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2011 Division Previews: NFC North

NFL’s Most Athletically Gifted Tight End

1. Green Bay Packers (11-5) – I’m as big a Tom Brady fanatic there is, but Aaron Rodgers is the game’s best quarterback at this moment in time.  It helps he can make plays on the run when the pocket collapses, which often happens, behind a very average offensive line.  Still, during these throws on the move, he puts enough mustard behind the pigskin without losing his pinpoint accuracy.  His playoff run last season was extraordinary, one for the ages, aside from the second half of the NFC title game in Chicago.  Yet, Rodgers made the vaunted Steelers defense look like the Akron Zips in the Super Bowl.  Legendary status.  He was on a level few have ever reached before.  With Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson to zing the rock to, how can you contend with the Packers pass attack?  Oh, and the dynamic Jermichael Finley is returning from injury.  How is this fair?  Also, Ryan Grant will be back to share carries with James Starks in the ground department.  With firepower abundant on offense, it’s clear Dom Capers’ potent defense follows the same route as the high-octane offense.  Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Nick Collins all are threats to make a pick-six at any time during the course of a contest.  With Clay Matthews and B.J. Raji among the elite at their respective positions, should we have the Cheeseheads take on the AFC Pro Bowl squad in Hawaii, granted, they don’t have reservations for Indy come the first Sunday of February.

2. Chicago Bears (10-6) – Are we certain the Bears have offensive issues?  Or are all the pieces in place?  The offensive line remains the team’s biggest weakness, however, it looks much better than it did at this time last year.  Jay Cutler not tough enough?  I beg to differ.  Too inconsistent, throws way too many picks?  Only 16 last season, ten less from the previous campaign.  Consider this: Cutler was seventh-best in yards per pass attempt.  So, he stayed aggressive and took risks, capitalizing on the big play via the air.  He also improved his QB rating by almost eight points from his first run with the Bears.  While the team didn’t reward him with a prime-time addition at receiver, unless you really believe Roy Williams will be revived under former Lions offensive coordinator Mike Martz, they did make it a point to upgrade the goal-line and red zone offense (second-worst scoring percentage among playoff teams) with Marion Barber.  Not a tall, red zone receiving target, but nonetheless, a powerful runner to help the goal-line woes.  Yet, if Devin Hester doesn’t make a significant jump as a receiver, how will the offense be able to compete with the likes of New Orleans, Green Bay, Atlanta, New York and Philadelphia?  Cutler’s No. 1 target, Johnny Knox, was fifth-best in real estate per haul, but only corralled 51 balls in ’10.  Explosive, but not enough touches.

So, where the does the true problem lie?  One word: Martz.  He can either be the reason why the offense transforms into one of the best or it suffers.  Correlation with his play-calling was apparent last season.  Just look at when Cutler threw the ball 39 or more times; the Bears lost on all three occasions.  A more balanced offense, as seen after the Bye week (7-2), could translate into an upright quarterback and more importantly, team success.

Defensively, things are simple to analyze compared to the other side of the ball.  The front-seven is going to be stout like always.  Even better in ’11, when you see how much improved the interior line looks penetrating off the ball.  The concern remains the same, as the secondary is decent at best.  Safety depth, mainly an unpredictable Major Wright starting at free safety, and a lack of premiere corners can be exposed.  In the end, a “bend but don’t break” approach masks the defense’s major deficiency.  However, can the Bears ultimately overcome Martz calling the shots with a suspect group protecting for Cutler?

