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Packers Walking Into Stronger NFC North

Kevin Roberts@BreakingKevinSenior Writer IMay 7, 2009

JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 14: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers talks with Aaron Rodgers #12 during the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Jacksonville Municipal stadium on December 14, 2008 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Green Bay hasn't just sat by and stood pat, well, at least not through the draft.

After watching the Bears trade for Jay Cutler, and other teams sign marquee free agents, the Packers made their splash in the draft.

The biggest move, though, was made months prior, and it didn't have anything to do with acquiring new players.

It was all about philosophy and approach.

Ted Thompson brought in defense guru Dom Capers, which propelled the Packers to make the transition to a 3-4 defense.

Once beginning the installation, the Packers set out in the draft to get at least two players who could come in and have an immediate impact.

After grabbing B.J. Raji with the ninth overall pick, and trading up to grab Clay Matthews at 26, it appears the Packers are successfully moving forward with the switch.

While Green Bay has put forth the effort and concentration on improving their defense, they still have to watch out for Minnesota and Chicago.

Chicago already has a great defense, we knew that. However, it's beginning to show it's age, so Chicago GM, Jerry Angelo, pulled a last-dash effort by trading for Cutler.

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Chicago followed with a good draft in which they got three new targets for their new quarterback, as well as solid defensive picks that add youth to the team.

However, despite both Green Bay and Chicago putting forth good drafts, Minnesota may end up pulling off the biggest move of all.

If they do in fact reel Favre in for one more season, they could potentially have the mental edge over the Packers, their schemes and several of their players.

If Favre comes into the equation, emotions are bound to unravel.

Regardless, Aaron Rodgers will be the only NFC North quarterback starting his second-straight season with the same team. He and his offensive weapons have grown together, and have established good chemistry.

If Favre decides not to come back, the iconic overhaul the Vikings would get isn't there, leaving the door wide open for the new-look Packers.

Potentially, the new 3-4 will increase turnovers, effectively get to the quarterback and shut down teams at the end of games.

In the end, it likely hangs on the success of the ground game, as well as Aaron Rodgers' not-so-great late game heroics. If Ryan Grant can get back to his 2007 form, this team has a real shot at the division.

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