~~For the past few years, no team in the NFC has experienced more consistent success than the Green Bay Packers. Not only have the Packers won their division annually, but they have also captured a Super Bowl victory in that span. But, times are changing. It appears that the NFC North, a division that includes the Lions, Bears, and Vikings, will challenge the Packers for the division crown this year. But, will they? Here are the contenders:
Detroit Lions 2013 Record: 7-9 (3rd in the NFC North)
The Lions are a team that you always have high hopes for, but it never really pans out for them once the season begins. This year is the same way. They have a new offense with a new coach and a new set of weapons for Matthew Stafford to work with. Led by Calvin Johnson, Stafford, Reggie Bush, and others, the Lions should have an explosive offense. But, their defense needs to dominate in order to contend in this division.
Chicago Bears 2013 Record: 8-8 (2nd in the NFC North)
The Bears are another team who appear to have an explosive offense. Jay Cutler is back and is looking to have a bounce back season. And, with a running back like Matt Forte, and a set of receivers that includes Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, it should be fairly easy for him. Head coach Marc Trestman is an offensive guru, so I expect the Bears to have success offensively. But, like the Lions, defense is the only issue. The Bears tried to improve their defensive line this offseason, but there are too many holes to be fixed. I expect them to win at least 9 games this season.
Green Bay Packers 2013 Record: 8-7-1 (1st in the NFC North)
Last year was a huge disappointment for Green Bay. It was an absolute nightmare. But, somehow the Packers escaped with the division crown once again. Last season, Green Bay's biggest problem was their defense. This offseason, the Packers picked up menacing pass rusher Julius Peppers in free agency and drafted hard hitting safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to help improve their defense. Also, the Packers were smart to resign both BJ Raji and Sam Shields, which will help the Pack in the future. And, we can't forget about their offense. Aaron Rodgers is back and hungry for another Super Bowl ring, while Eddie Lacy plans to bulldoze his way through the competition. As a Packers fan, I have high hopes for the 2014 Packers. I expect no less than 10 wins from the Packers.
Minnesota Vikings 2013 Record: 5-10-1 (Last in the NFC North)
Then there are the Vikings. Minnesota is coming off one of the worst seasons in franchise history in terms of defense. Their defense was absolutely atrocious. But, with new head coach Mike Zimmer, a former defensive coordinator with the Bengals, the Vikes hope to have a defense that can stop somebody. Offensively, the Vikings have a new attitude. They drafted Teddy Bridgewater, who plans to steal Christian Ponder's job and make the Vikings offense more complete. And, who can forget about Adrian Peterson? AP will probably grind out 1,000 yards once again and prove why he is the best back in the game.
My Pick: Packers
At the end of the day, the Packers are the best all-around team in this division. They have a great offense and a workable defense that can overpower the NFC North competition. But, as good as I think the Packers will be, they will be challenged by both the Bears and Lions for this year's NFC North crown.
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