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NFC North Preview

Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

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With the AFC out of the way, the NFC is now up for debate, starting in the North with the Packers, Bears, Lions, and Vikings.

  1. Packers (11-5): Green Bay has been the dominator of the division for quite some time, and I don’t see that changing in 2015. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best signal callers in the league, as we all know. One blow to Rodgers this year is that Jordy Nelson is gone for the season with a torn ACL. This means that Randall Cobb will have to be ready to carry a bigger part of this offensive load in the receiving game. This also gives more chances for DeVante Adams to play a bigger role as well. In the backfield, Eddie Lacey has proved to be a definite top 10 back in the NFL, and with arguably the NFL’s best fullback in John Kuhn blocking and catching balls, the offense in Green Bay seems to be at an all-time high. If you like Green Bay’s offense, you may like their D a little more. B.J Raji leads the front three D-linemen in their 3-4 defense, with the linebackers being led by Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers backing them up. In the secondary, they have a solid group of corners, led by Sam Shields and Casey Hayward with solid members filling the 3 and 4 spot in Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins. Based on all these superstars that the Packers are comprised of, all seems that there will be a year of success in the land of the Cheese heads.
  2. Lions (9-7): When you look at Detroit this season, there’s a little uncertainty for me. Of course we know about Megatron (Calvin Johnson for those who have been under a rock for the past decade) at wide receiver and Matthew Stafford at quarterback. As long as those two are running the show in the Motor City, the Lions will be an entertaining team to watch. Along with Johnson at wide receiver is Golden Tate to compliment him on his other side. The halfback situation is an interesting one with both Joique Bell and Ameer Abdullah both competing for more playing time, but both also compliment each other so well that it is a great thing to have both getting carries. On defense, they added big Haloti Ngata from Baltimore at nose tackle, bringing a whole new toughness to this defense. Stephen Tulloch is the best linebacker on this team, in my opinion, and will have to play a bigger roll to pick up the slack that has been left for him after Ndomokung Suh’s presence is no longer there. The Lions, as I said, are a tougher team to predict. Right now, it all just depends on how the pieces fit together.
  3. Vikings (8-8): I really think that the Vikings will be a very fun and exciting team to watch this year. They brought in maybe the fastest man in the NFL in Mike Wallace at receiver to compliment Charles Johnson and Cordarrele Patterson. Adrian Peterson is back this season after a suspension last season, and if he can play the way that he’s played his entire career and if Teddy Bridgewater can have a good year at QB, this offense could be one of the tops in the NFL. I love their offense, but I may like their defense a little more. Right away, you say Harrison Smith’s name, as he’s emerged as one of the better safeties in the league. They also have one of the stronger front seven in the NFL, with Chad Greenway on the weak side, and Everson Griffen and Brian Robinson flanking each other on the line. I think that the Vikings have a decent year, but fall just short of a playoff birth, but can build on it next year.
  4. Bears (5-11): Chicago has had a few down years over the past seasons, and the struggle may continue in 2015. Many fans have been fed up with their quarterback Jay Cutler for the past couple of seasons, which is a recipe for disaster when your fans and QB are at a difference. Offensively, though, they are a very sound group. Matt Forte is one of the NFL’s best backs, and with Alshon Jeffery leading the group of receivers, they should have a fine year. The defensive side of the ball is where I’m a little concerned. Jared Allen is aging and near the end of his playing days at linebacker and the rest of the linenacking corps is a younger group that may experience some growing pains. They brought in Antrel Rolle in the secondary to add some more experience to try and help lead this young defensive group. This will be more of a building block year for the Bears in my opinion.
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