Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 NFL Predictions (NFC North)

1. Green Bay Packers (14-2): The Green Bay Packers were one game away from a perfect regular season in 2011, losing to Kansas City in Week 15. A bye in the first week of the playoffs matched them up with New York, and the Giants ended up marching through Green Bay and all the way into the Super Bowl. The Packers remain number one on many preseason power rankings, and rightfully so. Reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the game, and his receiving corp, consisting of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, Jermichael Finley, and James Jones, is also an elite group of players. The organization signed free agent Cedric Benson, and hopefully he has enough energy to liven-up their running game. The defense ranked dead last in total defense the previous season, after a top-5 squad the year they won Super Bowl XLV. Stars are everywhere in Wisconsin, and an early exit from last year's playoffs will be used as motivation for the Green Bay Packers.
Clay Matthews (Jeff Hanisch/US Presswire)

Week 1: 49ers @ Packers W
Week 2: Bears @ Packers W
Week 3: Packers @ Seahawks W
Week 4: Saints @ Packers W
Week 5: Packers @ Colts W
Week 6: Packers @ Texans W
Week 7: Packers @ Rams W
Week 8: Jaguars @ Packers W
Week 9: Cardinals @ Packers W
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Packers @ Lions L
Week 12: Packers @ Giants W
Week 13: Vikings @ Packers W
Week 14: Lions @ Packers W
Week 15: Packers @ Bears L
Week 16: Titans @ Packers W
Week 17: Packers @ Vikings W

2. Chicago Bears (12-4): Chicago disappointed everyone in 2011 after missing the playoffs entirely, for they were the number two seed in 2010's quest for the Super Bowl. An upbeat, energetic offseason might be enough though to march this team back into the postseason. The biggest signing made by Chicago was that of Brandon Marshall, a wide receiver who has already established great chemistry with quarterback Jay Cutler. The two played together in Denver, where Marshall had one of the best receiving seasons in recent memory. Cutler has been lacking a lethal weapon in Chicago, and surely Marshall will be his go-to guy. Running back Matt Forte rounds out this offense, even though I can't shake the feeling he is setting up for a bust of a season in 2012. Defensively, the Bears suffered a big injury to their linebacker Brian Urlacher, who may miss the season opener against Indianapolis. Chicago is very well rounded, with possibly the greatest return man in the history of the game. Therefore, Chicago might even be able to conquer Green Bay for the NFC North title once again.
Matt Forte

Week 1: Colts @ Bears W
Week 2: Bears @ Packers L
Week 3: Rams @ Bears W
Week 4: Bears @ Cowboys L
Week 5: Bears @ Jaguars W
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Lions @ Bears W
Week 8: Panthers @ Bears L
Week 9: Bears @ Titans W
Week 10: Texans @ Bears W
Week 11: Bears @ 49ers L
Week 12: Vikings @ Bears W
Week 13: Seahawks @ Bears W
Week 14: Bears @ Vikings W
Week 15: Packers @ Bears W
Week 16: Bears @ Cardinals W
Week 17: Bears @ Lions W

3. Detroit Lions (11-5): Four years ago, the Detroit Lions became the first team in NFL history to have a winless season. Things picked up, however, once they drafted quarterback Matthew Stafford. For the first few years, Stafford was unable to play a complete season. Then, in 2011, Stafford finished out the year injury-free, passing for 5,038 yards, as well as leading his team into the playoffs. Much of the credit also has to be rewarded to Calvin Johnson, quite possibly the most talented player in the NFL. Just because Stafford stayed healthy throughout 2011 does not mean his luck will continue into 2012. In fact, the Lions quarterback injured his left hand in last weeks preseason game, not a good sign for Detroit fans. The team spent their first two draft picks on offensive players, proving just how much they  depend on a high scoring game. The plan is destined to fail if Stafford were to be injured once again, and if that were to happen, Detroit might miss out on yet another postseason.
Matthew Stafford

Week 1: Rams @ Lions W
Week 2: Lions @ 49ers L
Week 3: Lions @ Titans W
Week 4: Vikings @ Lions W
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Lions @ Eagles L
Week 7: Lions @ Bears L
Week 8: Seahawks @ Lions W
Week 9: Lions @ Jaguars W
Week 10: Lions @ Vikings W
Week 11: Packers @ Lions W
Week 12: Texans @ Lions W
Week 13: Colts @ Lions W
Week 14: Lions @ Packers L
Week 15: Lions @ Cardinals W
Week 16: Falcons @ Lions W
Week 17: Bears @ Lions L

4. Minnesota Vikings (1-15): Jared Allen's beast-like season did not catch as many headlines as it deserved in 2011, for too many television shows were focusing on the historic passing performances from guys like Brady, Brees, Stafford, and Rodgers. Allen was half of a sack away from breaking the single season sack record, which still stands at 22.5. Minnesota has fallen off of the radar since Brett Favre called it quits for the last time (or so we think), where the only offensive star remaining is Adrian Peterson. Peterson blew out his left knee in a Christmas Eve game against Washington, and is not likely to play 100% in the first few 2012 regular season games. Percy Harvin had extraordinary potential as a rookie several years ago, but his migraine troubles are too inconsistent for him to be a star. Matt Kalil should help this offensive line, but not enough for Christian Ponder and the Vikings to earn a winning record in 2012.
Jared Allen (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Week 1: Jaguars @ Vikings L
Week 2: Vikings @ Colts L
Week 3: 49ers @ Vikings L
Week 4: Vikings @ Lions L
Week 5: Titans @ Lions L
Week 6: Vikings @ Redskins L
Week 7: Cardinals @ Vikings L
Week 8: Buccaneers @ Lions L
Week 9: Vikings @ Seahawks L
Week 10: Lions @ Vikings L
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Vikings @ Bears L
Week 13: Vikings @ Packers L
Week 14: Bears @ Vikings L
Week 15: Vikings @ Rams W
Week 16: Vikings @ Texans L
Week 17: Packers @ Vikings L

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