By Matt Noonan
One of the toughest divisions in the NFL just got a tad bit better. In fact, all four teams will compete against one another, but when it’s all said and done, Chicago and Minnesota should rue the day, while Detroit leaps past them in the standings. Green Bay is most likely the favorite, however, any injuries or Super Bowl hangover could allow the Lions a chance to sneak into the top spot.
1.) Green Bay Packers [11-5] – It’s hard to think that the Packers won’t experience a “Super Bowl” hiccup, but then again, anything’s possible. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is primed to improve this year, as well as build off the success he experienced last year. The Packers also get a few key components back to their offense, tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant, who sustained serious season ending injuries last season. Expect the defense to ramp up their intensity, as well as support their offense too, especially if they’re in trouble, but all in all, the Packers are certainly a lock to make a run toward Super Bowl XLVI.
2.) Detroit Lions [9-7] – The key for the Lions is to remain healthy. Quarterback Matthew Stafford hasn’t finished an entire season, so here’s hope that he, as well as running back Jahvid Best can overcome any bumps and bruises this year. Also, expect their defense to provide loads of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
3.) Chicago Bears [8-8] – Does anyone truly believe that Jay Cutler is a legit quarterback in this league? Seriously, who thinks he’s amazing? Cutler isn’t exactly a leader or Mr. Clutch, but this season, expect him, as well as his Bears teammates to take a step backward. There are injuries and other issues, as well as linebacker Lance Briggs’s “trade drama.” Also, does anyone expect Roy Williams to make a major impact on offense? Overall, it should be another typical year in the “Windy City” for the Bears and their fans.
4.) Minnesota Vikings [6-10] – Who truly believes that Donovan McNabb is the answer for this team? Anyone else believe that Christian Ponder will earn the starting job mid-way through the season? The Vikings have a lot of questions marks on offense and defense, but hopefully first year head coach Leslie Frazier can salvage six or seven wins.