2010 NFC North Preview: Which Team Will Improve the Most in 2010?

Jordan LoaCorrespondent IMay 19, 2010

DETROIT , MI - NOVEMBER 26:  Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks on while playing the Green Bay Packers on November 26, 2009 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Apart from the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, the NFC North was non-existent in 2009.

It's fair to say that the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears were dragging the division down, but it's not fair to put the Bears in the same sentence as the Lions.

After all, the Bears went 7-9 last season, while the Lions went a discouraging 2-14.

However, the Lions' 2010 draft class is rated at an 'A', so we'll just have to wait and see if they can make the most of it.

Below are the four teams in the NFC North, with 2009 season stats, and an analysis of how each team's draft picks will improve their 2010 campaigns.

Detroit Lions: Going 2-14 is bad, but it's even worse when you get beat by a 2-14 team, like the Redskins and Browns did in 2009.

In all fairness, the Lions had six games that could have been won had they only scored two more TDs.

Detroit's offense was horrible all season, which is clearly indicated by their 2-14 record. The offense only averaged 299 yards per game, bad enough for 26th in the NFL.

But the Lions' defense made the offense look stellar in 2009.

Detroit ranked 32nd in the league, dead last, giving up 392.1 yards per game.

The good news is that Detroit had a first-rate draft, with several key play makers joining the Lions' roster, most notably DT Ndamukong Suh from Nebraska and RB Jahvid Best out of California.

Suh solidified his spot in the 2010 NFL Draft with a 4 1/2 sack performance in the 13-12 loss to Texas in the Big XII Championship.

The Lions desperately needed Suh, and now that they've got him, look for him to make a huge statement in the Metrodome.

Detroit's rushing attack didn't cause any problems for any defense, as they were ranked 26th in the league with 101 rushing yards per game.

This is where Best comes in.

2009 was a great year for Best, as he racked up 867 yards and 12 TDs.

With Suh and Best now on the roster, the Lions look to be a divisional contender come 2010.

Chicago Bears: The Bears had a respectable 2009 season with a 7-9 record.

Chicago took a defensive approach to the draft, with three out of their five picks being defensive players.

This was a wise choice, considering the Bears' defense came in at the No. 17 spot in the league averaging 337.8 yards per game.

The Bears' offense struggled a great deal more than the defense, with 310.3 total yards per game, placing them in the 23rd spot in the league.

Unfortunately, the Bears didn't draft any offensive players that will make an immediate impact in 2010. So look for Chicago to among the lower offensive rankings again next season.

Chicago made a solid pick with QB Dan LeFevour out of Central Michigan. LeFevour is a fairly good QB, and will have the chance to hone his skills behind starting QB Jay Cutler. The Bears needed an experienced backup QB and LeFevour is the right man for the job.

Minnesota Vikings: What could a team that went 12-4 in 2009 possibly need that they didn't have before?

Apparently, more talent and more ways to crush opponents.

The Vikings' offense ranked fifth in the league with 379.6 yards per game.

Who did they add to the offense this draft?

RB Toby Gerhart from Stanford.

He's the same guy who torched USC for 178 rushing yards and three TDs.

Gerhart is definitely a power back, and will most likely be used for third and short situations.

Minnesota's defense sure didn't need any help last season, as the defense only gave up 305.5 yards per game, putting them in sixth place in the NFL.

But the Vikings felt otherwise since they picked up DE Everson Griffen from USC.

During his tenure at USC, Griffen amassed 82 tackles and 16 sacks. He'll be one of the main reasons the Vikings' already superb defense only gets better in 2010.

The success of the Vikings' 2009 season can be mostly attributed to Brett Favre. However, if he doesn't return for the 2010 season, the Vikings won't have nearly the success they did in 2009.

Green Bay Packers: Green Bay is another team that didn't have to do anything to repeat their success of 2009 as they went 11-5.

The Packers had a good balance of offensive and defensive picks from the draft, with four offensive players and three defensive players.

Speaking of balance, the Green Bay offense ranked sixth in total yards with 379.1 yards per game, while the defense ranked second in the NFL in total yards, only giving up 284.4 yards per game.

Probably the best Packers' pick is OT Bryan Bulaga. Even though the Packers already have two solid starters in Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, Bulaga adds much-needed depth and provides the Packers with an experienced reserve lineman.

Final Rankings:

4. Detroit Lions: Despite having an amazing draft class, I just don't see the Lions improving upon their 2-14 season. It will take a few seasons for this draft class to make an impact on the division.

3. Chicago Bears: The Bears had a decent season, and while they won't challenge for supremacy within the division, they will definitely improve to at least .500 in 2010.

2. Green Bay Packers: The Packers didn't add much in terms of talent in this year's draft, but that's not to say they won't be the same great team they were last season. Look for another 11-5 season come 2010.

1. Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings were the king of the NFC North last season, and don't expect that to change, especially since they've added even more firepower to an already formidable team. Look for them to wreak havoc in the league once again in 2010.

To read more of Jordan's work, click here.

Here are my other divisional previews:


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