Over the next week and a half, I’ll be taking a look at each of the NFL’s individual divisions and offering my thoughts and predictions for how they will fare in the 2012-13 campaign. Today’s edition will feature a look at the North division of the National Football Conference, featuring the defending champion Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.
The schedule for the 2012 NFL predictions pieces is as follows:
AFC East (09/01/12)
AFC South (09/03/12)
AFC North (09/03/12)
AFC West (09/04/12)
NFC East (09/04/12)
NFC South (09/05/12)
Without further ado, my predictions for the NFC North…..
1) Green Bay Packers — (12-4) — Last season’s defending Superbowl champions were rolling into the postseason last winter. If not for a minor hiccup down in Kansas City, they’d of been undefeated entering the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Packers, tragedy would strike just days before their divisional match-up with the New York Giants when the son of assistant coach Joe Philbin drowned in a nearby Wisconsin river. Between the burden of such a heartbreaking event and the playoff prowess of the Giants, the Packers would find themselves a first round knockout in 2011. Now, with the league’s most potent offense, lead by NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will look to return to the promised land this season. However, Green Bay’s defense was the worst in the NFL against the pass last season and that will need to change if the Packers are going to make a deep playoff run in a pass-happy league filled with many spectacular quarterbacks.
2) Detroit Lions — (10-6) — The Detroit Lions are another one of the NFC’s most deadly offensive teams. With quarterback Matt Stafford chucking it out to the NFL’s best wide receiver, Calvin Johnson, Jr., expect the Lions to put lots of points on the board in 2012-13. With youngsters Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh anchoring a stout defensive front seven, the Lions are capable of both shutting down the run and rushing the passer. However, their weakness in the defensive secondary is obvious and must be improved upon if the Lions would like to have a shot at stealing the Packers’ NFC North crown.
3) Chicago Bears — (10-6) — The Chicago Bears could be the most underrated team in the entire NFL. If quarterback Jay Cutler (who I actually believe is overrated) didn’t suffer a season-ending injury last season, the Bears would have likely gone to the playoffs. In the offseason, general manager Jerry Angelo went out and got his franchise quarterback a couple of shiny new toys; all-pro receiver Brandon Marshall and rookie speedster Alshon Jeffery. On defense, long-time captain Brian Urlacher and pass rusher Julius Peppers lead the division’s best all-around unit.
4) Minnesota Vikings — (2-14) — In training camp, there was a reason that head coach Leslie Frazier made the infamous decry of “If you touch Adrian Peterson, you’re cut“. That’s because outside of number 28, the Vikings aren’t blessed with much talent on offense. There is speedy wide out Percy Harvin, but he’s more known for his work on special teams, and quarterback Christian Ponder struggled mightily in his rookie campaign. Minnesota’s defensive backs may, in fact, be the best in the division, lead by rookie Harrison Smith and veteran Antoine Winfield. Sack machine Jared Allen provides the Vikings’ defense will a solid pass rush all on his own, but without much help in the middle, opposing running backs often have a field day against Minnesota.
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