NFC North is Wide Open

The dust is beginning to clear after one of the more bizarre offseasons in the recently created NFC North. Sports radio conversations have begun to turn towards the usual preseason optimism where the paying, preseason pundits have often placed the Lions in the Super Bowl. A 13-10 preseason victory over the defending champ Giants has not tempered any positive thoughts, nor has the loss of Favre to the AFC. The division includes the Lions and three teams truly searching for their souls this fall.

Quick, which team finished last in the NFC North last season? Surprisingly, it was the defending NFC Champion Chicago Bears who were swept by their 7-9 colleagues – the Detroit Lions. The Bears have gone in the wrong direction in the offseason, waiving back Cedric Benson and having to rely on a rookie and Kevin Jones to carry the load this season. The new receiving corps also features Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd instead of Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad. Plus, Rex Grossman is still on the QB hot seat in the Windy City.

The nightmare in Packerland has only begun this year. Most NFL observers believe it’s only a matter of time before the defending division champs lose Aaron Rodgers due to a number of reasons. The Packers keep telling themselves that they’re focused on the task at hand and it seems like only lip service. The first preseason game may not be a good indicator of this, but an average showing did not silence any detractors.

The Vikings may be the best team going into the 2008 season. Like any other team they did lose stalwarts in Dwight Smith, Mewelde Moore and Kelly Holcomb. The team will be playing with heavy hearts this season with Kenechi Udeze undergoing Leukemia treatments. On the field, Minnesota still has a strong defense and they still have Adrian Peterson turning heads. Missing the playoffs by one game last season, the team will be prepared to make a drive this season with a questionable QB at the helm.