The Black and Blue division is looking very black and blue.
The Bears are the surprise of this division. While the Packers and Vikings garnered all the preseason talk, the Bears, who were absolutely pathetic in the preseason, have been able to put it together when it matters. Cutler has managed to keep his interceptions somewhat in check under Mike Martz’s offense, even though the running game has been a disappointment. Their recent matchup against the Giants is a huge red flag, however, as Cutler was sacked 9 times in the first half alone, exposing the protection problems that plagued the team in the preseason. If they don’t get better protection, Cutler, who suffered a concussion during the game, will have an extremely hard time staying healthy, let alone fighting for the playoffs.
Standout Players: Jay Cutler, Johnny Knox, Julius Peppers
Green Bay (3-1)
Green Bay which was a trendy pick for the division and by many the Super Bowl, has several issues. Injuries claimed Atari Bigby and Al Harris before the season started, important pieces to a defense that ranked 2nd in the NFL last year. Then more injuries to Ryan Grant and Bigby’s replacement, rookie Morgan Burnett, who are both out for the season, have the Packers in a very fragile position. Now the Packers just got news that their starting middle linebacker, Nick Barnett, is likely out for the season. To make matters worse their special teams and penalty issues which plagued them last year, have resurfaced in their games against the Lions and Bears. Still Green Bay is in good position, tied for the division lead with the Bears, so if they can avoid more injuries and work on their special team and penalty issues, they can make a good run at the division.
Standout Players: Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Charles Woodson
The Vikings have been a disappointment thus far. The forever young Brett Favre is perhaps regretting his decision to return, as his decision making ability, which was excellent last year, has returned to the levels that influenced the Packers to move on to QB Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings still have Adrian Peterson, however, and seem inclined to focus more on their running game with the current struggles of Favre, and the lack of talented receivers caused by the injury to Sidney Rice and migraine problems of Percy Harvin. The Vikings recent reacquisition of Randy Moss addressed there receiving depth in a very big way and since their roster is still loaded with talent, this team should still be considered a contender for the division crown.
Standout Players: Adrian Peterson, Visanthe Shiancoe
Detroit is finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although they are winless, this team in completely unrecognizable from the pathetic Lions teams of years past and the door is finally closing on what could be considered the longest period of futility of any franchise of any sport. Although the injury to Stafford was a minor setback, 1st round pick Jahvid Best is a huge improvement over any Lions running back in recent memory, and TE Brandon Pettigrew is now an additional receiving threat to compliment stud receiver Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron. They obviously won’t contend this year, but the future is bright for the Detroit Lions.
Standout Players: Jahvid Best, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew
Prediction: Packers overcome injury issues and win the division and Randy Moss and the Vikings are able to overcome the Bears late and winning a wildcard spot.