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Thursday night, we’ll see what Brett Favre can do after spending his entire off-season playing toss in the mud with his Wrangler Jeans buddies and that golden retriever. More importantly, though, we’ll see what Adrian Peterson can do against an ailing Saints defense, who exactly Brett Favre will pass to other than Visanthe Shiancoe and Bernard Berrian, and a big rematch of last year’s NFC championship game.
This season, we’ll see the NFC North as one of the most exciting divisions in football. The Lions and Bears are both poised to do much better than last season. And although neither of them have a shot at capturing the division, nor a wildcard spot, they will definitely play spoilers in their divisional games against the Packers and Vikings.
Will Brett Favre do it again? Will Drew Brees? Are Jay Cutler and Matt Forte really that bad, or did they each just have an off year? Is Detroit cursed? Am I asking too many questions? Take a look…
1. Packers – Aaron Rodgers has reached the “elite QB” status, and should take this team on a deep playoff run this season.
2. Vikings – Flip-Flop Favre takes another crack at it, but with question marks already surrounding the WR corps, their depth will be tested early and often.
3. Bears – New offensive coordinator Mike Martz will look to get Jay Cutler and the Bears back on track.
4. Lions – Like the Raiders, the Lions won’t be as awful as they’ve been in the past few seasons, but Detroit still has another few years before they’re relevant again.
1. Packers – Aaron Rodgers will claim the NFC quarterback crown for this season, and Ryan Grant will benefit from the extra coverage. Nick Collins, Clay Matthews, Nick Barnett and former Eagle B.J. Raji will step up in tough games against Minnesota, the Jets and the Cowboys down the line.
2. Vikings – As much as I might regret saying this in five months, we can’t expect Brett Favre to do it again. Nature refutes it. So does an injured Sidney Rice. Adrian Peterson is still the best grind-out-the-yards running back in the league and their defense is solid enough to hold up, and will be enough to get them into the playoffs. But they aren’t clutch enough to get further than that.
3. Bears – Jay Cutler can’t possibly be as bad as he was last year, but a tough schedule (they’re in a tough division and play the AFC East) and a second consecutive under-achieving season from Matt Forte will make fans in Chicago start looking forward to the Blackhawks’ opening day.
4. Lions – Matt Stafford will come into his own and make fantasy owners of Calvin Johnson very happy. But a rebuilding defense and an absent offensive line will keep them away from success once again.
1. Packers – Aaron Rodgers and co. have a lot of great weapons to work with, and they can just hit too hard to be denied easily this year.
2. Vikings – There’s no way Old Man Favre (a grandpa) will be able to duplicate last season, ankle or not. After the Saints provided the blueprint for how to knock him down a few pegs, the Vikings won’t be as successful.
3. Bears – Julius Peppers is a great start, but more defenders are needed, and Jay Cutler needs to show promise before the Bears can contend.
4. Lions – ….. I like Ndamukong Suh’s underwear commercial.
1. Vikings – Brett Favre is back under center, and as long as he’s the QB, the Vikings are in good shape for postseason play.
2. Packers – No one should discount the fact that in the shadow of Favre, Aaron Rodgers has grown into one of the best QB’s in the NFL.
3. Bears – Can Jay Cutler improve after an awful season? Well…maybe if he had some capable receivers…
4. Lions – Another year as cellar dwellars is nothing new in Detroit…but for the first time since maybe Barry Sanders was in uniform, there’s reason for optimism with the Lions thanks to Matthew Stafford and Ndamukong Suh.