OUR NFL man Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) gives us his verdict on the NFC North division.
NFC North | 13th September 2015 – 3rd January 2016
The division that is probably the easiest to call regarding the winner. Over the years, what the North has given us was once known as ‘smashmouth football’. Very physical, which probably has a lot to do with the industrial cities where teams are based and weather in this part of the world. Brutal is probably the best description of the NFC North. To the teams, in the order they finished in 2014 …
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers. I could almost end there. My own favourite Quarterback…can one of the greatest QBs of his era take his team all the way? I think he can. The Packers have lost Jordy Nelson for the year but Rodgers just has so many other weapons at his disposal. Davante Adams and Richard Rodgers can make the step up to replace Nelson.
Randle Cobb will be the star of the group and Eddie Lacy is a contender for the Rushing title. The Defence may not be the greatest but like Newcastle in the 90s, Green Bay will win plenty just by out scoring everyone. Easy Division winners. Deep into the playoffs. NFC champions?
Somehow Detroit were an 11-5 team in 2014. What?! I was at Wembley for the game against Atlanta last season and saw Detroit 21-0 down at half-time. The fact that they came back and won 22-21 in the last seconds of the game said more about Atlanta and how bad they were.
Detroit have not had back to back winning seasons since 1995 and haven’t had a team to shout about since then either. You would think they have the right man under centre in Matt Stafford but after throwing 5000 yards in 2011 he’s been a bit of a bust. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate are decent wideouts but Stafford fell as low as 17th in the QB rankings last season.
Reggie Bush has never fulfilled his potential at Running Back, although Ameer Abdullah could be a star in the making. The Defence is hugely weakened as Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have moved on. Give the Lions a wide berth this year. An 8-8 record might be an achievement. Third place I think.
Adrian Peterson. One of THE great Running Backs of all time was forced to miss the entire 2014 season due to a domestic incident with his family. Disaster for Coach Zimmer, especially as he was introducing his new Quarterback and potential star Teddy Bridgewater. The young man really could have done with the space afforded by having a dual threat.
Having a game split between throwing and running the ball is essential in the NFL and the return of Peterson is huge for the Vikings. Mike Wallace will give Bridgewater options downfield. It’s not all positive as the Offensive Line has lost veterans and lots of Rookies will be given their chance. The Quarterback is not too bad running with the ball himself. I see a second place spot this year and if AP is back to his imperious best maybe a spot in the playoffs.
Ok, this is my team so this has not been easy to write. We are in trouble. Big trouble. If I could sum up Green Bay just by mentioning Aaron Rodgers, I can do the same for the Bears. Jay Cutler. Not a fan. Sulky, spoilt, inconsistent. On his way out hopefully. Cutler is a talented QB but also a guy that was benched toward the end of the season for the equally awful Jimmy Clausen.
We have a new Head Coach yes and John Fox did a wonderful job taking Denver almost all the way in 2013. However, no matter what you think of Cutler there is no Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey has missed the whole preseason, Rookie star Reciever Kevin White is out for the year, a sulky Matt Forte is in his last year. Oh and the Defence which was taken apart last year has been devastated by injury, loss of form and contract issues. Pro Bowl Cornerback Tim Jennings was even released in late-August. Last place, no doubt. Chicago win five or six at best.