This could end up the most competative division in the NFL in 2011 with the defending Champions Green Bay welcoming back a host of injured players and everyone will have to watch out for a resurgent Detroit who are quietly building a formidable defense. Add to this the fact that the Vikings have picked up a quality veteren QB in Donovan McNabb and still have a good number of the squad who so narrowly failed to reach the Superbowl in 2009, and writing off last seasons divisional winner and narrow NFC Championship game losers is not a wise choice. The bookies seem to think that the Packers will win the division and being a life long Green Bay fan who am I to argue. Seriously though anyone of the teams in this division are capable of winning it with a bit of good fortune and an injury free season and whoever progresses will be a major contender for the Superbowl in Feb. Here are our predictions:-
1 Green Bay
The Green Bay Packers overcame a host of obsticles in 2010 to win the Superbowl, and they are well fancied to repeat in 2011. They drafted well with both Sherrod and Cobb likely to figure early on, and have a lot of players coming back from injury which will really stengthen the squad. Losing Defensive Lineman Cullen Jenkins to one of their biggest rivals Philadelphia is a minor concern, however Mike Montgomery should be able to fill the role. Green Bay do look a little thin on a base 4-3 set up however Dom Capers prefers the 3-4 so hopefully it shouldn’t be too much of a worry. Otherwise the Packers look to have one of the deepest squads in the NFL (possibly just behing the Patriots) and if they play to their full potential then they should take the division on their way to the The NFC Championship game at least. Predicted finish 12-4
The race for second place is likley to be close however despite their tough schedule we think the Lions can finally give their long suffering fans something to cheer about, even if a Wild Card is beyond them. The addition of Mike Bell will give them a real ground threat, and if Matt Stafford remains fit they will rack up a few points in 2011. However their main strength is in defense with Corey Williams & Ndamukong Suh forming a formidable front and they also have good cover in the shape of rookie Nick Fairley who was a bit of a bargain. We think they can at least rack up a 9-7 record which should be good enough to take second in this highly competative division.
The bears looked a little lucky to us during their run to the 2010 NFC Championship game, and it is infrequent for a team to have two lucky seasons in a row, which is what Chicago would need to take the division. There has been some probably unjustified questions asked about Jay Cutlers commitment and trading their main offensive weapon TE Greg Olsen looks a decision reminiscent of a franchise looking to the future rather than the present. Marion Barvber will have a hgood season on the ground, and their defense will play tough,but overall we think they have went backwards while the rest of the division has improved. Despite the fact they have on paper at least an easy scedule we feel they they might have to settle for a 7-9 season.
4 Minnesota Vikings
2010 was a bit of a damp squib for the Vikings, as injuries and strange decisions by Brad Childers conspired to spoil Brett Favres final(?) season. The Vikings do have some talent and a team with an offense including Donovan McNabb and the likes of Adrian Peterson, Steve Hutchinson Percy Harvin Bernard Berrian are entitled to some respect. There are questions regarding the fitness of TE Visanthe Shiancoe and if he is not in the line up they will have to depend on veteran Jimmy Kleinsasser or rookie Kyle Rudolph which may leave them a little short in pressure situations.
Defensively they still have Kevin Williams and Jared Allen, but we are not sure thsi will be enough.
Overall we are not sure what to make of the Vikings and although we expect another losing season from them we could easily be proved wrong and they could if everything clicks be the surprise team of the NFC. However a lot would have to go their way and we forecast a 7-9 finish.