August 7, 2012

3-Way NFL Preview: NFC North

Green Bay Packers
W17L:  12-4  (1st seed, defeats Pittsburgh in Super Bowl)
Forecaster:  12-4  (1st seed, loses to New England in Super Bowl)
Random:  7-9  (4th seed, defeats Oakland in Super Bowl)

W17L's Take:  As a Packers "fan", I generally shy away from picking them because I don't trust them.  But I know the offense is good enough to get them to 12-4 despite their poor defense.  And after that, I just didn't see any team that I thought would beat them.  Obviously I don't think Green Bay as a Super Bowl lock, but they're the closest thing the NFL has.

Forecaster's Take:  Not only does the Random projection think the Packers will go 7-9.  Not only does it expect the Packers to win the division at 7-9.  Not only does it think the Packers will win a playoff game.  It has the Packers winning the Super Bowl after going 7-9!!  What you should really know about the Packers is that they are the best team in the NFC, and a close second in the league to New England, thanks to a high-scoring offense and lots of first downs via penalty.

Chicago Bears
W17L:  10-6  (6th seed, loses to Green Bay in Divisional Round)
Forecaster:  5-11
Random:  6-10

W17L's Take:  The Bears were great in 2010.  They were on their way to the playoffs in 2011 before the Jay Cutler injury.  There's no reason to expect a change in performance in 2012, especially with Brandon Marshall teaming up with Cutler again.

Forecaster's Take:  The Bears will be the 5th-worst team in the league, as they don't force teams to run enough and are very passive on defense as far as penalties are concerned.

Minnesota Vikings
W17L:  7-9
Forecaster:  7-9
Random:  7-9

W17L's Take:  I've had a lot of respect for the Vikings roster over the last few years, and giving them 4 more wins than they had last year seems to be a sign that I still show that respect.  Adrian Peterson will be back and should be a least a very good running back, Christian Ponder should show improvement, and the defense is good enough to take this team a step in the right direction.

Forecaster's Take:  The Vikings should improve over last year, thanks mostly to its ability to run for first downs.

Detroit Lions
W17L:  8-8
Forecaster:  7-9
Random:  3-13

W17L's Take:  Like the Texans, the Lions had their breakthrough last season but should fall back a little this time around.  Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson are awesome, but I don't think the pieces around them are good enough to guarantee them a playoff spot.

Forecaster's Take:  The Lions can't run for first downs and take too many plays to get things done, which is why they will lose a few more games than in 2011.

For an explanation of the Forecaster and Random projections, go here.  Teams are ranked by total wins over the three projections.

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