2010 NFL Predictions: Ranking the NFC North Offenses
In 2009, the NFC North featured two of the most explosive offenses in the NFL last season in the Green Bay Packers and the Minnesota Vikings.
Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers proved that they have an elite offense.
Aaron Rodgers looks to be an early 2010 MVP favorite. Running back Ryan Grant is underrated and will look to continue his last season success.
With Brett Favre leading the offense in Minnesota, the Vikings had the second highest scoring offense in the NFL.
Add in running back Adrian Peterson and you have a scary offense.
The other two teams, the Chicago Bears and the Detroit Lions, made good strides offensively.
With Jay Cutler cemented in just his second year in Chicago, he'll look to improve what has been a historically terrible passing offense.
I don't expect the drought to last much longer though. I also expect Matt Forte to bounce back after a less than stellar sophomore campaign.
In Detroit, the Lions are filled with extremely talented players like Calvin Johnson, Jahvid Best, Matthew Stafford, and Brandon Pettigrew.
They can only get better with experience. They could become favorites to win the NFC North in a couple of years with the players they have.
We'll go position by position and rank each team.
1) Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers
2) Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre
3) Chicago Bears: Jay Cutler
4) Detroit Lions: Matthew Stafford
This division has some good quarterbacks, three of which are previous 4,000 yard passers.
Aaron Rodgers gets the nod at number one due to his ability to run and pass. With his accuracy, he's a defensive coordinator's worst enemy. Add in his ability to scramble and he's a defensive coordinators worst nightmare.
Favre had his best season statistically in 2009, but it's hard to believe he can duplicate that success. He's the ageless wonder, but seriously, the guy has to start declining, right? So the story continues...
Cutler is still young and with a new offensive coordinator, things are looking up. With the emergence of some talented receivers, Cutler could be a force this season. The only thing stopping him is a terrible offensive line.
Stafford is just in his second season. I expect him to be an elite quarterback in the future, but it's not quite time yet. With the other quarterbacks in the division, it's definitely not a bad thing to be the "worst" of the four.
1) Minnesota Vikings: Adrian Peterson (Toby Gerhart)
2) Green Bay Packers: Ryan Grant (Brandon Jackson)
3) Chicago Bears: Matt Forte (Chestor Taylor)
4) Detroit Lions: Kevin Smith (Jahvid Best)
Despite his fumbling issues, Peterson is still one of best backs in the NFL.
His offensive line let him down as Peterson was hit at or behind the line of scrimmage 28 percent of the time.
Throw in the rightful winner of the Heisman Award in Toby Gerhart and you have a great combination.
Grant had been loved, cursed, liked, hated, and adored all in about a 30 minute span. The guy is underrated. That's a fact. Here's another: We could make a legit case for him to be No. 1.
With Brandon Jackson helping carry the load, the Packers have a dynamic rushing attack that doesn't get utilized enough.
Forte hit a sophomore slump, so Bears grabbed Taylor to help him regain his ways. Taylor was a great third-down back for the Vikings, so it only hurts that much more that he's going to a divisional rival.
The two should form a great running/catching duo that is going to give coordinaters headaches in the future.
Smith was the man in Detroit, then injuries settled in. The Lions then traded to get into the first round of the draft to grab Jahvid Best whom many considered the most explosive running back in this year's class.
The two will rely on each other, but I think Best will take over the starting job very early in the season.
1) Minnesota Vikings: Rice, Harvin, and Berrian
2) Green Bay Packers: Jennings, Driver, and Jones
3) Detroit Lions: C. Johnson, Burleson, and B. Johnson
4) Chicago Bears: Hester, Bennett, and Knox
This will cause controversy. If you ask a Vikings fan, the Vikings have the best in the north. If you ask a Packers fan, the Packers have the best.
Sidney Rice exploded last season to lead the Vikings receiving corps that came out of nowhere. Add in Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian and you have a talented receiving corps.
Greg Jennings had a down year, but I wouldn't look into it too much. The guy is too talented to have another. Donald Driver is coming off of double-knee surgery, so it's hard to tell where he'll be in 2010. The Packers third spot is open between James Jones and Jordy Nelson. However, the slight nod goes to Jones.
Calvin Johnson just needs a quarterback. He finally has one...we hope. With Burleson joining him in free agency, the Lions have two receivers that will command respect. The only problem is, who is their number three option?
The Bears have a ton of good receivers, but none that are considered great. You have Hester, Bennett, Knox, and Aromashodu, all of which could lead the team in receptions next season. The corps hasn't proven anything.
However, speed thrives in the NFL and the Bears have the most in that department in the NFL.
1) Green Bay Packers: Finley and Lee
2) Detroit Lions: Pettigrew and Scheffler
3) Chicago Bears: Olsen and Clark
4) Minnesota Vikings: Shiancoe and Kleinsasser
Jermichael Finley had a great sophomore year in the NFL and looks like the real deal. He can catch and block which is becoming rare in today's NFL. Donald Lee is getting older, but he still has reliable hands and decent blocking skills.
This may surprise some, but Pettigrew played extremely well before getting injured. The Lions then went out and grabbed Tony Scheffler from the Broncos. Scheffler is a fantastic catching end.
He wasn't utilized in Denver, but when he did play, he produced well.
The Bears expected a lot from Olsen in 2009. He rewarded them with 60 receptions and eight touchdowns. Those are great numbers, but the reason the Bears are third here is because of their new coordinator, Mike Martz, who doesn't like tight ends.
It's a shame too because Olsen is very talented.
The Vikings have probably the most underrated tight end in the NFL in Visanthe Shiancoe. He has been among the best tight ends in terms of touchdown receptions the last two seasons. However, no one ever mentions his name.
The Vikings don't have depth here which knocks them down the list.
1) Green Bay Packers
2) Minnesota Vikings
3) Detroit Lions
4) Chicago Bears
It's a cold day in you know where when the Packers have the best line in the division after the season they just had. However, they played great in the second half.
The addition of Bryan Bulaga helps the depth, but he probably won't start right away. When Mark Tauscher was resigned, the line got better.
The Vikings have historically had a great offensive line. However, they played terrible in 2009. With Hutchinson injured and two first-year starters, it was doomed from the start of the season. However, look for them to regain their dominant form, or at least a decent form.
Also, don't talk about McKinnie being a Pro Bowl player. I'll simply laugh along with the rest of Viking nation.
The Lions had a terrible offensive line, but grabbed the steady Rob Sims from Seattle in a move that will hopefully solidify the right side of the line. I don't believe Backus is a Pro Bowl player like Jim Schwartz thinks, but he played better than any other right tackle in the division for a good portion of the season.
The Bears have two good lineman in Chris Williams and Olin Kreutz, but if you can name another starting offensive lineman, you're obviously a Bears fan.
They needed to upgrade the position and failed to do so this offseason. Let's hope things go better for Cutler's sake.
It's going to be an exciting year in the NFC North.
I have a man-crush on Detroit's general manager, Martin Mayhew for the last two offseasons he has been able to put together.
The Lions should be a force in the near future.
It's now or never for the Vikings. The team is ready now, unless they can nab a franchise quarterback after Favre retires.
The Packers are still young and have many years of being competitive. As long as Aaron Rodgers wears a Packers uniform, they are contenders.
The Bears are trying to do what they can, but it's hard to move forward when you keep trading draft picks. Next season, the Bears will hopefully have a first round pick.
I hope you enjoyed the show. Feel free to express your opinions.