Thursday, September 6, 2012

2012 NFL Preview: NFC North

The NFC North also has 3 teams that expect to make the playoffs. If they stay healthy and play the way they should, at least 2 will make it.

I like Green Bay, just because they've been here many times before and have proven they don't need a top notch defense to win this division. The Bears and the Lions will certainly give them a run for their money.If your planning on betting on a team this year, click here to check out the odds.

1st Place, Green Bay Packers: 12-4

Offense: QB Aaron Rodgers, RB Cedric Benson, WR Greg Jennings, WR Jordy Nelson, TE Jermichael Finley, C Jeff Satruday

Defense: LB Nick Perry (R), LB Clay Matthews, LB A.J. Hawk, CB Tramon Williams, S Charles Woodson, S Morgan Burnett

The Packers didn't do a whole lot to improve their 32nd ranked defense from a year ago, but they're hoping a full season out of Clay Matthews and the rookie pass-rusher Nick Perry will help improve that number. With their high powered offense, even just average play on defense should be enough for them to compete for home field advantage throughout the playoffs. I know their division is improved with the Bears making strides and the Lions sporting a high-powered attack themselves, but the Packers are still the cream of the crop. It should be interesting to see what their running game does this year behind Cedric Benson. Last year, the Packers got little production out of their backfield, so if Benson has another 1,000+ season in him, it'll make this offense that much tougher to stop.

2nd Place, Chicago Bears: 11-5*

Offense: QB Jay Cutler, RB Matt Forte, RB Michael Bush, WR Brandon Marshall, T Gabe Carimi

Defense: DT Henry Melton, DE Julius Peppers, LB Brian Urlacher, LB Lance Briggs, CB Charles Tillman, CB Tim Jennings, S Major Wright

The Bears have a chance to be a better version of the Baltimore Raves this year. They have a deep, complete defense and the makings for an explosive, balanced offense. They're banking on the Mashall-Cutler connection to produce like it did in Denver, and with the running game the Bears can bring, they should be able to do that with ease. The only area I wonder about with Chicago is their receivers outside of Marshall. Devin Hester is a speed demon, but never has been a consistent pass-catcher. Lovie Smith believes rookie Alshon Jeffries will be an impact reciever right off to bat to help, but only time will tell. As long as this defense stays healthy, and they can keep their big 3 (Cutler, Marhsall, Forte) on the field together, they should be as tough as anyone else in the NFC.

3rd Place, Detroit Lions: 9-7

Offense: QB Matt Stafford, RB Micheal Leshoure, WR Calvin Johnson, WR Titus Young, TE Brandon Pettigrew, G Rob Sims

Defense: DE Cliff Avril, DT Ndamukong Suh, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, LB Stephen Tulloch, CB Chris Houston

The Lions have one of the most explosive passing games in the NFL, but just about every other area of their football team is a question mark right now. Their backfield should be solid once they get Leshoure back in week 2 and they could get a huge boost if Jahvid Best comes back and contributes at some point. Their defense is a large question mark though. They have some pass-rushers and can handle the run OK, but they'll be outmatched by a lot of the big passing teams in this league with their spotty secondary. Still, Stafford and Johnson together give this team hope, and they'll always have a shot to win with those two on the field.

4th Place, Minnesota Vikings: 4-12

Offense: QB Christian Ponder, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Percy Harvin, WR Jerome Simpson, T Matt Kalil (R)

Defense: DE Brian Robinson, DE Jared Allen, LB Chad Greenway, LB Erin Henderson, CB Antoine Winfield

The Vikings have much of the same problems on D than the Lions do, and nowhere near the offensive firepower to make up for it. The jury is still out on Ponder, though he had some nice moments in the preseason. Percy Harvin and AP are offensive studs, but when opposing defenses have just those two to focus on, things will be tough. They need other guys to step up and help those two out in order for Ponder to be a success. Defensively, they won't stop many high-powered passing teams, but they will get after the QB. In this tough division and conference, they'll be lucky to improve much on last years 3-13 campaign.

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