3. Detroit Lions (7-9) – Simply put, the Lions will be unable to hurdle a shaky secondary and non-existent ground game.  Matthew Stafford to Calvin Johnson and an intimidating front four featuring Ndamukong Suh – you could make a case for the Motor City squad challenging for a Wild Card berth in the NFC because of the promising pass offense and pass rush.  But there’s too many hit-or-miss areas where I feel this team has a better chance of missing than hitting.  Can they execute in short-yardage situations?  Jahvid Best is the opposite of durable and so are his back-ups Jerome Harrison and Mike Bell.  Does this mean they will have to rely on tosses to Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew on third and short?  Sooner or later, the line will crumble and we’ve seen this story before with Stafford.  As much as I would to believe he’s going to stay healthy, is it possible in a pass-heavy system?  The loss of rookie running back Mikel Leshoure (233-pound bruiser) hurts more than you would imagine.  With that said, is the second major weakness on the team more demoralizing?  I’m afraid so.  The cornerbacks are all leftovers from other teams: Chris Houston (Falcons), Eric Wright and Brandon McDonald (Browns), Nathan Vasher (Bears), Alphonso Smith (Broncos), and Anthony Madison (Steelers).  It’s not a good thing that they all share one trait in common: underachievement.  At safety, Louis Delmas is a talent, but plays too reckless.  His defensive backfield partner is a converted corner (Amari Spievey), with not much experience at the strong safety spot.  In conclusion, the Lions are the NFC version of the Houston Texans – except they lack a superstar back and an encouraging pass defense makeover.  On top of that, they play in a much tougher division than Houston.  Call me crazy, but I would be shocked if the Lions reach .500 this season.

4. Minnesota Vikings (5-11) – In recent memory, both sides of the line proved mightily impressive.  The offensive line would open big holes for Adrian Peterson, while the defensive line dominated games with the Williams Wall and an exuberant Jared Allen.  No longer a strength (past their primes, except for Kevin Williams) on either side in the trenches, the Vikings look rather ordinary.  What once was considered a reason why they could control games, is now believed to be a reason why some games will consequently get out of control for them.  At least the concern under center has vanished, as the team went out with the oldest (Favre) and in with more old by upgrading the quarterback position with Donovan McNabb.  Still, will his arrival make the offense click?  Is it absurd to think McNabb’s lackluster Eagle receivers in the pre-T.O. era would trump his current crew of pass catchers?  Percy Harvin is an exceptional athlete with the ability to break a game wide open on any given Sunday, on any given play.  But who thinks he is going to stay healthy to factor as a difference-maker during a full 16-game season?  No sweat, Donovan.  Unproven Jackson State product Jaymar Johnson, Falcon castoff Michael Jenkins, and ex-Bears Bernard Berrian, Devin Aromashodu and Juaquin Iglesias will be enough to make Viking fans forget about Sidney Rice and the retired Randy Moss.  Alright, maybe Moss.  This all said, and I haven’t even touched on a dismal pass defense, where injuries always seem to plague this area of concern.  A vaunted pass rush could offset a bad defensive backfield, but can Fred Pagac lean on his front four the way the Lions are able to?  Hardly so.  How about the linebackers?  I wonder if Mike Singletary is a miracle worker?  At least Adrian Peterson has some practice in that realm, oh, wait, he’s just a running back.  Sadly, the only thing going for the Purple guys is #28, and possibly a reinvigorated signal caller – and that’s stretching it.

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77 Responses to “2011 Division Previews: NFC North”

  1. Randy Perrin says:

    OLine still questionable and secondary depth is in question too but the DLine is still strong and deep. Percy Harvin has only missed 3 games in his career and I would be comfortable saying he will stay healthy. As far as linebackers and Singletary as a miracle worker, They have 2 pro bowl caliber LBs and a promising young talent in Erin Henderson. LB is far from a concern.

    • bigjohnny84 says:

      Tell him Randy. I’m not sure why this post had to show up here?

      • Randy Perrin says:

        I really wanted to keep going but held myself back…let everyone keep sleeping on us

        • bigjohnny84 says:

          Haha when the author is a Patriots or at least Tom Brady fan I laughed my way through the whole post.

          • Skol12 says:

            I agree with the post(Minus jared allen being past his prime and the harvin injury concerns), only change I would make is Vikings 4-12 not 5-11 and flip flop the bears and lions records.

          • akvikesfan says:

            Yeah, I would actually argue that Kevin Williams is the ONLY DT past his prime. I guess Ayodele qualifies maybe.

