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.——————
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