On to the NFC North. I believe the teams here will be fun to watch. All the teams, except maybe Green Bay, have an explosive offensive weapon (Calvin Johnson, Hester and Adrian Peterson) while some young defenders like Tommie Harris and Ernie Sims are shaping the landscape of this division for the future.
I really like Detroit this year. As much fun as it was watching this offense under Mike Martz, not having a moving bulls-eye on Jon Kitna will do him nothing but good. Making this offense a little more conservative and balanced will help it's overall productivity tremendously. If Calvin Johnson continues to improve and Roy Williams sticks around, this team will have one of the best WR tandems for years. They are hoping Kevin Smith can deliver at RB, and there's a real shot of him becoming very good. Coach Rod Marinelli finally has all the coaching pieces in place to make this team play like the West Coast offense he's meant to lead, which should help him lead this team well.
However, they still need to do some work on defense, especially on the line with the loss of Shaun Rogers and in the secondary. When they do that they will be a dangerous team, but for now have made some good improvements.
Minnesota really looks awesome. They have a great runner in Peterson and have a good handcuff in Chester Taylor to spell AD and keep him on top of his game. They bring in Bernard Berrian to play alongside Sidney Rice to hopefully provide some thunder and lightning. They have a tremendously strong line with G Steve Hutchinson and T Bryant McKinnie. However, McKinnie will likely be suspended for a few games because of a previous arrest, so we will see what happens there.
Their defense has been solidified by the addition of stud end Jared Allen, making the D-Line a new entry in the discussion for best lines with him, and the Williams brothers in the middle. E.J. Henderson leads a linebacker core with safety Darren Sharper leading a strong secondary. This team is destined for good things very soon.
There's a lot of questions with the Green Bay Packers. How will Aaron Rodgers do?
I think he will be very good, and it could happen as soon as later this year, but not right away. This is a guy who was a top QB coming out of college who has had three years to study the NFL game. If this was any other situation than what the Packers have with the Favre drama, the fans would be ecstatic. The up and comer QB finally has the job. The Packers are very fortunate they have a player of Rodger's caliber coming in to replace a legend. The Dolphins wish they had that when Marino retired.
What else? The defense is strong, with a great CB tandem with Woodson and Harris and a strong LB unit with A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett leading the charge.
They have top receivers coming back in Driver, Jennings and Jones, who all have had a full offseason to get acclimated to Rodgers, which should be good for them.
O, woe is the Bears. What does this team have to look forward to? A new rookie runner? Their crappy QB tandem? They should thank the football gods that they have Devin Hester to provide excitement for their fans in the present and future because they are looking at some dire straits.
They do have a strong D and a really strong linebacker unit which should keep them in games, but they will need the defense to win games for them, because Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton aren't cutting it. Here's how things will finish.
Green Bay 8-8
As always, I look forward to your comments and the AFC North will be coming Monday.