            Still, Jared Allen, Robison, Griffen, Ballard, Evans, Guion, and all the young D-Line talent is impressive. Not old by any means.

          • Fragile Freds says:

            Russ might be right.

            The Vike are going to have to score a ton of points or be able to run the ball and burn the clock to compete. This offense isn’t good enough to score a ton of points, and Freds isn’t convinced the offensive line is good enough to eat a lot of clock to let the “slave” run for 150 a game.

            The recievers do suck, the defensive backs do have a alot of holes, the offensive line hasn’t shown the ability to pass block or run block, the coach is brand new, Brian Robinson looks very very ordinary, Kevin William is hurt with bad feet. And…Randy Percy is unreliable to date. It’s true, don’t dilute the issue with the “he’s only missed 3 games” argument. He’s been questionable for many and if he can’t practice during the week, the Vike can’t count on him and game plan for him assuming he MAY not play. Your old pal loves Cheech, but until he shows he doesn’t get migranes, it’s hard to count on him week to week.

            Then there is Don McDizzle, time will tell, yet another question mark.

            So if the Bear and Lion poop themselves (which they could do) Vikes could win 9. If the Bear and Lion are truely better, Vike win 5.

          • c.carterhof says:

            Reading that has left me very thirsty, need a big…cold…glass of purple…kool-aid. Quickly…

  2. Jay says:

    There’s no way the Bears win 10 games.

  3. Tomb... says:

    Wow I’m not exactly optimistic about this year, but 5-11? I just don’t see it. I’m thinking 8-8 worst case.

  4. Lost Viking says:

    Watching Tice’s Offensive Line you have to consider how many games the Bear will win with Caleb Hanie at QB.

  5. CSlinde says:

    OMG. ‘Just a running back?’ The Viking’s offense is going to be harder to defend than you think my friend. There’s less tape out there for opponents to sift through and different personnel as well. The o-line, save Loadholt, is looking really good in the run game and Mcnabb seems to be able to extend plays when the protection is less than favorable.

    • akvikesfan says:

      You lost me at “the o-line is looking really good.”

      Looking really good to Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews maybe.

      • Lost Viking says:

        The O-line played very well against Dallas D. Dominant half from Hutchison. Sullivan and Hererra did some damage. Prefer Charlie Johnson against Peppers than reduced mobility McKinnie.

        O-line performance critical to forecasting 2011.

        • CSlinde says:

          Thanks Lost. I agree on Hutch. He seems to be back to his old self, or at least better than the last two seasons. Making blocks down field and getting after it. I guess saying the o-line looks decent, in the run game specifically, would be more accurate (can’t argue with ADs stats, although it was mostly him). In the passing game, Loadholt seems like the only glaring sore spot. I like how the play action is looking and with McNabb they have a little room for error due to his mobility being better than, umm what’s his name?

  6. Russ Loede says:

    DL: Kevin Williams playing in pain is a concern. Is he going to be the same Kevin Williams? He’s the anchor of the defense.

    Percy Harvin: he’s just not a #1 receiver. Better off in the slot being a second or third target. Big fan of his skill set, since days at Florida, but I’m just a bit skeptical with him as the top wideout.

    LB: Erin is a promising young talent, but that only goes so far. Greenway is a tackling-machine, but does he make enough plays and force turnovers?

    Tom Brady: who isn’t a fan of one of the best QB’s of all-time? Put all bias aside and just marvel at his 9:1 TD-INT ratio from last season. He made a very average supporting cast look great. Patriots were 14-2 despite an ordinary defense.

    Jared Allen: not past his prime, but he kind of disappeared towards tail end of last year at times. I shouldn’t have been so harsh in assessing his play.

    Bears: chances do hinge on Tice’s OL. However, have you watched the new crew? Vastly improved from ’10. It will be just fine for Cutler. Getting 10 wins? Why not? Defense is rock-solid and there’s playmakers on offense.

    Vikings: 8 wins would be a TOTAL shock. If the Bears can’t get 10, but the Vikes are able to reach .500? That’s hard to reason with.

