Posted on: July 20, 2010 10:36 pm
Edited on: July 22, 2010 3:05 pm
The NFC North is the most storied division in all football. It has long been considered one of the best divisions until it saw a dip in playoff performance after the turn of the century. The NFC North is the oldest division in the NFL: a combined 303 years old (The Packers are 91 years old - founded in 1919; the Bears are 90 years old - founded in 1920; the Lions are 80 years old - founded in 1930; the Vikings are 49 years old - founded in 1961.); and these teams have been together as a division since 1967.
These teams have made 10 Super Bowl appearances (Packers, Vikings - 4; Bears - 2) and have 4 Super Bowl titles (Packers - 3; Bears - 1). Of the top 5 NFL teams with the highest winning percentage throughout its franchise history, three of them reside in the NFC North (Bears: .577; Packers: .558; Vikings: .555). For 6 years in a row (from the 1995 season through the 2000 season) one team from the NFC Central/North made an appearance in the NFC Championship game. After the 2000 season no NFC North team appeared in the NFC Championship game until the Bears made a Super Bowl run in the 2006 season.
Then a slow rise began to take place. The Bears went to the Super Bowl in 2006 and the Packers lost in overtime in the 2007 NFC Championship game. The division took the 2008 season to revamp their teams. In 2008 the Packers named a new starting QB in Aaron Rodgers and in 2009 the Vikings (Brett Favre), Bears (Jay Cutler), and Lions (Matthew Stafford) each named a new starting QB.With each team retooled at arguably the most important player on the team the division started to show life not just in one or two teams, but in all four. Although the Lions and Bears finished under .500 they showed some important steps. The Packers finished 11-5 and lost a tough one in the Wild Card round. The Vikings took their run all the way to an overtime loss in the NFC Championship game making that 3 appearances in the last 4 years in that game.
Now looking forward to the 2010 season the Packers and Vikings are heavy favorites to make deep playoff runs. You can safely predict that both the Packers and Vikings have a solid chance at making it to the second round of the playoffs. The Bears have a chance at being a Wild Card team, but you can be sure they will hover around the .500 mark by season's end. The Lions will be no push over either. With the weapons they have in Matt Stafford and Calvin Johnson, and with Brandon Pettigrew and a revamped running attack the Lions will also be competitor (at least by their last 2 season's standards) winning 4-6 games.
Yes, the NFC North is back and you can bet these teams will make deep playoff appearances for year to come (yes, that even includes the Lions).
Posted on: July 20, 2010 10:35 pm
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Posted on: January 27, 2010 11:59 pm
The Packers were a struggling team going in to a game against the Cowboys whom they had lost to each time in the last two years. Fortunately for the Pack the Cowboys were also a struggling team. It was a slow moving defensive game through the first three quarters with the Pack up 3-0 going into the fourth. Then Aaron Rodgers took over and scored 2 touchdowns (1 running, 1 passing) within 3 minutes of each other. The Cowboys never posed a threat after as the Pack won a game many expected them to lose. The offensive line story continued though as Rodgers was sacked 4 times. He went 25 of 36 for 189 yards. Ryan Grant carried 19 times for 79 yards. Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, and Donald Driver each had 4 grabs with Driver leading the way with 50 yards. Spencer Havner caught the only TD from Rodgers. The Pack continued to control the turnover battle with none and forcing 3 (1 INT, 2 FUM). They held the Cowboy offense to 278 yards and sacked Tony Romo 5 times. Charles Woodson was the defensive star in this one leading the way with 8 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception. It was a must win for the Pack, but they were still far from making a playoff run.
Week 11: Packers vs. 49ers; W 30-24; 6-4
The 49ers started the season off strong, but quarterback controversy was causing problems for their offense all season. A win for the Pack would match their win total of a year ago with 6 still to play. The Pack got off to a great start and led the Niners 23-3 at the half. However, in the second half it seemed the Pack let up a bit allowing the Niners back in the game as they outscored Green Bay 21-7 in half. The Niners scored their last touchdown with 5:56 showing on the clock and the Pack ran the rest of that time off with one possession to win it. Rodgers was great going 32 of 45 for 344 yards and two touchdowns and was sacked only twice. Grant was just as good getting the ball 21 times for 129 yards and a touchdown. Jermichael Finley led with 7 catches and Jennings led with 126 yards and a touchdown. Once again the Pack didn’t commit a turnover and forced the Niners into one big pick by Nick Collins which gave the Pack the short field to punch it in for their only second half score. They got to the QB 3 times and held the Niner offense to 284 yards. Aaron Kampman led with 4 tackles and a sack. The Pack nearly let this one get away, but held on. However, they still needed some big wins to deserve playoff consideration.
