the time is worth an extra 2-3 wins.
Add in a clean bill of health, and a little luck, and it looks like the Pack will be poised to grab headlines in 2009.