Well, yeah . . .
1. Minnesota Vikings, 12-4
The Minnesota Vikings - I'm not exactly sold on them yet, but they probably will finish with a good record considering that they don't exactly have a hard schedule or anything like that. I think Minnesota's offense could easily be a Top 10 offense. Tavaris Jackson is set for a break-out year. When Jackson started for the Vikings last year, Minny had an over .500 record. Plus, Jackson struggled in years before because he didn't have talented recievers to pass to. He does now. And of course, Adrian Peterson. Even if he gets injured (like he did so many times in college) Chester Taylor is probably the best 2nd string running back in the NFL. The defense is drastically improved. Jared Allen is the best defensive end in the league, he will make a splash on defense. Rookie Erin Henderson is also valued very high with the Minnesota Vikings.
Bottom Line: The Vikings will make the playoffs but lose in the first round.
2. Detroit Lions, 9-7
I'm putting all of my homer comments away and throwing them in the trash, the Lions actually do have a good chance of making the playoffs. Yes, the collapsed at the end of the season last year but did you ever see how hard their schedule was? Dallas, New York, Green Bay twice, Minnesota and San Diego (throw in Kansas City in there as well). It isn't a cake-walk with that schedule. The Lions come back with a much improved team tho, they got a steal in the draft with Kevin Smith and Gosder Cherilus was a smart move - a big, aggressive O-lineman. Jon Kitna should do better with a more balanced running game. The Lions might have Top 5 recieving corps. A healthy Calvin Johnson, a healthy Roy Williams, Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey. Their defense has gotten better, they improved their secondary by adding a lot of players, the big one is Leigh Bodden. Their linebackers are very good.
Bottom Line: The Lions will make the playoffs (first time out of the Barry Sanders era) but then get killed in the wild card round.
3. Green Bay Packers, 8-8
Green Bay isn't the same team it once was. Brett Favre is gone . . . Aaron Rodgers isn't half as good as he ever was. Rodgers will definitely struggle and I wouldn't be surprised if he has more interceptions than touchdowns, even with his good recievers (which will struggle with the loss of Favre). The running game will have more pressure, once again, from the loss of Favre, and once again, it will struggle. Ryan Grant might rush for 1,000 yards but don't expect a great YPC. The defense is still one of the better ones in the league - lead by Aaron Kampman. I wouldn't expect that magic that this team had last year though, they will battle it out with the Lions for second place.
Bottom Line: Stay in contention for majority of season
4. Chicago Bears, 3-11
I don't care how good a team can be (in this case, the team isn't good, but besides the point) a team won't be able to go at least .500 with a bad quarterback. Even the Patriots couldn't make the playoffs with a bad quarterback. The Bear's quarterback battle right now is between Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton. Their runningback situation is the small bright spot of their offense, they have Matt Forte and Kevin Jones, a former first round pick who rushed for over 30 yards with his first carry as a Bear (too bad he is injury prone). Their defense is full of defensive players that used to be great but now are getting old. Brian Urlacher and Lance briggs are two examples.
Bottom Line: Won't even sniff the playoffs