Cory’s Corner: The Packers remain the class of the NFC North

As we finally get closer to the NFL Draft, there should be plenty of happiness among Packers fans.

Why, you may ask?

Well, the Packers are still easily the class of the NFC North. They’ve got the best quarterback, best wide receiving tandem and the best running back. The safety position also has plenty of promise with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix entering his second season.

The rest of the teams in the division are filled with plenty of questions.

The Lions lost one of the best defensive lineman in the game. Even though they replaced him with Haloti Nagata, the 31-year-old won’t be able to match the athleticism of Ndamukong Suh. Also, the Lions are relying on journeyman Joique Bell to handle the feature running back duties. He’s never had more than 223 carries in his career. He’ll top that this year.

The Vikings have made the most news in the offseason. With Adrian Peterson being reinstated by the NFL, that doesn’t mean that he will be wearing purple next fall. And even if he remains in Minnesota, how much juice is left in his 30-year-old legs? Teddy Bridgewater raised a few eyebrows last year by earning a 6-6 record in his rookie campaign. If Mike Wallace proves that his time in Miami wasn’t a fluke, Bridgewater is likely to have a sophomore slump.

The Bears might have the biggest question marks of any team in the division. Last year, they may have had the best offensive weapons in the league coming into the season, but thanks to the sporadic play of Jay Cutler none of that mattered. Will new Bears coach John Fox be able to corral Cutler? But the biggest reason the defensive-minded Fox is in Chicago is to stiffen up the defense. Jared Allen looked old last year with 5½ sacks — his lowest output of his career. And this year he’s 33. The secondary usually looked confused as they were 30th in the league in pass defense. (Which is why Aaron Rodgers sliced through that unit for a combined 617 yards in two games.)

Unless those three teams have one of the best drafts ever, the Packers are the simple choice to win their fifth consecutive division title. Obviously, Rodgers is the equalizer, but the Packers even won the division when he missed seven games.

The rest of the NFC North has been playing catch-up ever since the Packers made a surprise Super Bowl run in 2010.

I don’t see that competitive margin shrinking anytime soon.

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Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn

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  • TedTomsin

    Agree Cory. I think the Packer’s have separated themselves much further from their division rivals coming into this season than in recent memory. They did this by what? Doing absolutely NOTHING but relying on themselves. Strike another one up for the legend Teddy Tee.
    Ted

  • Since ’61

    Cory – I agree that the Packers remain the favorites in the NFC North. But the Packers have some question marks themselves, especially on defense and on STs. DL, specifically NT, ILB and CB are all question marks at this time. The upcoming draft may mitigate some of these issues but there are no guarantees. Does Raji return to form, can Guion repeat his 2014 performance, will Shields play up to his contract in 2015? Will we have an ILB who can actually play next to Barrington or do we keep CM3 inside? Will whoever replaces T. Williams be effective? Can Perry, Datone Jones and CM3 stay healthy all season? Will special teams be able to block for FGs and PATs? Will the Packers actually have a return game? Will we improve at TE and will our #4 and #5 receivers step up? These issues will probably not stop the Packers from another division title. But in the playoffs these issues are the difference between winning and losing as we saw last year with our ST mistakes in Seattle (not to mention Rodger’s injury). We won’t know much more until after the draft, but if we can resolve our ST issues and solidify ILB and CB I like our chances. Thanks, Since ’61

    • Mike Sherman

      Special teams blocking has to get better. Last year was one of the worst displays I’ve ever seen, historically bad. Regardless of what TT does in the draft, I don’t think we will improve much at TE unless Rodgers takes a jump, but ILB and DL should both improve. Any competent player would be better than Hawk Lattimore, and Jones was last year and I think Raji Daniels Jones Peppers and maybe Guion/Pennel play well enough to make DL a strength. CB is what worries me, I like Hayward and Hyde but they’re best suited inside, playing them on the outside is a gamble and even if it works – like CM3 at ILB, it takes one of your best players out of their best position. Safety and WR should continue to get better, Hope the OL and RB can stay healthy. Notice how Starks has stayed relatively healthy as a change of pace back rather than starter?
      LIke our chances and agree with you 61, our limited flaws won’t cost us a shot at the playoffs, but will the super bowl.

  • Peter Maiz

    The Packers will likely win their division but I like the fact that MM won’t be calling the plays at offense and may not have a monumental collapse during playoffs. Nevertheless, let’s see what TT can do to fill the sore gaps with the draft.

  • Mike Sherman

    Win the division? of course, we were a few stupid plays from the Super Bowl last year, and I think depending on this years draft, the 2015 Packers will be better than 2014. Don’t want to sound like a d-bag, but anything less than a Super Bowl win would feel like a disappointment, as long as the team stays relatively healthy. Should have won last year and 2011. Sorry if it sounds like my expectations are high, but I thought we were best team in the NFL headed into the postseason those years.
    Vikings might be a decent team this year, but Lions and Bears clearly are worse than last year……. unless they draft a couple of studs tomorrow. I think MM and TT are more concerned about home field advantage in the playoffs rather then winning the division