Monday, June 18, 2012
2012 NFC North NFL Season Preview
Guest Post by Niles Pender - NFL Fan Appeal
The NFC North is one of the most polarizing divisions in football, and they have been for years. The division always seems to have at least one team on the brink of greatness, whether it’s the Bears 2006 Super Bowl run, the Vikings coming within one play of making the Super Bowl in 2009, or the Packers’ Super Bowl win a couple of years ago. Just last year, the Packers were only one game away from completing a perfect season. Let’s take a look at each team’s chances for success in 2012.
There’s not much that can be said about the Packers that hasn’t already been discussed. According to statistics and most analysts, Aaron Rodgers was the best quarterback in football last season and has been for quite some time. There’s no reason to think that this won’t remain the case during the upcoming season. The balance in Rodgers’ game is just as impressive as his arm strength. He always throws it to whoever’s open and doesn’t lean on one player or another during possessions. Whether it’s Jordy Nelson or Greg Jennings, Rodgers finds whoever is open.
The team’s big question mark for 2012 is going to be their defense, which was ranked near the bottom of the league in several key categories last season. Green Bay should be able to continue this success during the next season, but they’ll need to improve their defense in order to do so. They used their first few draft picks to bolster the defense, adding linebacker Nick Perry in the first round and cornerback Casey Hayward in the second.
Aside from the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions are a football team that everyone will have their eyes on during 2012. It wasn’t that long ago that the Lions were totally inept, managing to go 0-16 during the 2007 campaign. It’s amazing to compare that team to last year’s Lions squad, and the team that Detroit will be putting on the field during 2012, and see how far the franchise has come. Last year saw them go 10-6 before losing in the Wild Card round to the New Orleans Saints.
The upcoming season should see more of the same from the Lions. Ndamukong Suh, Calvin Johnson and Jahvid Best are all going to be returning to action for the team. Obviously a great deal of Detroit’s ability to make the most of their talent will hinge on the health of quarterback Matt Stafford. When he’s healthy, there aren’t very many secondaries in the league that can compete with him. Backing up this statement is the fact that he threw for over 5,000 yards last season, becoming just one of a handful of players to ever do so. If he stays healthy in 2012, the team will be able to do great things.
Rounding out the division are the Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings, two squads that went 8-8 and 3-13 last season, respectively. In Chicago, the problems with the team weren’t correlated as much with their overall talent level as they were chemistry and health issues. Jay Cutler dealt with a couple of injuries last season. His durability has always been a concern, but it only became a major issue last season. The team actually had a strong start. To improve the squad and perhaps take away some of the reliance on Cutler, the team added former Raiders running back Michael Bush during the offseason. They also now have a solid backup for Cutler, having signed Jason Campbell, another former Raider.
Unfortunately for Vikings fans, their team’s issues aren’t as minor. There are major talent issues in the organization, and one can’t help but feel sorry for Adrian Peterson watching his prime go by while the rest of the team struggles so much. The team added a number of rookies early in the draft, including safety Harrison Smith, but a fast turnaround doesn’t seem likely in 2012.
We said at the beginning that the NFC North is always in the mix, and 2012 looks like it will be the same. With the Packers and Lions each retaining the bulk of their squads and the Bears managing to regroup a little bit, it looks like a sure thing that at least one of these teams will make another deep playoff run. The only question remaining is which team it will be.
Posted by Tiger Hebert at 2:10 PM