Week 12: Packers at Lions; W 34-12; 7-4
It was Thanksgiving Day in Detroit when the Pack came to town to play the Lions they shutout earlier in the season. However, it was Thanksgiving and the Lions are always confident on this day in their place. By the end of the first quarter they were showing it and led 7-0, but the Pack went on to score 27 unanswered points before the Lions added a safety and field goal in the fourth and Woodson closed the door for good taking a Matthew Stafford pass back for a touchdown. The Packer D picked off the rookie QB four times. Woodson was a nightmare for Stafford collecting 2 picks and sacking him once. Woodson also recovered a fumble for the Pack. Stafford was sacked twice and the Lion offense was held to 272 yards. A.J. Hawk led with 8 tackles. Rodgers was fantastic going 28 of 39 for 348 yards, 3 touchdowns, and was sacked only once. Grant was about average getting 20 carries for only 61 yards. Driver had a huge day with 7 receptions for 142 yards and a touchdown. Now with a three game win streak the 7-4 record looked fairly good, but the Pack were about to face probably their toughest 3 game stretch all season.
Getting Back to The Basics "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." ―Vince Lombardi
Posted on: January 24, 2010 9:52 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2010 9:54 pm
Week 5: Bye
The Packers took a step toward trying to improve the offensive line by signing tackle Mark Tauscher on October 12, 2009 during their bye week. Tauscher had been a free agent due to a surgery he had to repair a knee for the second time in his career. After successfully rehabilitating that knee the Pack signed him in hopes to help an offensive line that was absolutely dismal the first four weeks of the season.
Week 6: Packers vs. Lions; W 26-0; 3-2
After making personnel improvements during the off week, the Pack now looked to make improvements on the field against a young, poor Lions team. The score says they dominated, but still struggled greatly to protect Rodgers who got sacked five times. Rodgers still played well completing 29 of 37 passes for 358 yards for 2 touchdowns and one pick. Grant rushed for 90 yards on 24 carries. Driver led the team again in receptions and yards with 7 for 107 yards. It was the defense that played great and dominated shutting the Lions out. Clay Matthews led the team with 2 of the 5 sacks and Barnett led with 9 tackles. The defense also forced 3 interceptions and allowed only 149 yards. In short, the Pack had a descent offensive day, but an incredible defensive day.
Week 7: Packers at Browns; W 31-3; 4-2
The game against the Browns was the last chance the Pack had to make improvements in game time situations before meeting the Vikings again in week 8. Well, on this day it looked like they were able to put everything together. The offensive line didn’t allow a single sack the whole game and gave way for Ryan Grant to go off for 148 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown. Aaron Rodgers completed 15 of 20 passes for 246 yards and 3 touchdowns. Greg Jennings led the team with 5 receptions and Donald Driver led in receiving yards with 84 yards and a touchdown. The Packer defense had its best game of the year yardage wise allowing only 139 yards. They collected two sacks, one interception, and one fumble. A.J. Hawk led the team with 7 tackles. All looked well. The Packers seemed to be rolling and had regained their confidence and were ready to welcome the Vikes to Lambeau Field for the second showdown of the season.
Week 8: Packers vs. Vikings; L 26-38; 4-3
The Packers were ready and the fans were confident as they welcomed Brett Favre and the Vikings to Lambeau for a rematch of week 4. At this point the Vikings were 6-1 and the Pack was 4-2. With a win the Pack would be in reach of taking the division lead. However, by the time the Pack took the field for their first possession of the second half they were down 24-3. The Pack then scored 17 unanswered points making it a 24-20 score at the end of the third. Unfortunately, they never overcame the Vikings and were outscored 14-6 in the fourth. In the end Aaron Rodgers played well in the comeback effort going 26 of 41 for 287 yards and three touchdown and no picks, but he was sacked 6 times. The offensive line was dominated by the Viking front again and held Grant to 30 yards. Jennings was the leading receiver catching seven balls for 81 yards and a touchdown. The Pack amazingly were plus 2 in the turnover category not giving up any and recovering two fumbles. Again the defense failed to sack Favre as he shred them for 4 touchdowns. Nick Barnett led the way on defense with 7 tackles. Most were giving up on the Pack, but even at this point if they could right the ship they could still make a playoff run.
Week 9: Packers at Buccaneers; L 28-38; 4-4
Week 9 presented an apparent easy first opportunity for the Pack to right the ship against the winless Buccs who had a rookie starting his first game in Josh Freeman. The Pack could never put the winless Buccs away though and allowed them to hang around. With about thirteen minutes left the Rodgers ran in a TD from 12 yards out to put the Pack up 28-17, but the Buccs went on to score 21 unanswered points and surprise the Packers. It seemed for the first time all season that Rodgers did not play well. He went 17 of 35 for 266 yards, 2 touchdowns, 3 picks and was sacked 6 times for the second week in a row. On the other hand, Grant seemed to run well with 21 carries for 96 yards and a score. Jennings led with 5 receptions and James Jones led with 103 receiving yards. The defense could only get to the rookie QB one time and picked him off one time. Hawk led the team with 7 tackles and the only sack. Packer nation was furious at the loss as all hope for a playoff run was gone and some questioned if a winning season was now possible. There were now plenty calling for the jobs of Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson. To be honest even I as a die hard Packer fan had given up. Rodgers and the Packer defense weren't done yet and still had something to prove during the last half of an apparent disappointing season.
Getting Back to The Basics "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." --Vince Lombardi