Bears Best in Black-and-Blue
Chicago Bears (13-3)
Chicago dodged a bullet when Lance Briggs walked away, literally, from wrecking his Lamborghini shortly after signing his huge contract. While a great offense gives you an excellent chance of making the playoffs, a great defense all but guarantees it -- especially in this conference. Expect little change from last year when Da Bears dominated almost every team they faced.
About that offense. Rex Grossman is awful and losing Thomas Jones isn't going to help.
Yeah, they are who you think they are.
Visit SB Nation's Chicago Bears blog, Windy City Gridiron.
Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
Minnesota will need a repeat of last year's run-styming defense to have a shot at a Wild Card berth, but this is a team in transition and after finishing 6-10 last year, the playoffs are a reach. The other question is whether the offense will be able to run as well as the defense stops the run. Minnesota has an excellent offensive line, and Chester Taylor and rookie Adrian Peterson could be a real force.
But there are challenges, including losing defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin to Pittsburgh, and hoping second-year quarterback Tavaris Jackson can manage the offense and get the Vikings in the end zone enough to keep that defense from going to waste.
Visit SB Nation's Minnesota Vikings blog, the Daily Norseman.
Green Bay Packers (7-9)
I keep hearing how Green Bay came on strong at the end of 2006 with four straight wins, keyed by an all-of-a-sudden defense. Those wins were against San Francisco, who was already out of the playoffs; Detroit, like it's tough to beat Detroit; Minnesota, who floundered with nothing to play for, especially on the road at Lambeau; and Chicago, who had already wrapped up the top seed. I'm not impressed.
This year, the Pack hosts Philly, meets the Giants in New Jersey, host San Diego, travel to Minnesota and host Chicago to start the season. Big difference.
Brett Favre is entering his 17th season, and you have to wonder how much longer he can really take so much punishment. With a very suspect running game, Favre, who will be 38 in a month, is going to be throwing a lot, which means he's going to get hit a lot. With a QB rating in the low 70s two years in a row, how many holes can he dig Green Bay out of? The good news is Donald Driver didn't sustain a serious injury a couple weeks ago.
Visit SB Nation's Green Bay Packers blog, the Acme Packing Company.
Detroit Lions (3-13)
2004: 6-10. 2005: 5-11. 2006: 3-13. Is there any reason to believe this team is going anywhere while Matt Millen is general manager? And would a 6-10 season be considered successful?
Visit SB Nation's Detroit Lions blog, the Pride of Detroit.
Who will win the NFC North?
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Green Bay Packers