The NFC North looks like being a two team race again this year as although both Chicago and Detroit are slowly improving they are still lack enough squad depth to make any impact. Still both should improve on 2009.
The big question for 2010 in the NFC North is will Brett Favre be as consistent as last season? If he can rack up the same or better numbers then the Vikings will win the division and should be strong contenders for the Super Bowl. This is a big if and given Green Bay have improved a bit on last year the division could be close.
The Minnesota Vikings have quality in every position and by picking up Lito Sheppard and drafting Chris Cook they have sorted their secondary which was the only slightly weak area on the roster in 2009. The loss of RB Chester Taylor will not affect their offense as rookie Toby Gerhart looks well capable of taking the back up role and their offensive line looks one of the best in the NFL with the left side being particularly strong thanks to the Hitchinson, McKinnie combination. The defense is rock solid both on the line and in the secondary where they have upgraded a bit and it could be argued they have the most complete team in the NFL.
So where could it go wrong? Well Brett Favre could get injured and there would be questions regarding whether Travaris Jackson is capable of winning the big games. Also their schedule is not the easiest i have ever seen with trips to several teams who will have post season aspirations. Still they should rise to the occasion and a repeat of last seasons 12-4 looks on the cards.
The Green Bay Packers have been steadily improving and even back in 2008 when they had a poor season the developing quality was there for all to see. They had an excellent draft getting Bryan Bulaga who will fill a gap on the offensive line and Mike Neal looks like a good fit for their 3-4 defense. The loss of Kampman & Montgomery shouldn’t be too much of a problem and overall their young team look likely to improve and could match their efforts in 2009. The offensive line still looks a worry and they will have to give Aaron Rogers better protection if he is to carry them deep into the playoffs though. It should be close but Green Bay will probably have to settle for a Wild Card slot again this season.
The Chicago Bears had a poor 2009 finishing 7-9 despite mortgaging their 2010 draft to get QB Jay Cutler from Denver. Picking up Julius Peppers and Chester Taylor has added a little to the squad, but the losses of Ogunleye and Pace sort of negates this. Given they have not been able to draft any impact players its hard to see how they can overhaul the Packers or Vikings. Cutler should have a better season in 2010 (well it would be hard to have a worse one) and they might scrape to 8-8.
The Detroit Lions are slowly starting to build a team but they are still a year or two away from a 50-50 season. They had a great draft picking up one of the best DT prospects in years in Ndamukong Suh, he will have a huge impact on their D Line, and in Javid best they have a RB with promise. Still two good draft picks dont make a team and they have had another year of comings and goings which will not help build a stable team. Given that Matt Stafford will be a year wiser and that the addition of Suh will fire up the defense the Lions can probably look forward to a 3-11 or possibly 4-12 season, and who knows they might even manage a divisional win; probably at Chicagos expense.
Overall Predicted Finishing Order
1. Minnesota Vikings
2. Green Bay Packers
3. Chicago Bears
4. Detroit Lions
2009 Finishing Positions
Minnesota Vikings 12-4
Green Bay Packers 11-5
Chicago Bears 7-9
Detroit Lions 2-14