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 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
Posted on: January 20, 2010 5:20 pm
Some may consider the 2009 Packers season a disappointment. They lost both matches against Brett Favre and the Vikings, they gave the Buccaneers their first win of the season, and had a disappointing exit from the playoffs. However, I submit to you that this season was not a disappointment. After falling to a 4-4 record after a surprising loss Tampa Bay, many gave up on the Pack, but they responded and went on a tear winning the next seven of eight games and finished 11-5; 6-2 at home. After week 9 many said the Pack would finish 6-10 just like the prior season, but they didn’t. This amazing run the Packers made to reach the playoffs is unfortunately somewhat forgotten by losing in the wild card round, but that is not a reason to consider the 2009 campaign a failure, instead let us consider it a great success.
Week 1: Packers vs. Bears; W 21-15; 1-0
The Packer offense struggled to get going most of the game due in part to poor offensive line play (which was a continuous theme all the way into the playoffs). The Pack only gained 76 yards on the ground led by Ryan Grant with 61 of those yards and a touchdown. Aaron Rodgers finished 17 for 28 with only 184 yards and one touchdown which was the game winner with a little over a minute left. He was sacked four times. Greg Jennings led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 106 and a touchdown. The defense allowed a couple of big plays, but ultimately kept the Pack in the game picking off Jay Cutler four times and had two sacks. Brandon Chillar led in tackles with seven. An exciting win for the Pack, but it showed signs of a long season ahead.
Week 2: Packers vs. Bengals; L 24-31; 1-1
A pumped up and confident Packer team welcomed the Bengals who seemed to be down and out after losing on a miracle play against the Broncos the week before. However, this was a back-and-forth contest that found the Pack on the losing end as they ran out of time in the red zone. The offensive line played even worse than they did the first week allowing 6 sacks. Grant ran for only 46 yards and Rodgers added 43 of his own, but only because he was running for his life. He also went 21 for 39 in the air for 261 yards and one touchdown. Donald Driver led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 99 and a touchdown. The defense played decent forcing Carson Palmer to throw 2 picks and sacked him twice, but allowed Cedric Benson to run all over them for 141 yards. Charles Woodson led the team with 9 tackles and two picks returning one for a touchdown. A tough loss for the Pack considering they were in range to score, but simply ran out of time.
Week 3: Packers at Rams; W 36-17; 2-1
Against the Rams here in week 3 the Pack were looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Bengals and build momentum and confidence for the big matchup coming in week 4 against the Vikes. Fortunately the Pack focused in on the Rams and took care of business. The offensive line looked a lot better allowing only two sacks, but then again the Rams didn’t pose much of threat. Grant ran for 99 yards and the Pack overall ran the ball for 152 yards. Rodgers went 13 for 23 for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Driver led the team with 4 receptions and Jennings in yards with 103. The defense played well forcing 3 turnovers, but only sacked the quarterback one time. A.J. Hawk led in tackles with eight. Perhaps the Pack allowed more points than they should have, but overall a dominating win which was just what was expected.
Week 4: Packers at Vikings; L 23-30; 2-2
The much anticipated matchup against Brett Favre and the Vikings didn’t turn out at all like Packer fans hoped. Instead all critics broke loose with negative statements as Brett carved up the Packer secondary, the defense failed to put pressure on the aging quarterback, and the offensive line once again played disgustingly horrible allowing an astounding 8 sacks. Grant actually seemed to run the ball his best so far going for 51 yards with a 4.6 yard average, but the Pack were simply playing catch-up all game. Rodgers went 26 for 37 for 384 yards, two touchdowns and one pick. In short, Rodgers played well for the most part, but could take the blame for the pick and a sack or two. Jermichael Finley led the team in receptions and yards with 6 for 128 yards and a touchdown. Rookie Clay Matthews personally kept the Pack in the game when in the second quarter he stripped the ball right out of Adrian Peterson’s hands and took 42 yards for a touchdown tying the game at 14. Nick Barnett led the team with 7 tackles. This loss gave way to all Mike McCarthy and Ted Thompson haters and already some fans were giving up on the Pack. Now the Packers had three weeks to get their act together for the rematch at Lambeau Field.
Getting Back to The Basics "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." ―Vince Lombardi