    • Tomb... says:

      “TOTAL shock?”

      Hyperbole much? I don’t think the Vikes going .500 this year would be a TOTAL shock.

      From your perspective, brow raising seems more apropos. Save TOTAL shock for things like, say, Childress landing another HC job, or Rex Ryan remaining silent on an issue, or the Steelers having a quiet offseason, etc.

      • bigjohnny84 says:

        You the man Tomb, you the man! Oh and did I mention Percy is not the #1 reciever and I’ll be in Total shock if they use him that way?

        • akvikesfan says:

          Agreed. He might be our top pass catcher, but he’l be moved all around within the offense, and I suspect he will play in the slot on just about every 3 WR set.

          With his skill set, there is NO reason to suspect he couldn’t handle the #1 role if called upon to do so other than his size. Size didn’t stop guys like Santana Moss and Steve Smith from succeeding in that role for many years.

          • Tomb... says:

            I think it bears further study, while we’re at it. Zach Miller was the number one receiver for the Raiders last year, the freaking TE.

            Begs the question, what exactly is a number one receiver? Why can’t a slot receiver be the number one? Depends on your criteria, the deepest threat? The most catches? Where he lines up?

            Do please explain it to me.

          • bigjohnny84 says:

            Well Tomb I think in todays game it means the deepest threat which in my book is a bunch of bs. But hey Al Davis is alot smarter than me.

          • B. Grant says:

            Well…, choose any or all of the following:

            – the guy for whom the most pass plays are designed as option #1.
            – the guy who most often draws the top cover man and/or double team.
            – the leading receiver in yards, not catches.
            – the receiver who is paid the most.

          • bigjohnny84 says:

            Well dang it that rules out Bernie, I was hoping he’d take that title.

          • Tomb... says:

            EX-GODDAMNED-ACTLY Johnny and Coach. It’s an ill-defined, and BS term. Let’s PRETEND for a moment that Berrian actually plays decent enough this year to distract the secondary with the deep threat, and allows AD (who should catch quite a few passes in a McNabb offense), harvin, Shiancoe, and Harvin to run wild.

            Who the hell is the number “receiver” in this world??

            Makes me irritable when people use nonsensical labels. Is Welker not valuable to the Pats because he’s not number one?

            I thought this was a team sport.

          • Tomb... says:

            Oops, I said Harvin twice.

            1 “What are you guilty of?”

            2 “Rape, murder, robbery, rape.”

            1 “You said rape twice.”

            2 “Well, I like rape.”

            I like Harvin. Nuff said.

          • bigjohnny84 says:

            EX-GODAMNED-EXACTLY Tomb, Cheech will run wild in Musgraves offense, mark my word.

          • bigjohnny84 says:

            Haha loved the reference to “Blazing Sadles”.

          • CSlinde says:

            i LOVE how they are using him so far! And, as long as berrian can have somewhat a pulse i think he’s more valuable that way. just because he’s in the slot or backfield doesnt mean he can’t be used vertically. I like jenkins so far too. he and D Nab seem to have the back shoulder throw and catch down. who needs training camp?

    • Randy Perrin says:

      Have to agree that Brady is the best QB in the league and one of the all time greats.

    • Jay says:

      I’m not optimistic about the Vikings season, but I believe they will win more games than the Bears. The Bears ALWAYS tank after a good season, and they will do it again. I think they only had one player on IR all last year. They still don’t have a WR, and traded away their top receiving threat (Olsen). KR/S D. Manning left in free agency.

      I have a lot of respect for Lovie Smith and how his defenses create turnovers and play great special teams, but I think they got more of their fair share of the bounces last year. They are not a 10-win team.

    • Bruce says:

      I’d put money on the Vikes finishing ahead of the Bears. There’s a stink of entitlement and little problems adding up coming from Chicago that reminds me of last year’s Vikings team that was supposed to finish with 10+ wins. If I were to predict the division now, it’d be Packers 11-5, Vikes 9-7 or 8-8, Lions and Bears both at 7-9.

