Wednesday, September 7, 2011

2011 NFL Preview: NFC North

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-Digger's Daily-

Green Bay Packers enter 2011 as reigning champions. Repeating is always a difficult task in the NFL. Green Bay has what it takes. Or do they? Time will tell. Here's how the NFC North shakes out in 2011.

1 - Green Bay Packers
Offense: All systems go. Aaron Rodgers has plenty of targets. Offensive line solid. Play calling excellent. All key ingredients. Only question mark is keeping running backs healthy.
Defense: 2010 was a bounce back season for Green Bay's defense. They're a solid bunch who figure capitalize immensely thanks in large part to new kickoff rules. Good luck attempting 80 yard drives on every possession vs these guys.
Prediction: North winners - 12 wins.

2 - Chicago Bears
Offense: Offensive line hasn't improved much for the Bears who ranked near the bottom in 2010 (30th). Jay Cutler will be on the run again in '11. Chicago managed to win the North last year in spite of many shortcomings. Cutler needs to stop throwing drive ending interceptions. Sometimes tossing the ball out of bounds is a better ball possession formula.
Defense: 2010 bend but don't break style saved the day and directly led to Chicago winning the division. Bears strength is point of attack setting the stage for linebackers & secondary to make big plays. They'll have to do it again or it will be a long season.
Prediction: 9 wins is within reach. If offensive line surprises - then Bears will challenge Green Bay. It's a longshot.

3 - Detroit Lions
Offense: Lions remain inconsistent. Big plays or big busts. Either way, this franchise is moving in the right direction - finally! Key to success is offensive line and decision making by QB Stafford. Lack of cohesiveness has been a theme for many years in Motor City. Will 2011 be the year these guys make it happen?
Defense: Front four is solid. Linebackers good vs run. Secondary - not good. They allowed opposing QB's to complete at a rate of 64$ in 2010. It's hard to stay in games without disrupting passing attacks. Expect improvement in all areas.
Prediction: 6 wins is a no brainer. Anything more is a sign Detroit is truly on the rise.

4 - Minnesota Vikings
Offense: Guess who isn't um-retiring? The Favre experiment has finally ended. One great season, one pathetic season. Adrian Pederson is the offense. Fumbling has always been an issue as highlighted in 2009 NFC Championship Game. He's great when no one touches him - keeps coaching staff wincing when surrounded by tacklers. Speedy receivers and talented TE. Problem for 2011 - QB.
Defense: Once thought one step from becoming elite unit of NFL. They're showing signs of cracking. Still solid, but slowing vs run & pass rush. These guys will be on the field for long stretches if offense fails to chew up clock again. Expect a burnt out unit when 4th quarter rolls around.
Prediction: It could be ugly. 6 wins might be a stretch.

Next up NFC South.

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