2007 NFC North Preview

2007 NFC North preview from MadduxSports.com. In addition to the free season previews you can find the best NFL Picks against the spread. Also for the online football bettors, bookmark the NFL odds page to have at your disposal.

NFC North Division Preview
By Adam Barone

1. Bears: If Chicago is unable to repeat as division champs this season, head coach Lovie Smith should just be fired, no questions asked. The Bears are the clear-cut best team in the “black and blue” division, mostly because they’ll be the only team that isn’t black and blue. Despite trading away RB Thomas Jones, their leading rusher of each of the past three seasons, the Bears offense will be one of the NFC’s elite as long as Rex Grossman can find a way to establish a higher level of consistency. Chicago drafted TE Greg Olsen out of Miami in the first round, and they’re excited about the new dimension that his pass receiving ability will bring to the offense. By far the consensus best tight end available in the draft, Olsen will bring Grossman a safety net over the middle or in the flat, as well as stretch the middle of the field and draw the defense’s safety help off of the outside receivers and downfield. RB Cedric Benson will get the opportunity both he and the team have been waiting for since he was drafted with the fourth overall pick two years ago. The defense is still missing LB Lance Briggs due to a contract dispute and is now without DT Tank Johnson. Briggs will likely join the team after the preseason in order to not miss out on any paychecks, and even though Johnson was a quality lineman, the Bears feel they have enough depth at tackle despite also losing Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone to free agency. Chicago also added S Adam Archuleta to bring depth to the position because of Mike Brown’s tendency to get injured. Despite the difficult schedule they’ll be facing outside of their six division contests, the Bears should be able to come out ahead at 10-6.

2. Lions: Choosing the best of the worst is a tough task, especially in a division with three teams as bad as the three that will be chasing Chicago. The Lions seem to have the edge over the Vikings and the Pack, however, simply because of the higher quality of offensive weapons they bring to the table. After starting the season with anything but consistency, RB Kevin Jones managed to become one of the better backs in the conference as the season progressed. The team added RB Tatum Bell from Denver and signed former Michigan State RB T.J. Duckett to help Jones and solidify the backfield behind QB John Kitna. Kitna will be throwing to the best group of receivers in the division by far, maybe the best in the NFC. WR Mike Furrey came from obscurity last season to catch 98 passes alongside pro bowl WR Roy Williams, who made 82 catches of his own. Because they couldn’t pass up the opportunity, they drafted WR Calvin Johnson #2 overall. Johnson was decidedly the best player in the draft and may just be the best receiving talent ever to enter the league. With all the new weapons and Mike Martz running the offense, Lions fans will expect this to be the year that the team makes a playoff run. The defense will be where the trouble factors in. Last season they ended up with the fifth worst defense and second worst record in the entire NFL and 3-13, even with the offensive success they had, so the mere addition of a third receiver will only go so far. Detroit, however, went 0-6 in their division, a stat that is certain to improve in the upcoming campaign. They seem to think an awful lot of themselves too, with multiple team members predicting a ten win season. That’s not going to happen though, in reality I’ll bet on 7 wins, which is still a nice improvement over 2006.

3. Packers: The only things keeping the Pack out of the basement are Brett Favre’s leadership and their decent defense. They have a defense that includes LBs A.J. Hawk and Nick Barnett, CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harris, and DE Aaron Kampman, but they’ll need more than that. Green Bay drafted Nebraska RB Brandon Jackson to team with RB Vernand Morency as Ahman Green’s replacement after Green went to the Texans as a free agent. Jackson is basically a downhill, cut-back runner without break away speed, but Morency will be depended on for quickness and breakaway speed. They still have WR Donald Driver, but he’s nothing too special, and Favre is getting too up in age to be quite as effective as he used to be. Green Bay will be solid on defense, but struggle to move the football. Favre will give retirement serious consideration after they finish 6-10.

4. Vikings: Drafting RB Adrian Peterson with the intent of pairing him up with incumbent RB Chester Taylor was a nice move for the team. The Vikings have no receivers and have, for some ridiculous reason, given their starting quarterback job to Tarvaris Jackson. I still have no idea why they’d do such a thing. Adding to this genius plan is the lack of a veteran backup as a safety net for if…when Jackson proves incapable of running an NFL offense. Brooks Bollinger, a former Wisconsin Badger is the backup. He seems to be a capable backup, but ran more of a college style offense at Wisconsin in which he did a lot of running. The defense was the best against the run in the NFL in 2006, which is a strength that the Vikings will certainly try to build on. They are legitimately tough to run against, which caused opponents to attack their mediocre pass defense even more, thereby making the run defense look even more dominant. Minnesota’s 2006 pass defense was worst in the league in attempts per game as well as yards per game. Having a quality running game and ability to stop the run usually leads to success in the NFL, so if by some miracle they can find a way to develop a passing attack, the Vikings could do much better than the 5-11 that I see them ending up at.

We have broken down each NFC North team in-depth. Read the individual NFL previews of the Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings from Maddux Sports.


2007 NFL Team Previews

As usual Maddux presents its anual 2007 NFL preview sorted by divisions. From each division you can find our predictions as well an individual team report of each National League Football Team. Click here to return to the main NFL season preview page.

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