NFC North preview

By By Cody Brunner

By Cody Brunner

Chicago Bears (13-3)

Although Brian Urlacher is on the downside of his career, he remains the greatest linebacker in the league. The All-Pro returns to a roster loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Defensive end Mark Anderson recorded 12 sacks in limited action a year ago and is expected to absorb a larger role this season. Much of the Bears’ success this season, however, will hinge on whether Rex Grossman pulls his head out of his ass and starts playing consistently. Hoping to help the struggling quarterback, coaches moved the flashy playmaking Devin Hester (six return touchdowns in 2006) over to receiver.

Biggest addition: SS Adam Archuleta (free agency)

Biggest loss: DT Tank Johnson (prison)

Circle your calender: Sept. 9 @ San Diego

Green Bay Packers (6-10)

As a diehard Packers fan, it hurts me to see Green Bay general manager Ted Thompson run out the clock on Brett Favre’s career. He has done absolutely nothing in terms of trying to improve the offense for Favre in the twilight of his career and seems content with mediocrity. Sure, he makes erratic throws, but you kind of have to take chances when your running back is Vernand Morency and your best wide receiver is Donald Driver. On a more positive note, the Pack returns every player on a severely underrated defense. Defensive end Aaron Kampman is one of the best at his position and causes a lot of problems for opposing offenses.

Biggest addition: Running back Brandon Jackson (draft)

Biggest loss: RB William Henderson, RB Ahman Green (free agency)

Circle your calendar: Sept. 23 vs. San Diego

Minnesota Vikings (5-11)

I’m not a huge fan of Vikings’ quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Granted he is young, but I don’t think the intangibles are there. Rookie running back Adrian Peterson hopes to help a running attack that ranked 16th in the NFL a year ago. On defense, the Vikings boast the best run-stopping unit in the league. Defensive tackles Pat and Kevin Williams are juggernauts in the middle and will deny anything that comes their way. Strong safety Darren Sharper remains one of the best at his position.

Biggest addition: RB Adrian Peterson (draft)

Biggest loss: none

Circle your calendar: Dec. 30 @ Denver

Detroit Lions (3-13)

The Lions suck. They really do. I’m sorry if my saying that puts anybody off, but it’s just a matter of fact. If the Lions had drafted franchise cornerstones instead of wide receivers the past half decade, they’d be in playoff contention. Detroit gave up an NFC-high 63 sacks and Jon Kitna threw more picks than any other quarterback in the conference with 22 a season ago, and I have a feeling it won’t be much better this season. I like Calvin Johnson’s athleticism and Mike Furrey’s hands, but they aren’t the person who’s throwing the ball. It’s going to be a long year.

Biggest addition: RB Tatum Bell

Biggest loss: CB Dre Bly

Circle your calendar: Oct. 28 @ Chicago