    • CSlinde says:

      any player playing through pain is a concern. overall depth on defense is a concern(see latest on e. griffen)except for the d-line where it seems to be solid enough to have a playmaker see snaps at LB. so far, i like the intensity out of the linebackers and the difference in open field tackling. overall, the team seems more fundamentally sound.

  7. B. Grant says:

    It looks to me like somebody’s going to be very wrong.

    • Tomb... says:

      Question is, who?

      • akvikesfan says:

        I believe Freds owes me colts and steaks for Tebow being a first rounder.
        I believe Freds owes me more colts and steaks for Winfield not even being considered for the safety job.
        This one I’m not as sure about, but I think Freds owes me and Branden colts and steaks for Erin Henderson being the starting weakside backer.

        who is going to be wrong? I haven’t seen what he has said yet, but my money is on Freds 🙂

        • Tomb... says:

          Safe bet, as our ol’ pal Freds is wrong on more ways than just football prognosticating.

        • bigjohnny84 says:

          Hey dont forget me, I was in on that Tebow bet too. Freds needs to pay up already.

        • Fragile Freds says:

          For those keeping score, here is the “official” tally of Freds debts:

          1- Steak and beer dinner for AK and BJohnny for the Tebow problem. Damn those dumb ass Bronco.
          2 – Viking Johns – oh probably about 2 cases of beer for various fantasy football problems.

          That’s it.

          Your old pal said Tony Winfield would play safety with the Vike and was clear it did not have to be this year, that bet is still on the books as open. No bet was made ever (or at least sober)regarding Aaron Henderson. Freds think EJ brother is a career 3rd stringer, but no bet was made.

          WTFVikes…please list for Freds the 10 wins this year.

  8. akvikesfan says:

    “past their primes, except for Kevin Williams”

    Williams is 31, and the only Vikings defensive lineman over the age of 30.


    • Tomb... says:

      That’s TOTALLY shocking.

      31 is also prime in the mathematical sense. Yes, probably the most boring observation of all time, but still more exciting than another sport I shall not name.

  9. Tomb... says:

    Ultimately, I think the Bevell to Musgrave transition is a huge unknown variable, and makes it almost impossible to guess how this year will go…but that’s just me.

    • B. Grant says:

      (This is going to be extremely difficult…) Tomb’s point here is valid (even harder than I anticipated) and worthy of some expanding. The performance of an entire team can be affected by leadership, and there has been a tremendous leadership style change in Minnesota. Frazier has proven to be no-nonsense (ask BMac) but also flexible. He and Musgrave are clearly building an offensive system that includes player input, and thus player buy-in, and a system that takes advantage of player skills. It was becoming quite clear that there were, at times, either numerous or no “chiefs” on the Viking sideline over the past two years, and that took its toll on the overall performance of this team. Meanwhile, the new defensive guy has a mindset that players feed on, and Mr. Singletary will enhance that even further.

      I’m not saying this vaults us to a storybook Super Bowl season, but don’t be surprised to see this team be more successful than the sum of the pieces being analyzed in articles like the one above. And don’t read too much into anything from the preseason. The Vikes are clearly taking advantage of the fact that there is no file tape on their systems, and their not going to build up anyone’s library in these four games.

      • bigjohnny84 says:

        Well said Coach and I agree. Denzel,Musgrave and Pagac are being wise here in not showing their hand in the preseason but showing just enough to confuse opponents. I expect a few surprises as the season starts to unfold. Btw does anyone miss Childo and company?

        • B. Grant says:

          Yeah, kinda the same way I miss the knee I had replaced.

          • bigjohnny84 says:

            Haha good one Coach but I was thinking more along the lines of hemorrhoids.

          • Tomb... says:

            Coach, I’m proud to see you admit the prevailing brilliance of my statement, no matter the brevity employed. It takes a big man to admit that. If we can somehow swing you away from baseball as a spectator sport, then we are all uber-winners, really.

