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NFC North: Are Vikings ready to take control?

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  • NFC North: Are Vikings ready to take control?

    NFC North: Are Vikings ready to take control?


    Overview

    The NFC North has belonged to the Packers the last three years, but there are signs that they are starting to lose their swagger.

    Start off with their loss to Minnesota in the wild-card game last season. Not only did the Packers drop that game at Lambeau Field, they seemed to panic and lose control as the Vikings took an early lead and never looked back.

    That is not the mark of a champion. Green Bay is still loaded with offensive talent and is led by the remarkable Brett Favre, but the defense appears to be quite vulnerable and that means the Vikings could be in a prime position to steal the division title.

    Don't write off the Lions or the Bears, either. Both teams seem to be moving in the right direction and could be in a position to steal the title if the Vikings are not as strong as expected. Detroit is loaded with great offensive talent, but head coach Steve Mariucci needs QB Joey Harrington to step up dramatically.

    The Bears should have the best and most cohesive defense in the division as DT Tommie Harris looks like a future star and FS Mike Brown returns from a terrible knee injury. MLB Brian Urlacher is a fearsome hitter who needs to become more consistent if he is truly going to be an elite player.

    Chicago head coach Lovie Smith knows his defense will perform, but the offense is questionable. Those questions became more pronounced when starting QB Rex Grossman broke his ankle in the team's second preseason game. He will miss a minimum of three months.

    Movers and Shakers
    The Vikings have made significant offseason moves both on and off the field. Red McCombs sold the franchise to real estate magnate Zygi Wilf. On the field, new acquisitions DT Pat Williams, CB Fred Smoot and LB Napoleon Harris could give Minnesota the nastiness that has been missing on defense for years.

    Rookie Mike Williams from USC is just one more weapon that the Lions have at their disposal. They also added former Colts TE Marcus Pollard to give them more versatility.

    The Packers have been relatively quiet in free agency the past two years, but they did bring in former Cleveland S Earl Little to help the secondary. QB Aaron Rodgers, the Packers' first-round pick, should take over for Favre some day. The biggest addition may have been the hiring of defensive coordinator Jim Bates.

    WR Muhsin Muhammad (16 TDs) was a dominant player for the Panthers last year and Bears GM Jerry Angelo thinks he can do the same for Chicago this year. Angelo also expects rookie Cedric Benson to upgrade the running attack, but a holdout kept him out of camp through mid August. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner was brought in to revive an offense that was inept last season.

    What to Expect
    Minnesota: The Vikings appear to be potent on offense thanks to Daunte Culpepper, and much improved on defense because of their aggressiveness in the free-agent market. They should have a great chance to come away with the title.

    Green Bay: The Packers have many holes, but they still have the amazing Favre, a slew of talent at the WR spot and a great running back in Ahman Green. It is a resourceful veteran team that should find a way to contend.

    Detroit: The Lions are loaded on offense but QB Joey Harrington needs to play more consistently. If he makes a few strides and the defense does not fall apart, the Lions could become contenders.

    Chicago: The Bears were one of the worst offensive teams in the league last year, but they hope that backup QB Chad Hutchinson has the arm strength and savvy to perform decently. If Hutchinson comes through and they get solid production from Benson, the Bears could become one of the most surprising teams in the NFL.

    It's been 20 years since the Bears roared to a Super Bowl title and Chicago has been dreaming of a return ever since. The injury to Grossman threw cold water on those unlikely dreams, but unheralded teams have been finding ways to step up in the NFL -- and the Bears would love to follow suit. If they did under these circumstances, it would be a shocker.
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  • #2
    Minnesota will win the division by default...

    Although, it remains to be seen how Moss's departure will affect them over the long haul...

    And if Detroit's offensive potential translates to actual production, they could give the Queens a run...
    " Look, forget the myths the media's created about the White House--the truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand."

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    • #3
      logically,I'm skeptical....

      but emotionally hopeful
      \'user\'user\'user
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      • #4


        Anybody need tickets? I got 4 seats on the 50...hey, uh, don't tell the commish, ok?

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        • #5
          Bears! Bears! Rookie power! Woo-hoo! Bears win teh division!!!111








          ... sorry. The drop Hutchinson/sign Benson moves have me a bit punchy.
          "At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed."
          – Frederick Douglass, doing an amazing job since 1852

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          • #6
            With all the new talent on defense they should be improved

            They won't be as explosive on offense but shouldn't need to be
            Go Cards ...12 in 13.


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            • #7
              I think you have to like Minnesota, even with Randy gone. Culpepper may be the best QB in the league. Whizzonator is gone for the season, right? That means Michael Bennet has to be the man. I keep waiting for Detroit to mature and get good, hasn't happened yet. Green Bay is toast, weak D and over the hill Favre. I'd like the Bears' chances with Grossman, not with the rook.
              Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law ~

              A.C.

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              • #8
                I think the Lions make the move this year.
                His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
                Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

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                • #9
                  "MLB Brian Urlacher is a fearsome hitter"

                  Seriously, who really thinks this? He's a fast linebacker who makes some really nice plays, but fearsome hitter? Please.
                  *Syria becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Iraq

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by dhaab@Aug 29 2005, 04:26 PM
                    "MLB Brian Urlacher is a fearsome hitter"

                    Seriously, who really thinks this? He's a fast linebacker who makes some really nice plays, but fearsome hitter? Please.

                    I think it. When someone that big and can move as fast as Urlacher, he's going to hit you hard.

                    I've also read accounts of players who say he hits hard.
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                    • #11
                      I know Dr. Z thinks he's soft, but I saw him from the sideline view when he was at NM, and he was an awesome physical specimen.

                      He also had a distinctive sound when he hit players, not unlike the way it sounds different when Pujols and Eck hit the ball.

                      I would describe him as being a heavy bat, if I may mix analogies.
                      His mind is not for rent, to any god or government.
                      Pointless debate is what we do here -- lvr

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CSD+Aug 29 2005, 03:43 PM-->
                        QUOTE(CSD @ Aug 29 2005, 03:43 PM)

                      • #13
                        Originally posted by dhaab+Aug 29 2005, 05:25 PM-->
                        QUOTE(dhaab @ Aug 29 2005, 05:25 PM)
                        Originally posted by [email protected] 29 2005, 03:43 PM

                      • #14
                        WTF is Mcallister talking about? I've never played against him, but he's the hardest hitter in the game? Ray Lewis could hit like woman for all this guy knows.

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                        • #15
                          Originally posted by CSD+Aug 29 2005, 03:43 PM-->
                          QUOTE(CSD @ Aug 29 2005, 03:43 PM)
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