2009 NFC North Preview: Lions, Packers, Vikings, and Bears—Oh My!
It doesn't matter if Brett Favre becomes a Minnesota Viking or not. The Vikings’ defense and running game carry this team, although there is room for improvement with their pass defense.
However, solid play from the quarterback position has been the only thing preventing the Vikings from being an elite team.
If the quarterback can get the ball to him, wide receiver and kick returner Percy Harvin has significant big-play potential. His presence may draw enough attention from defenders to open up other things for Minnesota’s offense.
Minnesota should finish first in the NFC North simply because they have the best rushing attack in this division and a defense that keeps them in ball games.
Like the Vikings, the Bears' strength lies in their rushing defense. In contrast, Chicago’s rushing offense is unimpressive.
Matt Forte may collect the carries, but he is not an explosive runner.
The Chicago Bears shocked the universe this off-season by trading two first-round picks to the Denver Broncos for quarterback Jay Cutler. Cutler brings confidence and a Pro Bowl resume to the Windy City, where the Bears have lacked an offensive star for years.
Is Cutler good enough to quickly transform this team into a playoff team? Probably not, as the Bears face a schedule with seven games against 2008 playoff teams.
Switching to a 3-4 defense may not be the simplest transition for the Packers this upcoming season. Therefore, the switch may not help much in 2009. Green Bay plays the bottom three teams in the NFL — Cleveland, St. Louis, and Detroit — four times.
Aaron Rodgers proved to be a competent NFL quarterback who can start all 16 games. He has some great weapons with Green Bay and works within an effective system.
Greg Jennings has quietly emerged as one of the best wide receivers in the league, averaging 59 catches for 949 yards (that is 16.0 yards-per-reception) in his first three years in the league.
Running back Ryan Grant had a disappointing 2008 performance after an impressive 2007 production. Which Grant will show up in 2009?
Following an 0-16 season, the Detroit Lions are starting over and have nowhere to go but up. With a new front office, coaching staff, and face of the franchise, expect the Lions to win a few games this year.
Is Matthew Stafford their answer? It’s difficult to tell since he does not have a good offensive line.
However, as a Georgia Bulldogs fan who witnessed Stafford for three collegiate seasons, I will be surprised if he has a successful NFL career.
At UGA, Stafford had a tendency to force passes into double-coverage and for the most part, did not play well against the SEC’s best defenses.
Stafford has the classic NFL quarterback style and a strong arm, but he will need to learn to read NFL defenses and quickly go through his progressions.
Passing accuracy, not arm strength, is what is required to win the National Football League. However, I do hope that Stafford proves me wrong and does well in Detroit.
If Stafford is smart, his favorite target will be talented wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Detroit’s defense will improve. The Lions' defense in 2008 was historically terrible, allowing a league worst 8.82 yards-per-pass-attempt and a NFL worst 5.1 yards-per-rush.
Quote of the Day:
Life is hard. It’s even harder if you’re stupid.
Hebrews 12:1 “[God Disciplines His Sons] Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
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