It is the opening of training camps around the NFL, so lets take a look at how the NFC North teams stack up. We will evaluate each unit and rank them among the division foes.
First up: Defense.
2008 AVERAGES (with NFL ranking)
Bears: 21.9 points (16), 334.7 yards (21), 241.2 pass yards (30), 93.5 rush yards (5)
Lions: 32.3 point (32), 404.4 yards (32), 232.2 pass yards (27), 172.1 rush yards (32)
Packers: 23.8 points (22), 330.4 yards (20), 202.8 pass yards (12), 131.6 rush yards (26)
Vikings: 20.8 points (13), 292.4 yards (6th), 215.6 pass yards (18), 76.9 rush yards (1)
1. Vikings: Pure strength with the Williams boys and Jared Allen, but will the suspensions hold?
2. Bears: Third-year DT Dusty Dvoracek continues to emerge among a talented unit that can be disruptive.
3. Packers: Top draft pick B.J. Raji will start out playing end, but can definitely play inside. Johnny Jolly and Cullen Jenkins hold the key up front.
4. Lions: DE Dewayne White quietly had 6.5 sacks last year and could improve on that total.
1. Bears: Anchored by the intense Brian Urlacher, this bunch is deep, especially with the addition of Pisa Tinoisamoa (Rams). But when does Urlacher start to lose a step?
2. Vikings: Chad Greenway is emerging as a star, while Ben Leber is underrated.
3. Packers: Aaron Kampman moves from Pro Bowl end in 4-3 scheme to outside linebacker in new 3-4 setup. His adjustment is the biggest concern.
4. Lions: Newcomers Julian Peterson and Larry Foote provide legitimacy to a talent-starved team.
1. Packers: Al Harris and Charles Woodson aren't getting younger and Nick Collins is unhappy with his contract.
2. Vikings: Antoine Winfield is the only notable name among this pretty good group.
3. Bears: Considering his dynamic return skills, CB Nathan Vasher should have a bigger impact. Safeties are suspect.
4. Lions: Cornerbacks are guys who could never establish themselves, safeties are unknowns.
1. Vikings: If the run defense can be as tough as it was last year and the unit can survive the suspensions to the Williams boys, they are the best.
2. Bears: Should see less time on the field due to an improved offense, thus becoming more effective.
3. Packers: The personnel is there for this to be an excellent group, but the new scheme holds plenty of questions.
4. Lions: Don't expect the rankings to improve much, although there will be slight improvement thanks to the linebacker additions.
About the Author
Written by Steve Drumwright