NFC North Not a Factor on Championship Sunday


Jan 12, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) congratulates San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) after the NFC divisional round playoff game at Candlestick Park. The 49ers defeated the Packers 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Two years ago the NFC title game was an all-NFC North affair as the Packers squared off against the Bears. But this year – and for the second straight year – our favorite division is out of the picture altogether on championship Sunday. The Vikings and Packers both got into the tournament this time around but neither team could make a run. The Vikings weren’t really expected to do much anyway but the Packers…a lot of people had the Packers as favorites. And for the second straight year they couldn’t even get out of the divisional round.

So much for that Green Bay juggernaut. One championship doesn’t exactly make a dynasty. But I think everyone expects them to get it back together and make another run next year. As long as Aaron Rodgers is in his prime, the Packers will be a factor. Might want to get that defense squared away though. Two years in a row that D let them down. Would be a shame to see them waste Rodgers. Wouldn’t it? Maybe not.

And what about the Vikings? They showed tons of improvement in 2012 but they still have question marks. Lots of holes to fill on the roster. The Percy Harvin situation is sticky. There are questions about the offensive approach. And of course the biggest question mark of all, Christian Ponder. Is he the man to lead this team? Can he take the next step or has he already hit his ceiling?

Even with the question marks, right now I’d have to rank the Vikings #2 in the division in terms of prospects for 2013. Packers are still #1 (I know a lot of you won’t be happy to hear that but I’m just being honest). The Bears and Lions are 3 and 4. Lots of problems in both those houses. The Bears will have a whole new coaching staff plus their defense is going to need some retooling. And the Lions, well they just look like a big huge mess right now. The best news for both those teams is that they have talent. Where there’s talent, there’s hope. Maybe next year.

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