Who will reign supreme in the artic tundra that is the NFC North?
Chicago Bears (2010 ATS 9-6-1)
The Chicago Bears were one of the great unknown teams heading into 2010. Was Peppers
really going to earn his contract? How would Cutler work out in a Martz
style offense? Can the defense regain its old form? They answered
most of those questions with authority.
The O-line took a while to gel
and Martz didn't bother to adjust for the longest time. But while they
were figuring it out the defense carried them to a division crown thanks in
large part to a great record on the road and within the division. Teams
had a hard time running on them or sustaining drives for points. Special
teams was once again a big weapon and it was an overall great season for Da
That doesn't mean they don't have areas to improve. Cutler needs more
weapons and the O-line is far from solidified. Ball control continues to
be a problem and Cutler himself will need to answer his critics in
2011. They bolstered each side of the line with Carimi and Paea in
the draft, but they have a big hill to climb if they hope to remain at the top
of a division that includes the Super Bowl champs and an up and coming Detroit team. Trading Olsen was a head
scratcher, but free agency will continue to be a wild and whacky ride.
To-do list: Fill needs at C (O-line depth), G, LB (depth), DT (depth),
WR (#1/depth/size), and DE (depth). Resign Adams.
Biggest post-lockout question: Can they fill enough needs on offense to
compliment the D?
Green Bay Packers (2010 ATS 9-7)
There isn't much bad to say about the Green Bay Packers champs. I picked them to
make it to the Super Bowl last year and they went one step further and won the
whole damn thing. They overcame a ridiculous amount of significant
injuries, too. Most of their success came from their ability to dominate
the air on both sides of the ball. Many are picking the Packers to repeat again this season.
They ranked at or near the top in red
zone offense, net yards per drive, pass defense, sacks, turnover differential
and least amount of penalties. Despite dominating at home, they won
all their playoff games on the road. All this and I haven't even
The few things they can improve on is their running game, pass protection, and
special teams. Having said that, most of those areas will be shored up
just by getting healthy bodies back for 2011. In the draft they gave
Rodgers two more pieces on offense to work with when they took an OT and WR in
the first couple rounds.
Starks now gives Grant a run for his money at RB
and they would be wise to keep Kuhn in the mix too. Resigning Crosby was a good move in a
relatively quiet free agency for GB thus far. Releasing Barnett was notable.
To-do list: Add a DE and some depth at G. Resign Jenkins?
Biggest post-lockout question: Who can stand in their way if they can
stay relatively healthy in 2011?
Detroit Lions (2010 ATS 12-4)
If we were handing out awards for 2010, Detroit would be given home field advantage
throughout the playoffs. They had the best ATS (against the spread)
record of any team in the league last year. People continued to
under-value them throughout the year and it's not hard to blame them. Detroit had an ugly record on the road and against good teams, a crazy pass-happy
offense, a high amount of penalties, and bad defensive play from the back 7 and
in the red zone.
Despite all this, they continued to cover almost every week. Most of this
success came from their offensive/defensive lines, red zone offense, ball
control, and new team attitude. Gone are the lowly days of an 0-16 season
and things are on the up and up in motor-city.
They continued to bolster
their strengths by adding a DT, WR, and RB at the top of the draft and you can
expect more good things from recent draftees such as Suh, Best, Pettigrew, and
Delmas. They’ve already resigned three of their free agents and
brought in LB Durant from Jacksonville.
To-do list: Keep Stafford/Best healthy, fill needs at CB, LB, and
G. Try to compliment Delmas at S.
Biggest post-lockout question: Is Stafford headed for the dreaded
"injury-prone" label or can he finally put it all together and lead
them to the promised-land?
Vikings (2010 ATS 6-10)
Anyone who thought Favre was going to lead the Minnesota Vikings to another great season in 2010
deserves a slap upside the head. I'm not saying it was impossible, but
the writing was on the wall. Did I expect the rest of the team to implode
the way they did? Absolutely not--which makes their fall from grace even
more significant. The only strengths the team had last year was Peterson
and a bit better than average defense.
Almost everything else was a complete disaster. From the coaches to the
QB play to the divisional record and on an on. They couldn't compete with
the top teams, pass the ball at all, pressure the QB, get off the field on 3rd
down, or take care of the football. In order words it was a total mess.
Management took a chance with Ponder in the draft and followed it up with TE
Rudolph in round two. Out is Brad "Chilly" Childress. In
is defensive-minded Leslie Frazier. He's had great success coaching top
10 defenses almost every year he's been at the helm. It would be an
understatement to say they are welcoming the change at head coach.
acquired Mcnabb which was a good move for this organization. This gives them a realistic chance to avoid
an embarrassing season. Losing Rice
hurt, but they brought in Aromashadu from CHI, resigned Longwell, and got some
depth at DT with Ayodele.
To-do list: solidify the
O-line, fill needs at WR, LB, DE, C, G, S, and K.
Biggest post-lockout question: Is Mcnabb the only one in the room who
thinks he is still a top 10 quarterback or can he resurrect his career?
What are your thoughts? Check out the SBR Forum
and share your opinions and keep a close eye on
the opening betting odds
for the 2011 season.