          • B. Grant says:

            I don’t know what in the world a uber-winner is, but may I stain my plaid purple shirt if I ever stray from being a Twins fan. Don’t push it here, Mr. Tomb. I said you had a valid point, but…”the prevailing BRILLIANCE of my statement”? Hyperbole much?

            “Well said Coach” Now that would be an example of brilliance.

          • Tomb... says:

            Hey now! We save “hyperbole much” admonishments for jokers who predict a paltry 5 wins for our beloved Vikings!

  10. wtfvikesfan says:

    How was the IDIOT writing this article????? Bears will suck this year. They will be the 4th team 6 and 10. Packers will have superbowl hang over, 9 and 7. Lions look tough, 11 and 5. Vikings go, 10 and 6.

  11. hookem says:

    The NFL’s most athletically gifted tight end is Vernon Davis not Jermichael Finley

  12. titan concrete says:

    I think the Vikes will go 16-0 , the pack 2-14, the lions 2-14 and the bears 2-16. The NFC pro bowl starters will consist strictly of Vikings. NFC north wins the pro bowl 35-2. Vikes take the Bengals down in the Super Bowl by recovering a fumbled overtime kickoff and taking it to the house.

  13. CalVkg says:

    and i thought i was pessimistic saying 8-8 or 9-7 if we’re lucky

    well, this is all bs talk at this point, so here’s mine

    we have a new and better coaching staff, not young guys, but veteran coaches who know what they’re doing, and a last place schedule to help us, so some kind of relief rally season could happen after last year’s drama and letdown

    i can see us being 2-4, or maybe 3-3 if we’re really lucky, in our division

    unless we pull a ’91 twins season, we’re not gonna challenge for the title. more likely a rebuilding year

  14. Justin gallardo says:

    Well if we do suck this bad this season positive is we would have the shot at justin blackman in the draft.. Or a solid olinemen..and to think in the top of the draft..last time we were in the top 10 in the draft it did good for us…

  15. fozz44 says:

    I remain stunned at the lack of respect for the Vikings post-Childress. The short off-season will be a huge benefit for the veteran-laden Vikes…including McNabb. P&P both go off this year…..mark it down. Adding Singletary to defensive mix brings an entirely different level of toughness and testicular fortitude. They may not win the Super Bowl, or even the Central, but we’re in for a much better year than the pundits are predicting.

  16. Vikadan11 says:

    I dont believe Robison has proven he will be capable of replacing Edwards ~ I’m thankful the Vikings have Griffen & Ballard on the roster ~ Hopefully one of them will put Robison back on the bench were he will once again most effective coming in for 15 to 20 plays fresh and ready to rush the QB ~

  17. Russ Loede says:

    Greg Olsen was not the Bears top receiving threat last season; he only had 41 catches. Johnny Knox, who I would take over Harvin by a slight margin, and Matt Forte both had 51 apiece.

    Bears offense is a well-balanced attack. No one receiver needs to get 75+ catches in order for it to be effective. Forte can be the leading pass catcher again and it wouldn’t matter. More than likely, it’ll be Earl Bennett this year.

    If the Lions or Vikings win more games than the Bears it would amaze me. Both teams have more holes than the Bears – plain and simple.

    Percy Harvin: a #1 or not, you can’t compare that to Wes Welker’s situation in New England. For one, he has Tom Brady throwing to him. Next, the system has multiple guys catching the rock on a consistent basis. Lastly, the surrounding receivers around Wes are vastly superior than what Percy has in Minnesota.

    With a banged up Kevin Williams, I don’t see the defensive line being the same.

    How are this year’s Bears similar to last year’s Vikings? Not even close. Not much hype surrounding the Bears in ’11. Many predicted the Vikes to be “super” in ’10, myself included.

    The Bears were healthy last season, I’ll give you that, but also remember how bad the offensive line was and how they still succeeded despite its woes.

    • Tomb... says:

      Russ, first off, thanks for sharing your article, all observations made by myself are made from the perspective of a guy who bleeds purple. No offense when I make my retorts to your observations. Truly.

      Now then, let us dissect:

      “Johnny Knox, who I would take over Harvin by a slight margin, and Matt Forte both had 51 apiece.”

