The North, which used to be one of the laughing stock divisions in the NFL not too long ago, has turned itself into a powerhouse of late. Green Bay is coming off a Super Bowl season that saw their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, truly put himself into the elite quarterbacks in this league. The team they beat to get there, the Chicago Bears, are also in the division and sport pretty well the same team that got them to within one good drive of the Super Bowl. The Lions are this years it team and one who everyone expects to make the jump from the bottom of the league to truly contending for a playoff spot. As for the Vikings, well they are only two years removed from a heartbreaking NFC championship loss and, after all, still have Adrian Peterson.
Aaron Rodgers; QB Green Bay Packers: My pick to be the MVP of the entire league, Aaron Rodgers put a packers team without a running game on his back last season and carried them all the way to their first championship since Brett Favre did it in the mid 90's. He is the best there is at combining an ability to move in the pocket and then deliver a ball with perfect accuracy and touch, and makes the playmakers around him look like all-pro football players at times. I expect career highs across the board and not that Ryan Grant and James Starks give him somewhat of a running game, another Super Bwol is defiantly possible.
Julius Peppers; DE Chicago Bears: The trendy pick here would be Ndamukong Suh, who should have a great season in his own right, but people have seemed to forget just how good Peppers can be and I think this year he gives people an eye opening reminder. A truly disruptive force in the running, and especially in the passing game, Peppers had a great season in Chicago last year at which to build on and a defensive player of the year calibre season could defiantly be in the cards for this monster from the midway.
Donovon McNabb; QB Minnesota Vikings: This is the best acquisition by default. The Vikings had Christian Ponder, Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar on the roster when they acquired him, and a veteran guy to lead the team this year was a must. McNabb might be getting a little old but he can still play the game and is one of the true professionals out there. His accuracy may have gone a bit, and he may have lost a step in terms of his ability to move in the pocket, but plenty of teams are doing worse
Rookie of the Year
Gabe Carimi; OT Chicago Bears: This is more because of the need for Carimi in Chicago the his ability, but he should step right into the right tackle spot for the Bears and I think he'll do a fine job. He's a big body who is just exactly what the Bears needed going into the draft, and he fell right into their arms at the end of the first round. Look for him to be an immediate success in Chicago, and help shore up what was one of the worst lines in the league last sesaon.
Sam Shields; CB Green Bay Packers: We saw alittle of what he could do during the playoffs last season, and he'll be called upon more this season with an aging Charles Woodson needing to keep his snaps a little lower in order to keep fresh for the end of the season. Again, he showed what he could do last season, stepping in during the biggest game of them all and playing the position well while limiting his mistakes. He'll be counted on to do the same this year in Green Bay.
Percy Harvin; WR Minnesota Vikings: Although one of the most electrifying and exciting players in the league to watch, his effectiveness has a slot weapon will be drastically decreased without a down the field, vertical weapon beside him. Last season it was Randy Moss or Sidney Rice, and at times when those two weren't in the line-up Harvin clearly struggled to gain the space and time necessary for him to be his most effective. This season he could face those same problems.
November 24th, 2011; Week 12 - Green Bay Packers v. Detoit Lions: The Lions schedule up until this point is relatively soft, and they could come into this game in a legitimate spot to make playoff push. How they do against the cream of the crop in the conference will be a huge teller in whether or not they truly have what it takes to finally make it to the playoffs after what seems like ages of being at the bottom of the league.
1. Green Bay Packers (12-4)
2. Chicago Bears (9-7)
3. Detroit Lions (7-9)
4. Minnesota Vikins (6-10)
The Green Bay Packers should again be one of the teams to beat in the NFC, and should definitely improve on the ten win regular season they put up last season. The Bears, although given very little respect by a lot of people, are moving into the second year in a Mike Martz system, which only bodes well for Jay Cutler and the offence in Chicago. If the line can keep Cutler standing, they could contend for a wild card spot. The Lions I feel are a bit over hyped. They are going to need Stafford to do what he has yet to and play a full season, and the secondary is awful. They are about a year from truly mattering in the NFC, while the Vikings come in with just too much turnover in a lockout shortened season. The talent is there and they have a future, just not in 2011.