Maybe it’s just me succumbing to the ESPN hype machine, but I couldn’t help but think watching John Gruden drool over Brett Favre on Monday night that the NFC North has become the NFL’s “IT” division this year.
For proof, look no further than the QB situation across the division. At the beginning of last year, we had…
· An unproven Aaron Rodgers replacing “the legend,”
· Tavaris Jackson trying not to screw up hand-offs to Adrian Peterson,
· Kyle “The Neckbeard” Orton managing games for the Bears
· and journeyman John Kitna ‘leading’ the Lions.
Now we get to witness Rodgers, Cutler, Stafford and Favre duke it out against each other twice. The one-year extreme makeover at the league’s marquee position has made the NFC North the NFL’s glamour division.
With the first quarter of the ‘09 season in the books, here’s a look back and ahead at the league’s sexiest division.
- Vikings – The Favre factor has had a greater impact than a lot of fans ever thought imaginable. Only 1 INT through 4 games? Who is this guy? With no glaring weakness on the roster, the Vikes have emerged as the team to beat – not just in the North, but possibly the whole NFC. Next game: at Rams. Predicted finish: 13-3.
- Bears – Led by Hot Rod (Marinelli), the D-line has been a force. Gould, Knox and Maynard have elevated the special teams to the best in the league (again). Oh, and that Cutler dude has been as good as advertised. After a much needed bye week to rest injured LBs and WRs, Bears get tough back-to-back road tests in Atlanta and Cincy. Predicted finish: 11-5.
- Packers – The switch to the 3-4 defense has been a mixed bag (The good: 4 INTs vs Cutler. The bad: 141 yards rushing to Cedric Benson). Rodgers has been solid despite his pathetic O-line and non-existent running game. Next game: Bye, then at home against the Lions. Predicted finish: 9-7.
- Lions – Stafford, Kevin Smith and Megatron will be an offensive force in the division for years. But there are major question marks on the defense. By year’s end, they could be the most improved team in the division…which isn’t saying much considering last year’s O-fer in the “W” column. Next game: Steelers at home. Predicted finish: 5-11.
What do you think?