      You would seriously take Johnny Knox over OROY Harvin? Do NOT know how to respond to that kind of madness. Johnny freakin’ Knox. Huh.

      “Bears offense is a well-balanced attack”

      I agree, you never know if Cutler will be sacked 6, or 11 times a game.

      “If the Lions or Vikings win more games than the Bears it would amaze me. Both teams have more holes than the Bears – plain and simple.”

      Speculation. Absolutely no “plain and simple” in speculation world, except for the guy speculating.

      Pats system vs. Vikes system:

      Musgrave may utilize Harvin more than he has in the past, maybe to a “Welker level.” I certainly won’t bag on the Pats system, their track record speaks for itself, but what was their record with Cassel at QB? …and more talent at WR? uhhhhh….maybe, but not by much with Moss gone…and if you include their TE’s, Shiancoe and Rudolph may well prove even more formidable.

      Who knows how long K Will’s banged upedness lasts, or how it affects him? Not me.

      The rest of it, whatever. But you sound like you have some measure of bias, and I clearly hope you are wrong.


      • Lost Viking says:

        Russ, we saw different Bear exhibition games. Bear offensive line improved vs. Titan after being really awful against the Giant. Recall the Bear O-line being weakest link last year. All I’m saying is ‘Somebody gonna get hurt real bad-d-d’.

        Lion look so much improved. Stafford really sharp and confident. Have few reason to question Lion out of the gate.

        Nice to have Mayock and P-King make positive comments about Viking 2011. There are many who want to write Viking off given strength throughout the division. Example, the D-line may be improved with departure of two starters. O-line looked healthy and excelled at run blocking. At this point best not to assign wins and losses and instead let them play the games….

    • wtfvikesfan says:

      Mike and Mike predicted 8 and 8, and 7 and 9 for the bears. I haven’t heard any media picking the Bears to be good. I have heard some media predicting the Vikings at 9 and 7 or 10 and 6.

    • Randy Perrin says:

      U would take Knox over Harvin? First time I’ve heard that. Harvin brings a lot more playmaking skills to the table. Can line up in the slot, outside, as a RB, and great KR. I believe Harvin will put up big numbers this year. Knox is good but he’s not on Harvins level IMO.

  18. CalVkg says:

    yeah, i don’t follow da bears so i don’t know about knox, but tomb is right, harvin was OROY, is very good and has a lot of upside, imo. the bears were lucky and over-achieved last year, they won close games they could’ve easily lost, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they improved this year and finished ahead of our vikes. a split with the bears and lions might be all we can do for the 2011 vikes, and we’ll prolly lose 2 to the phackers

  19. c.carterhof says:

    Yeah, the taking Knox over Harvin thing was illogical. At that point I laughed out loud.
    “How are this year’s Bears similar to last year’s Vikings? Not even close. Not much hype surrounding the Bears in ’11. Many predicted the Vikes to be “super” in ’10, myself included.”

    And how are the ’10 Bears similar to the ’09 Vikings? Not even close. Agree with Tomb, biased opinion.

  20. B. Grant says:

    I will say again that the greatest improvement in the Vikings this year will be their state of mind. They like their leaders, who have given numerous indications that they truly know what they are doing, and that means that playing the game is now priority number one. Focus is greatly underrated in the game of pro football.

    People can pick us wherever they want, makes me laugh. The lower the better, I say. The more our opponents read and believe that toxic waste, the better. Yes, there are shortcomings with this team that may well be our undoing, but let’s blow the whistle and see what happens.

  21. Russ Loede says:

    Last season Knox was fifth-best in yards per catch in the NFL. 10th-best in 20+ yard receptions. Caught more passes for first down than Percy. His deep-threat ability makes him a tough guard for any corner not from Green Bay, though that may change in ’11 because he added muscle to deal with the likes of Woodson, Williams, and Shields. Also, Knox is an excellent kick returner, not that it means much anymore with the new rules.

