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Old 08-28-2008, 05:22 AM   #7
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Cool A Closer Look: NFC North

Minnesota Vikings: 9-7
QB Tarvaris Jackson has lot to prove to say the least, but so do GB and Chi at the position and Det's Kitna has long since moved into the WYSIWYG zone; Adrian Peterson may have best size-speed ratio of any NFL RB in literally decades, and they stole WR Bernard Berrian in FA from rival Bears. Defense has had chronic problems vs. the pass, but that may change with arrival of sack-happy DE Jared Allen. Retirement and subsequent trade of Brett Favre renders GB's five-game bulge atop division at end of '07 irrelevant, so it's wide open this year - and if the running game decides things, it will do so in their favor.

Green Bay Packers: 8-8
They say that when the colt leaves the mare, he kicks her in the belly - and that's exactly what Favre may have done to them with this summer's drama-king routine, and RB Ryan Grant has one-year flash-in-the-pan written all over him, but receivers and OL are top drawer, as is the defense generally. They've clearly come back to the rest of the division, but since that division could be entire NFL's weakest this year, they can't be ruled out in Year 1 After #4.

Chicago Bears: 6-10
Like Buffalo in AFC, they stood pat at QB holding 7-5-4-3-2, and they're not much better off at RB after parting ways with the troubled Cedric Benson - and with Bernard Berrian gone to division foe Vikes they were reduced to bringing back aging Marty Booker and/or hoping special-teams WMD Devin Hester can make it as full-time WR, but defense is rock-ribbed when healthy (as it was most emphatically NOT last season), though MLB Urlacher's ongoing and highly-publicized contract dispute serves as unwelcome distraction. Lovie Smith must be included on any watch list of HCs at risk for firing in 2008, and his prognosis for survival with such sparse resources on offense is guarded at best; tough sell, even in this underwhelming division.

Detroit Lions: 5-11
Actually coming off their best finish since 2000 (7-9, if that doesn't tell you something), but the way they did it (going 1-7 after 6-2 start) left big-time bad taste. Until demonstrated to the contrary, Jon Kitna veritably towers over rest of division's QBs, but Bronco discard Tatum Bell (Shanahan seems to know when to unload his RBs - see Mike Anderson) heads backfield that frightens no one and neither does OL, and even highly-touted WRs haven't lived up to their billing. And just think: The offense is in much BETTER shape than the defense! Add Rod Marinelli to the roster of likely '08 HC casualties, and don't even think of using this team in any seasonal propositions.
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