Saturday, July 29, 2006

NFC North Thoughts

A while back I gave my thoughts on the NFC East, and with the NFL season rapidly approaching, I’ve been thinking a lot more about how the season’s going to go. My thoughts on the NFC North:

Bears 9-7
The usually woeful Bears have a breakout season and make the playoffs behind a strong defense. Tell me if you’ve heard this story before. It didn’t turn out that well last time, as their 2001 success was followed up by a plummet back to Earth the next year. Plus, that team had a better offense than this one does, with an unsettled quarterback situation, and not very much at the skill positions. Thus, I am very much tempted to pick a fall from the Bears. The problem is the rest of the division is really weak, so I’ll still take them to make the playoffs on the strength of a great defense (that won’t change – they have too many quality young players) and hopefully for them a good running game with Cedric Benson and potentially Thomas Jones.

Lions 7-9
I think we will see modest improvement from Detroit, although much like the Bears, I’m picking a moderately decent season practically by default in this division. I love the signing of Jon Kitna possibly the most of any signing this offseason. He is a good QB that they got cheap and who will make Detroit’s young wide receivers look a lot better. They don’t need all three to turn out to be playmakers, but I think Mike Martz will find a way to make something out of the group. I don’t like him as a head coach, but I like him a lot as an offensive coordinator. I like their secondary, so if they can get pressure on the quarterback I think they should be good enough to finish decently.

Packers 7-9
People are underselling the Packers because so many things have gone wrong for them in recent years. Favre, Green, Driver and Franks compose a quality core group of skill players on offense. The defense should be improved with A.J. Hawk and Charles Woodson, even if the latter wasn’t worth what they paid to him. I think KGB will rebound from a weak season. That’s enough to give the Packers more hope than a lot of people are giving them, and I think they could be a surprise team. That said, I’m not fully sold on the health of their O, the skill of their D or the competence of their head coach, so I’m picking them to rebound only to a certain degree.

Vikings 6-10
A lot of people seem sold on the Vikings, but I’m not one of them. To begin with, they weren’t that good last year. They had a lot of luck in winning close games against teams that weren’t that good, and they looked bad in many of their losses. Their defense is anchored primarily by aging players. I’m not sold on Chester Taylor, who has good but unspectacular YPC numbers behind a typically strong offensive line and has never taken a season’s worth of carries. Brad Johnson is the surest player to not make it through the NFL season other than Kurt Warner. If everything goes right, they could be good. But there are way too many things that can go wrong.


Blogger Dave Ling & Franchise said...

This division is aweful, the Bears should win this division by default because the other three are completely incapable of doing so.

Way too generous with the Pack at 7-9 and the Vikes at 6-10... The Pack have 5-11 written all over them and the Vikes better hope Brad Johnson stays healthy or they'll be 3-13.

Horrible division.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Todd Martin said...

Well, they do get to play each other 6 times each, so it's hard for them all to finish really badly, and plus the NFC West looks really weak this year as well. But I could definitely see the records being lower like you think.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Dave Ling & Franchise said...

You're right, someone unfortunately has to win when these teams play each other.

And in all fairness I haven't honestly assesssed schedules yet either, I just look at the rosters and cringe.

2:12 PM  

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