Teams in predicted order of finish
Green Bay Packers:
King Rodgers of
the great white North
In each of five seasons as Green Bay’s starting QB, Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 3,922 or more yards, tossed 28 or more TDs and never had more than 13 passes intercepted. With 171 TDs and 46 INTs over that stretch, the former Cal star and the Packers have won 11, 10, 14 and 11 games the last four years, and the NFC North is entirely under their control until proven otherwise. This year, they might even have a running game behind heralded rookie Eddie Lacy from Alabama, who knows a thing or two about playing in the postseason.
The Green Bay Packers
Every year the Bears put a defense on the field that gives the team a chance in the playoffs. Even without retired LB Brian Urlacher, the unit should shine again behind DE Julius Peppers (11.5 sacks), former Wildcats star Lance Briggs (2 INT returns for TD) and CB Charles Tillman (an absurd 10 forced fumbles) . On offense, RB Matt Forte (1,434 rushing and receiving yards) and WR Brandon Marshall (1,508 yards, 11 TDs) will help QB Jay Cutler put enough points on the board to finish second behind the Packers.
Sky is limit for Megatron’s
minions, but who trusts them?
Following their first playoffs in 2011 since 1999, the Lions fell off the boat again (4-12) and continued their trend of finding strange new ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. But there is hope once again in the Motor City. RB Reggie Bush gives them the game-breaker (six 20-plus yard runs in 2012 to the Lions’ four) they’ve been missing since RB Jahvid Best in 2011. Calvin Johnson is Calvin Johnson. DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley were the best DT combo in the league the last half of 2012 and came into acting like pros. But alas, these are the Lions. The most talented roster since Barry Sanders suited up probably means 8-8 .
Peterson will be Ponder-ing
what could have been
After 2,097 rushing yards, 12 TDs and a ridiculous 27 20-plus-yard rushes in 2012, Adrian Peterson might feel slighted that we consider Rodgers and Johnson the two best in the division. The Vikings should hope he feels that way, because he must carry this team if it hopes to repeat its playoff effort from 2012. QB Christian Ponder isn’t bad, but with Rodgers, Cutler and the Lions’ Matthew Stafford in front of him, and with no game-breakers outside of Peterson, the Vikings are headed for the cellar in 2013.
Eddie Lacy, RB, Packers
He’s not the fastest guy, and he’s not the biggest guy. But he’s still really big and plenty fast. If he is as advertised, the Packers will run away with the division – literally and figuratively.