wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost2

Most Read: Sports

http://www.washingtonpost.com/2010/07/06/ABMK8PP_linkset.html
The league
Posted at 12:11 PM ET, 06/08/2011

2011 NFC North predictions

Where to begin? OK, Green Bay is probably the most successful professional football franchise of all-time. They are the defending Super Bowl champions. The Pack also have the most promising young QB in the game. They have many great skill position players at their disposal. There hasn’t been someone as unblockable as Clay Matthews in more than a decade. It is safe to say that the Packers are the cream of the NFL crop and there is no reason to think that head coach Mike McCarthy will let any of that change in the near future. So who can stop them? Well the answer to that question may surprise some people.

The Chicago Bears are what I like to refer to as a “nice” team. I just don’t buy them really. Jay Cutler is a turnover waiting to happen or a three TD game waiting to happen. I can’t put stock in a team when one of their biggest questions on a game to game basis is: will the QB implode or be unconscious today? The positive is that Chicago does play good D and they have one of the better young versatile RBs in Matt Forte. The NFC North is old school, it’s cold weather, smash mouth, field position football and Chicago plays that game as good as anyone. But in my opinion, Chicago’s window has pretty much closed. The defense is old and getting older. I just don’t see Cutler as the player who can lead a team to a division title much less a Super Bowl victory.

Minnesota is an interesting story. The timeline of events for the Vikes over the last five years could have taken the team down a few different roads. Wind the clocks back a few years. If Minnesota doesn’t put all their eggs in the Favre basket they might have a “QB of the future” right now. As it is, they made the biggest risk of the draft by moving up to take Christian Ponder. This was one of the most desperate draft picks I have seen in recent memory. Christian Ponder? The Vikings have two of the best players at their respective positions in Adrian Peterson and Jared Allen. I am afraid we will not see the success that could have been for this team. The shelf life for RBs in this league is extremely short and Jared Allen isn’t getting younger. It is a shame. This Vikings team had the potential to be a very powerful very dominating one for a 7-8 year window and now with poor decision making and drafting the Vikes seem to be content on being 9-7 forever.

Now this brings us to the most interesting part of our story, the Detroit Lions. Hear me out. The Lions are in possession of a very young talented QB, a WR that could be the second coming of Terrell Owens only bigger, faster and less of a distraction. Oh, did I mention they have potentially the most disruptive force on the defensive line since Reggie White? Ok, ok that is a bit premature, but the boy named Suh is a freight train and impossible to handle even with a double team. As if that wasn’t an abundance of riches, the Lions pulled off an amazing coup in the draft. They landed Nick Fairley in the first round. If I had to buy stock in a team for the next 8-10 years the Lions are a team that I would take a long hard look at. The proof will be in coaching and management. The Lions can’t seem to get this part of the equation right, so we shall see what happens.

The reigning champs are an easy sell. Green Bay has pretty much nothing to prove. They have the best fan base in the entire league, and I have to admit I am jealous of their future. Aaron Rodgers has Hall of Fame written all over him. He didn’t even have one of his best weapons at his disposal this past year because tight end, Jermichael Finley, was injured. The Packers have one of the best coaches in the entire game. Their defense is as good as any in the league -- not to mention they have one of the best home field advantages of all-time. It doesn’t get much better than that. The Packers have shown the ability to find talent where others couldn’t. That is a skill that separates great teams from dynasties.This Packers team has the potential to be a three to four time Super Bowl champion type team, and I don’t see what will stop them. I like the potential of Detroit but it will take them a couple years to be a real contender. There won’t be much opposition from the rest of the division.

NFC North Champion: Green Bay Packers

By Jonathan Reynolds  |  12:11 PM ET, 06/08/2011

Tags:  NFC North

 
Read what others are saying
     

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company