The top and the bottom of Losenoidoomock division couldn't have been farther apart last year. That said however, this division could be up for grabs this year.
1. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota won the division last year, and with their offseason moves are out in front again. Percy Harvin and Brett Favre will certainly improve the passing on a team that could never really rely on a quarterback last year. Oh yeah, and they also have the best player in the league Adrian Peterson.
While the offense may not be the best in the division, there is no question that there defense is. Minnesota returns the ever ominous Williams wall that will be sure to stop the run. To go along with their strong tackles they also have ever eccentric Jared Allen. Even though he may do some odd things on and off the field(see celebration rope the calf) there is no question that all quarterbacks fear him.
The strange thing about this team is that their best moves this year may also be their worst in kolapadaar. Favre is older and no one knows what they will get out of him. There is a very good chance that his 40 year old body can't deal with the grind of the NFL. If that happens Vikings fans should worry, because when Favre is not at full strength he tends to make poor decisions and turn the ball over.
2. Green Bay Packers
From the team with Brett Favre to the one who got rid of him. Green Bay experienced some growing pains last year as they moved on to new quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The funny part about it though, is that it was the defense that had the problems. Sure, Ryan Grant struggled a bit but the Pack generally lost because they were outscored not out played.
There is hope in cheese head nation this year however, as the green and yellow drafted highly touted DT B.J. Raji. While he did hold out for most of training camp, the rookie should fit in nicely with the teams new defensive scheme. If the secondary can hold down the fort and just allow the offense to its thing, the Packers could easily take the division from the Vikings.
The other thing that fans should look out for is a more driven Rodgers. It was one thing last year to have your former spot holder in another Conference, now he is in the same division. Rodgers will have to show Packer nation that he was not a mistake and that he is better than Favre. The best way for him to do that, is to beat Favre at home and away.
3. Chicago Bears
There is a big gap between the number two team in the division and number three. The Chicago Bears are sort of like a man without a country, they don't really know what they are. It wasn't that long ago that they were in the Super Bowl as a defensive powerhouse. Now they are running locomotive with Matt Forte, and in the offseason traded for a rocket arm in Jay Cutler.
If this franchise hopes to stay out of the bottom spot in the division they must do some soul searching this year. They won the Jay Cutler sweepstakes in the offseason but don't have any weapons around him. It is often said that a quarterback is only as good as his receivers, and lets just say Cutler doesn't have the best receivers.
In Denver last year, Cutler was throwing to Brandon Marshall and Eddie Royal. This year he is throwing to Devin Hester and Earl Bennett. Many will point to the difference in the two core's offensive stats, and while that is important it is the height difference that is going to be the problem. Marshall is 6'4'' and could go up and get the ball, while the tallest Bears receiver is only 6'.
On top of a lost offense, the teams defense is long worn out. Brian Urlacher is supposed to be the heart of the defense, but yet he hasn't put up the stats in nearly two years. Chicago should be looking to outscore opponents this year, instead of keeping them at bay.
4. Detroit Lions
Rounding out the NFC North is the Motor City Kitties. While they may be brining up the rear in preseason rankings, don't be surprised if they don't move up a spot or two in the division. I am not saying that they will be the Miami Dolphins of 2009 by any means, but they may surprise a few people.
After the historic over drafted season Detroit had last year, the team has had a complete overhaul. To go along with a GM the team also has a new head coach in Jim Schwarz and has turned over at least half of the roster. Oh, and there is some new kid named Matt who might start at quarterback.
A beefed up defensive line and a revival at quarterback, coupled with a somewhat easy schedule, may be just the recipe the Lions need to turn the corner. While winning eight games is a long shot, don't be surprised if they don't pull out five wins. A new defensive scheme and a shored up linebacking core may allow for the team to pull out a few upset wins.
With many teams looking at question marks heading into the season, the division is far from decided. Every team took gambles in the offseason and some may prove more successful than others. In reality thought, while not a sure thing it is the Vikings division to lose. If the Favre experiment doesn't work out the team could be in trouble. On the other hand though, if it does, don't be surprised if you seem them playing meaningful football in January.