NFC North: Biggest Question Marks for each team..?
So the regular season is just one preseason game away. The rosters will be finalized on Saturday the 5th and each team in the NFC North will have one thing on their mind: winning.
I am going to break down the biggest question mark for each team as well as give a prediction for how they'll do.
Hate it or love it, I'm going to do my best at pointing out the main things these four teams will struggle with for the 2010 season.
Detroit Lions: Offense getting Offensive?
The Detroit Lions. Oh how I love to play these guys, as a Packer fan. I might be unlike the rest of you and actually believe in these not-so-cowardly lions.
They are a young offensive team looking to improve from a 2009 campaign where they won only two games. I actually think these Lions can improve to six wins throughout the 2010 season.
I believe the Lions' biggest question mark is their offense, mainly Matthew Stafford. Last year's No. 1 overall pick looks to embark on this sophomore season with one of the better receivers in the NFC.
Coming off an up-and-down season Stafford is looking to build off of his 13-touchdown performance a season ago.
With more experience and an injury-free season, Stafford could look to gather 20 or more touchdowns.
Along with Stafford, the Lions boast a couple young players who will be exciting to watch grow. Brandon Pettigrew, second-year TE, and Jahvid Best (rookie from Cal), are explosive players with large ceilings who could put up good enough numbers to satisfy the Detroit fans.
There is no question that Calvin Johnson will be Stafford's No. 1 go-to guy, however another receiver to keep an eye on will be Nate Burleson.
As much as I dislike Burleson (mainly for doing terribly in fantasy last year), he is a very savvy veteran who has been known to put together some decent seasons.
Basically with all of problems the Lions have, I think that if the offense can gain some much-needed experience and begin to "gel," the Detroit Lions might not be in the top five draft positions next year.
Honorable mention question mark: Defensive Line (new signings and draft choices)
Prediction: 4-12, fourth in NFC North
Chicago Bears: Urlacher the Defensive Cornerstone
Brian Urlacher, regarded as one of the most productive linebackers, is my big question mark for the Chicago Bears. Well, to be honest, I'm questioning whether he will be able to hold that defense together.
After losing Urlacher in the season opener vs. my Green Bay Packers, the Bears defense went on to be the breeding ground for quarterbacks and wideouts alike.
Opposing QBs posted a staggering 65% completion percentage and scored 29 touchdowns through the air. There is no question that the big-play threat was there week in and week out.
Without their supreme leader and cornerstone of their defense, the unit as a whole was crippled in Week 1.
Maybe with the return of the 5-time Pro Bowl linebacker and the addition of a Pro Bowl defensive end, the Bears defense can get back to their stingy ways.
Adding Julius Peppers to the mix really helps the secondary as long as the front four can get to the QB. The big play will not be as apparent and maybe QB's wont complete as many passes.
But who really knows? That is why I believe that the Chicago Bears' main question mark is their defense.
Honorable Mention Question Mark: Jay Cutler, touchdown machine or Red Zone INT King?
Prediction: 5-11, third in NFC North
Minnesota Vikings: Brett Favre and the Trio
Brett Favre and the Saga continues.
As much as I hate hate hate hate hate hate and hate talking about Brett Favre and his annoying ways, I believe the biggest question mark for the Vikings is him and his receivers.
Last season was an outrageous season for Favre and company coming an ill-advised pass away from the quarterback's third Super Bowl appearance.
The wide receivers played an immense part in the 2009 season and you'd think it wouldn't be a cause for concern this upcoming season.
With the loss of Sidney Rice, Favre's No. 1 target, is out for the first eight weeks, maybe, and Percy Harvin's head isn't on straight.
The production of the No. 1 receiver will have to come from someone else. Yeah, maybe Harvin can step in and become a legit ace for the wideouts, however he is a send in-motion-and-get-him-running type of receiver (slot).
The Vikings noticed this problem and have added a couple receivers to bolster their corps in Greg Camarillo and Javon Walker.
With Camarillo unproven and Walker not putting together a solid season since '04 and '06 with the Packers and Broncos, who really can tell how they'll do?
Being the extremely loyal Packer fan that I am, I hope that none of their receivers or Brett "Diva" Favre do well; however, I am a realist and understand that they'll probably find a way to win some games.
If the receivers and Brett "Diva" Favre can figure a way to fill in the holes left by Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin's recurring migraines, they'll be in pretty good shape, unfortunately.
Honorable Mention Question Mark: Secondary, a work in progress.
Prediction: 10-6, second in NFC North, Wildcard Berth
Green Bay Packers: Secondary is the No. 1 Issue
The Green Bay Packers are looking pretty slim in the Secondary for this upcoming season.
With it being announced today that both Al Harris and Atari Bigby will be on the PUP (Physically Unable to Preform) list they'll miss the first 6 games.
Those are some big blows for the Packers, only from the aspect that they really have no one better to take their place.
Morgan Burnett, starting strong safety in place of Bigby, is a rookie who has shown flashes of good plays in camp but is ultimately just learning Dom Capers' 3-4 defense.
The biggest question mark within the secondary come at the nickel and dime back positions. Competition in camp has been few and far between.
Will Blackmon and Pat Lee are both vying for the spot and are coming off season-long injuries in 2009. Rookie Sam Shields (undrafted free agent) is a serious contender for the 53-man roster as well as nickel back.
Shields is a recently converted cornerback at the "U" (Miami) and is learning the position day in and out. With veterans like Charles Woodson and Al Harris around, there is no doubt he is capable of becoming a solid player.
He saw some playing time with the No. 1 defense vs. the Colts last week and had compiled two interceptions this preseason.
I think the Packers have their work cut out for them when creating the ideal defensive backfield.
With Free Safety Nick Collins (1 Pro Bowl) and Cornerback Charles Woodson (Defensive MVP 2009), the defense will not be bad; however, it will be vulnerable to big plays, which the Packers, or any team for this matter, can afford.
Honorable Mention Question Mark: Offensive Line, Revolving Door or Fort Knox?
Prediction: 13-3, Super Bowl Champion!
Any Other Question Marks?
The NFC North will be a division that the top two teams can be in contention for the title after just six weeks.
With that being said, I believe the Vikings will lose in the first round of the playoffs, and the Packers will win the Super Bowl.
Problems? Haha. Remember that this prediction is coming from a born and bred Green Bay fan. Bleeding Green and Gold can have its advantages and disadvantages.
Disadvantages being a bias every year and eventually being let down at times (other than 1996) but I think we can all agree that it'll be a fun year to watch.
These Question Marks for each team are ones that I think will be targeted throughout the season and will ultimately decide whether each team can win enough games to get them to Dallas.
Let me know what I missed and if you have any problems with my predictions.
Go Pack Go!