The Vikings are not going to have an easy road to the division crown though. The Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears will challenge the Vikings for the division. Aaron Rodgers emerged last season as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and the Green Bay Packers had even better defensive statistics than the Vikings last season (#2 overall; #1 against the run). However, the same defense gave up 51 points to the Arizona Cardinals during the first round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bears made the biggest splash this offseason adding five-time Pro Bowler and two-time First-Team All-Pro Julius Peppers. If Jay Cutler can cut down on his interceptions, Chicago will join the Packers in the wild card hunt.
As for the Lions, well, we’ll have to see if Casey Fitzsimmons decides to make a comeback from retirement.
NFC South: Troy K
Picking a winner here should be easy, right? The division houses the current Super Bowl champions, the New Orleans Saints, who have managed to hold together the core of their team (offensive/defensive playmakers and coaches). So it should be easy for the Saints to win the South…
Unfortunately, things aren’t that easy in the NFC South, as history is against the Saints. Since 2002, no division champion from the South has claimed the title consecutively, and no division champ has even made consecutive postseason appearances. Going on history alone, the Saints are a good pick to finish last in the strange NFC South.
If we follow through the South’s crazy history to this season then Tampa Bay, in fact, should emerge as division champions after finishing last in 2009. Sounds outrageous, right? Well, the history of the South shows that the team that finishes last has won the division six times out of seven in the season following their last place finish, and that one rogue season, 2008, saw Atlanta pick up a wild card berth.
So while my head says New Orleans should make a good run at the division title, hopefully riding the good vibes of their first Super Bowl title, I can’t discredit history and that means not discrediting Tampa Bay.