The Northern boys get their preview here and I'll admit, I'm not real high on any team. I think the division winner is the only one that will be seeing post-season action.
The Bear defense fueled a surprising season in 2005 and I think they can be just as tough this year. But being good doesn't always mean luck will be with you. I mean let's face it, with an offense that was as bad as the Bear's was last year you have to have a few breaks, even with a ferocious D. That raises the question, will the offense be better this year? Running backs Thomas Jones and Cedric Benson should be pretty good but the Achilles heel has always been the dude behind center. Rex Grossman is going to get a shot this year (unless he just totally stinks it up in practices and the remaining pre-season games) but I still get the feeling Brian Griese will be the man by mid season either because Grossman's injured or just flat out sucks.
The Defense will save them until that point and then Griese will hold them together until the playoffs.
Division Prediction: 1st
Playoff Prediction: One and done
After the season Culpepper and Moss had a couple of years ago for this team you would have won a lot of bets if you had said one would be with the Dolphins now and one with the Raiders. The Vikes are in overhaul mode though and now it's up to Brad Johnson, Chester Taylor, and an O-line headlined by Steve Hutchinson to score enough points to win games. Yes I did say Chester Taylor. I know he played well enough for some in Baltimore to prefer him to Jamal Lewis when he was struggling but I still don't see him as the answer in the backfield. Look for Mewelde Moore to share time. They will beat some teams they shouldn't and lose to some teams they shouldn't. In other words they'll be a .500 team.
Playoff prediction: Nope
Mooch was too soft. New Coach Rod Marinelli is a hard ass. Supposedly that alone makes them better. Maybe that's true. Maybe it's also true that GM Matt Millen is lucky he still has his job. Draft bungles, bad facial hair, and hunting down people who show up with "Millen sucks" signs are all part of his profile. He also runs a brainwashing clinic on the side which the Lions Owner successfully completed last season. Mike Martz is the new offensive coordinator and as long as they make sure he has no control over when time outs are called he should help Detroit's offense. Marinelli also needs to retain veto power on play calls if the situation calls for a more conservative approach. For example when it's third and three on the opposing team's 6 yard line, your down by 10 approaching the 4th quarter, then perhaps a reverse call using a running back that has never practiced the play might not be the correct call (Yes I'm still bitter about this from the Rams 2005 season). Anyway, Kitna or McCown should be better than Harrington at QB and perhaps Kevin Jones or rookie Brian Calhoun will keep things afloat in the running game. The defense will be aggressive but I'm really not sure how good they will be.
Division Prediction: 3rd
Playoff Prediction: Not this year
Green Bay Packers
I hope the Packers take this division but being the cynic that I am, I'm picking them last. They didn't do anything to make their team better this year except have a decent draft. I thought A.J. Hawk was a great pick. He seems in the Ray Lewis, Urlacher mold. And in case you haven't heard, Brett Favre is back. Whether he regrets that 3 months from now is yet to be seen. I would love to see Ahman Green get back to what he was a few years ago. He's always been one of my favorite running backs in the league. Maybe it's because we are both big Batman fans. Ahman and I both wear our favorite caped crusader's P.J.s to bed at night and keeping a grappling hook under our pillow...you know just in case we ever need to make a quick escape out the window..... At any rate, I will root for a good season for the Pack and hope that I'm wrong about them.
Division Prediction: Last
Playoff Prediction: It might be a while