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: August 10, 2009 4:29 pm
Edited on: August 13, 2009 8:41 pm
After taking a look at the new 2009 USA Today College Football Pre-season Rankings and seeing that my Michigan State Spartans were not in the top 25 but came in second in the "Other receiving votes" category I started thinking about the difference of football and basketball in the college ranks. You see I love football. Football is my first love when it comes to sports. However, I am beginning to find it easier and more enjoyable to cheer on MSU basketball rather than MSU football. That also got me wondering as to why that is. Then it hit me. There will always be more hope in a championship coming through the basketball team than through the football team.
When it comes to college football the chances of winning the big game or even getting to the big game are very slim. They are even slimmer if a team is not in the top 25 at the start of the season. It gets slimmer yet because a team can go undefeated and may never even reach BCS Bowl. Oh yeah, your team loses one game? You can pretty much toss away any chance of a championship. Lose two games and the chance is now at zero and you'll be lucky to reach a BCS game. So if you take a team even with great stature like a Southern Cal and they lose a game or two early on maybe because they are a young team that year, but then they grow and torch every other team, but if two great teams like LSU and Texas finish with a perfect record then USC has no chance at a title. Yet USC may be a better team than both of them it doesn't matter because they lost early on.
Now take the same scenario over to basketball. You could be a George Mason that started the season nowhere near the top 50 in the nation and finish the season with a mediocre record and enter the tournament as a very low seed and if you are that good you can go all the way to the final four or championship. Why? Because a tournament truly sets apart which teams are the best. Only by a tournament can you determine the best teams to play for the championship.
My point? As Michigan State enters this football season just outside the top 25 it will be very likely that somewhere along the way they will lose a game. Now I don't expect them to win a championship this year and I still enjoy the rest of the season and cheer just as hard as the next guy when they play their bowl game. However, it is not a sweet as the opportunity to play in the championship. As soon as they lose that one game teams like Michigan State with great up-side have no chance at a championship even though they may have improved to the point of being the best team in the nation. You don't think something like that can happen? Look at every other sport at any level and the facts say that it does. Almost every year a team in at least one sport rises from the outside of championship talk and wins it all or gets close like last year's Arizona Cardinals in the NFL or Michigan State in basketball.
Those kind of stories are what keep people interested all season long. College football doesn't have that because most fans, once they have watched their team play in their respective bowl game, don't care what happens in the other bowl games, and some even don't care to watch the championship. Why bother when you can check the score the next day or watch the highlights later. Why do so many people watch the Super Bowl even thought their team is not playing in it? Besides the fact that it is great football, almost every year one of the teams playing were not expected to be there and the other was and everyone wants to see how the underdog will fare against the heavy weight.
So what is my point to this whole post? College football needs some sort of playoffs. I know this is an old controversy and discussion. It doesn't have to be as big as college basketball's. I think a 16 team tournament is sufficient. It will only take four games to finish it off. If every team is playing 12 games in the regular season and then you add four more games at the most that is only a total of 16 games; which is the total number of an NFL regular season not including the possibility of 3 or 4 more games in the post-season. It will give these college kids more experience and help them with endurance a lot more when they enter a much lengthier schedule in the NFL.
I hope someday the NCAA will see that the need for a playoff in college football is greatly needed. It will bring college football to a greater level and could raise the championship game to the level of the Super Bowl. You say, "No way." We'll never know unless a playoffs is instituted now will we?
Something I just thought of that I am adding now is this. As we know, the Big Ten has a longer break between the end of the regular season and the Bowl season than other conferences. Because of this it is used as an excuse as to why Big Ten teams have not faired well in bowl games in recent years. Especially in the big games like Ohio State's two attempts in the championship game and Michigan's numerous failures in the Rose Bowl and so on and so forth. (By the way I'm not picking on them. Admittedly, MSU just hasn't had the opportunity to lose) Anyway, I tend to agree that the long break is at least a small part of the Big Ten's shortcomings during the bowl season. Therefore, a playoff would also help in this area.