Just when you want to call it the return of the Black and Blue Division, you are reminded that these teams take to the air as much as any in pro football. The Chicago Bears were once the exception to this rule, however with reuniting Jay Cutler with WR Brandon Marshall, there will be footballs in the air in the Windy City. Don’t forget, the last time they played together Marshall caught 104 receptions for 1,265 yards and 6 touchdowns while both were voted to the Pro Bowl. That would go a long way in returning the Chicago Bears to the NFC Championship Game or beyond.
This is going to be the most competitive division in football this year. We have witnessed the rebirth of the Lions, the Green Bay Packers are one season removed from defending a Super Bowl championship, and you have a Chicago Bears team that has retooled on the run with some big name signings and acquisitions in recent years. The lone team out of contention this year will be the Minnesota Vikings. Sure stranger things have happened but to bank on a first time signal caller in Christian Ponder and RB Adrian Peterson returning from major knee surgery. How will they fare?
Detroit Lions 13-3 *
Green Bay Packers 11-5 #
Chicago Bears 10-6
Minnesota Vikings 3-13
Right now the perfect storm is brewing in Detroit. They are about to mature into a force that hasn’t been seen from this organization since the 1950s. You have to realize last year’s renaissance was no fluke. This year the defense will benefit from DT Nick Fairley being healthy from the start. His play will blossom with Ndamukong Suh and team sack leader DE Cliff Avril drawing double teams. Remember Avril signed a one year tender and will be playing for a bigger contract. He will be motivated to get after the quarterback.
Another benefit to the Lions attack will be the presence of RB Mikel Leshoure, who also missed all of last season and made it through the pre-season injury free. However the emergence of Joique Bell and Keiland Williams, who each rushed for 5.2 yards per carry in pre-season, will be there if Leshoure proves ineffective. The Lions ran with commitment and are intent on bringing balance to the offensive side of the ball. Ever since our first preview was written, The Chancellor’s crystal ball still comes up with the Lions winning this division on the arm of Matthew Stafford and a defense that is still making moves to improve against the pass. https://taylorblitztimes.com/2012/07/07/2012-detroit-lions-preview/ It’s rumored that veteran CB Drayton Florence could be headed to Detroit just 4 days after trading for former Redskin CB Kevin Barnes. The growth of these players and the overall maturation as a team will take this team deep into the playoffs and possibly the Super Bowl.
One team standing in the Lions way will be the Green Bay Packers who have bristled at the notion they have been passed up by their division rival. After all they did have a 15-1 campaign last year and swept Detroit in 2011. Yet their defense is too up and down and suffered a major setback with LB Desmond Bishop being placed on injured reserve and the player that can fill in, Frank Zombo, was placed on the PUP list. When you’re trying to improve on last year’s 32nd ranked defense, this is going in the wrong direction.
The one thing the Packers can do is move the football on offense. Aside from All World QB Aaron Rodgers the Packers have the best set of receivers in all of football.https://taylorblitztimes.com/2012/06/19/2012-green-bay-packers-preview/ They will be forced to handle more of the workload and brought in RB Cedric Benson to aid the ground game.
This year the Packers season will turn because of a murderous second half schedule. Its a good thing they have 3 of their first 4 at home because in weeks 11 through 15 they’re at Detroit, at the New York Giants, home to the Vikings and Lions, and then a trip to Chicago to face a Bears team who will be in the thick of things. This team could lose as many as 4 of those match-ups with a defense not playing up to what their capable of. You can’t just line up and outscore everyone. Eventually you have to have your defense play well and in 2012, the defense is going to hold this team back.
Which brings us back to Chicago… With Matt Forte now signed to a long term deal, the Bears have their ‘big three” in Cutler, Marshall, and Matt Forte. However this pre-season did see WR Johnny Knox injured and put on the Physically Unable to Perform list which will allow him to come back this season. The Lions and Packers had better have their “A” game going. Any slip in play will result in the Bears taking their place in the post-season. Right now The Chancellor’s crystal ball has them on the outside looking in. Just barely outside.
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