    Few reasons to question Lions: where’s the run game? Jahvid Best has shown to be anything but durable since his days at Cal. Tough guy to rely upon. The loss of Leshoure hurts a ton. How about that dismal secondary? Who do you trust in that group? Answer: no one. Also, though I’m a big fan of him and believe he will finally stay healthy – can you really expect Stafford to reverse the trend and remain on the field? Talk about o-lines, how about the Lions protection for their QB? Too many holes.

    Bears vs. Giants (preseason): Jay Cutler got sacked only once and led two scoring drives, albeit field goals.

    Patriots-Vikings WR: Wes Welker gets edge over Percy. More consistent and proven throughout his career. No debate. Give me Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco over the rest of the Vikes wideouts. Brandon Tate/Julian Edelman both can slide in and makes plays, too.

    TE: Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez over both Shiancoe/Rudolph. Too easy. Gronk/Hernandez form the best 1-2 punch at TE in the game today.

    RB: Hands down, Danny Woodhead is one of the best receiving backs in football.

    No arguing the pass catchers of Patriots vs. Vikings. Big edge: New England.

    • Tomb... says:

      OK Pats fan, you are tenacious, aren’t you?

      Knox is so good that they brought in Roy “underwhelmer” Williams to take over as #1. Quite the vote of confidence from Lovey and Martz.

      Cutler sacked only once in the preseason against Giants. Against the proverbial vanilla defense in preseason? If you are going to take that seriously, then you also need to take the Lions thumping your Pats seriously too. Can’t have it both ways.

      Welker more proven? Clearly, but Harvin in a new offensive scheme is, I think, going to prove he is more dangerous in many ways, not just slot.

      Gronk and Hernandez better than Shank/Rudolph? Based on what, last year? I’ll have to give that to you, but we were clearly crippled by Rudolph not being in the league and all. This year may be different, who knows, totally new scheme/coaching for the Vikes.

      Tell you what, I’ll make you a bet. The Vikes win more than 5 games this year, you owe me a Colt 45. If the Vikes win 5 or less, than Freds owes you a Colt 45. Deal?

      • B. Grant says:

        I’ll have to void that bet, Tomb. You know darn well Freds won’t pay.

        This is a little like a fantasy football draft. If you base everything on past numbers, you will come up short. Its about projecting what people will do this year, and why. That’s why Sidney Rice got a grossly inflated contract – a one year wonder so far that people just seem to believe will be a premier receiver, but without any basis other than one year where Favre just kept lobbing it to him.

        I am very comfortable ignoring all the old stats and watching what DMac can do with a group like Rudolph, Shank, Percy and that Peterson guy. Preseason games are far, far, far more meaningless than most people are willing to accept.

    • sb says:

      Sorry Russ, I would have to say Brady would rather be dumping it off to AP on third downs than Danny Woodhead (the same Woodhead that wasn’t good enough to make the jets roster)!

  22. Russ Loede says:

    The Bears are my “first team of choice”, not the Patriots, though I admire their team/philosophy/style tremendously. Brady-Belichick success rivals that of Walsh-Montana, despite the fact Walsh was an offensive genius, unlike Belichick, who’s a defensive mastermind. Gurus of the game paired with unreal QB’s who made the most of their abilities. Have to at least respect that.

    Williams was brought in to give Jay a “tall target.” Not to overtake Knox as the #1. If you have watched the “out-of-shape” former Lion-Cowboy play this preseason, he’s in danger of making the final cut. On the other hand, Knox isn’t your typical #1, but he’s the Bears top big-play threat at the position.

    I brought up Cutler vs. Giants being sacked only once because someone said the Bears were awful in that game. The OL actually looked solid. The only thing awful about that game was the final score.

    I really like Percy Harvin. Just would take Wes for one, two more years instead.

    Who’s a better combo than Gronk-Hernandez at the tight end position? No one. And it’s not even close. Both shine with Brady dishing ’em the rock. Both compliment each other nicely.

    Interested to see how Rudolph does. Mammoth tight end, but can he separate from defenders and get open on a consistent basis?

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