With the NFC North, sometimes, you just never know what you’re going to get. Having said that, I fully expect the Chicago Bears to win this division, while the three remaining teams will be anywhere from mediocre to atrocious. Here’s the skinny on the NFC North.
I really like what Lovie Smith has done with his team the past three years and the Bears have one of the easiest schedules in the league this season, not to mention the fact that they are returning 22 starters from last year’s team. So why is something bothering me about the Bears?
Probably because I’m still not sure whether they can put the ball in the end zone on any kind of a consistent basis.
If Smith doesn’t open up his offense a little more this season, it’s entirely possible that the Bears could once again be a double-digit win team that is eventually left on the outside looking in. However I think the Bears will go at least 3-3 in the division and possibly 4-2.
I think the Vikings made one of the best acquisitions in the NFL this past offseason when they hired former Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator, Brad Childress to become their new head coach, replacing an almost comically inept Mike Tice.
Childress in a no-nonsense guy and one of the game’s most innovative offensive minds and his system should work wonders in Minnesota, where the Vikings do have plenty of talented players – but had absolutely no guidance whatsoever.
I also don’t think either, Brad Johnson and Chester Taylor are the long term answers at quarterback and running back respectively, so those are areas Childress will have to address at some point in the near future as well. The Vikings did pull off a huge coup by signing former Seattle All-Pro guard Steve Hutchinson to a $49 million seven-year contract, which should immediately help the Vikes’ suspect offensive line.
I think it is entirely possible that the Vikings will win at least three division games and possibly four. Anything beyond that is a huge bonus for Childress and the Vikings.
Green Bay Packers
I’ve always admired the way Brett Favre has played the game. He was been a genuine warrior for nearly two decades now and has come to be recognized as the face of the Green Bay Packers franchise. Having said that, I think Favre should have hung up his cleats and called it a career after last year’s dismal atrocity.
I like Green Bay’s selection of linebacker A.J. Hawk with the fifth overall pick in this year’s draft, but unless the Packers can magically make at least another three clones of Hawk appear, then 2006 is going to be another long season on the Frozen tundra.
The Packers also have a new head coach in Mike McCarthy, so there are also going to be some adjustments there as well. If the Packers win anything more than two division games, I’ll be shocked.
It seems like every three years or so, the Lions hire a new head coach and an entirely new regime takes over to continue the Lions’ losing ways.
The Lions new head coach, Rod Marinelli makes the third new head coach in the division, which should be entertaining enough in itself.
Marinelli, and his drill sergeant mentality, has promised a change in how things are run in the motor city, although it doesn’t bode well that some layers are already rebelling about him “being too tough.”
If Marinelli doesn’t get the job done in a couple of seasons, the Lions will probably turn to new offensive coordinator, Mike Martz to take replace him. And speaking of Martz, that’s about the best thing the Lions did was hire him to spice up their offense, which, coincidentally has several talented wide receivers. Now, if only Detroit could find a quarterback.
I think the Lions will win two division games and possibly three. Anything more would be a miracle.