National Football Conference – North

Green Bay Packers: Expectations are high for the 2010 Packers, and they should be. Aaron Rodgers is a top-five quarterback in this league, and he will throw to one of the best receiving corps in the NFL. Protection is a concern, but the addition of first-round pick Bryan Bulaga should improve the O-Line, and if he doesn’t, Rodgers showed us last year that he doesn’t need great protection to produce. The defence choked in the playoffs last year, but expect them to step up and propel the Packers into Super Bowl contention.

Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings ended their season on a low, losing a heartbreaker to the Saints in overtime, and there hasn’t been much positive momentum since. The Vikings will be one of the best teams in the league this year, but they have some unresolved issues. A questionably healthy Brett Favre and instability at wide receiver make their passing game difficult to put any money on. It might not be an issue if Adrien Peterson has the kind of season he’s capable of, but he needs to hold on to the football. They’ve got a great defence and enough talent to make the playoffs, but too many question marks to win the division.

Chicago Bears: It’s hard to know what to make of this team, but expect a big improvement in their play. A more comfortable Jay Cutler should perform better under centre. Like Cutler, running back Matt Forte slumped last season, but he looks sharper now. This year’s defence is ready to take back some respect with the return of Brian Urlacher, their Peyton Manning. Season them with the super-talented Julius Peppers, and they’re a recipe for success. The Chicago Bears are our sleeper pick to make the playoffs.

Detroit Lions: For the first time in a while, Lions fans have reason to hope. Matthew Stafford has the look of a leader and a franchise quarterback, and he will improve his decision-making and efficiency. He has a monster wideout in Calvin Johnson, and rookie RB Jahvid Best could be the Lions’ third promising cub. On defence, Ndamokung Suh is a beast who will make his presence known in the trenches. They’ve added veteran defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch, whose experience will be invaluable for this young team. The Lions aren’t roaring yet, but things are definitely looking up.

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