SRI’s NFL Preview: NFC North

September 1, 2010 – 7:30 am by Paul Bessire has teamed with to preview the upcoming NFL season division-by-division. Today, we will preview the AFC and NFC North. plays every game 50,000 times before it’s played. In this case, the site has played the entire season 50,000 times for this preview, which combines that statistical analysis with some of the most notable sports radio interviews from teams in the division.’s Take on the NFC North

(results from 50,000 NFL season simulations)

The NFC North features the conference’s most likely Super Bowl participant and the most dramatically improved team in the league (“on paper” or “in computer” in this case) – and they’re still at opposite ends of the division. The Green Bay Packers, who won seven of their last eight regular season games, only losing on fluky last plays to Pittsburgh and in the playoffs to Arizona, have an exceptionally balanced team that ranks in our projected top ten offensively and defensively and wins the division 50% of the time. The Detroit Lions have overhauled their defense and have many young weapons on offense to the point of almost becoming respectable. 4.1 wins may not be a great season, but it more than doubles last year’s output and is technically an infinite improvement on 2008. The Lions may just be 1-2 years away from contending for the playoffs. With or without Favre, the Vikings would take a step back from last season. The team out-performed its numbers in 2009 and still faces the now-superior Packers twice. With the Mike Martz-Jay Cutler tandem, Chicago’s offense should be fun to watch. That’s good and bad for the Bears. Collectively, the NFC North is 15% likely to win the Super Bowl. The NFC North plays the NFC and AFC East.

Green Bay Packers
Power Rank: 2
Offensive Rank:
Defensive Rank:
Projected Record:
9.8 – 6.2
Make Playoffs: 67.8%
2009 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
Projected 2010 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
Biggest Strength: Aggression (in Every Phase of the Game)
Greatest Weakness: Reliance on Turnovers (Requires Some Luck)
Most Important Offensive Player: Chad Clifton, OT
Most Important Defensive Player: Tramon Williams, CB
Fantasy Stud: Aaron Rodgers, QB
Fantasy Dud: Donald Lee, TE
Fantasy Sleeper: Brandon Jackson, RB

Recent SportsRadioInterviews from the Green Bay Packers:

Aaron Rodgers (9/1): Survives Potentially Awkward Meeting with MNF Crew

Mike McCarthy (8/11): Preseason Position Battles Could Help Green Bay Contend for Super Bowl

Ryan Grant (8/5): Wants to Be a Top Five Running Back This Year

Charles Woodson (7/7): Would Play in Any Scheme for $100 Million

Bonus Aaron Rodgers (6/8): Ranks Tom Brady “Best By Far” and Thinks That Tony Kornheiser is “Terrible”

Minnesota Vikings
Power Rank: 13
Offensive Rank:
Defensive Rank:
Projected Record:
8.6 – 7.4
Make Playoffs: 44.5%
2009 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
Projected 2010 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 7
Biggest Strength: Rushing (Offense and Defense)
Greatest Weakness: Schedule (Especially Early for a Banged-Up Team)
Most Important Offensive Player: Brett Favre, QB
Most Important Defensive Player: E.J. Henderson, LB
Fantasy Stud: Adrian Peterson, RB
Fantasy Dud: Sidney Rice, WR
Fantasy Sleeper: Albert Young, RB

Recent SportsRadioInterviews from the Minnesota Vikings:

Bryant McKinnie (8/24): On Brett Favre: “A Lot of Players Play for Him”

Brad Childress (8/20): We’re Just Happy Brett is Here Back With Us

Jared Allen (8/10): On Treatment of Rookies in Training Camp

Tarvaris Jackson (8/5): “It is a Difficult Situation”

Chicago Bears
Power Rank: 20
Offensive Rank:
Defensive Rank:
Projected Record:
7.4 – 8.6
Make Playoffs: 24.3%
2009 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
Projected 2010 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
Biggest Strength: Mike Martz
Greatest Weakness: Mike Martz
Most Important Offensive Player: Chris Williams, OT
Most Important Defensive Player: Julius Peppers, DE
Fantasy Stud: Jay Cutler, QB
Fantasy Dud: Earl Bennett, WR
Fantasy Sleeper: Chester Taylor, RB

Recent SportsRadioInterviews from the Chicago Bears:

Julius Peppers (8/16): “Nobody is Expecting Any More than I am of Myself”

Brian Urlacher (8/12): After a Year Off, Brian Urlacher is Ready to Lead Bears Again

Jay Cutler (8/2): Is Excited to W0rk with Mike Martz

Detroit Lions
Power Rank: 29
Offensive Rank:
Defensive Rank:
Projected Record:
4.1 – 11.9
Make Playoffs: 0.5%
2009 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 8
Projected 2010 Playoff Teams on Schedule: 6
Biggest Strength: Light at the End of the Tunnel (Tremendous Talent Improvement)
Greatest Weakness: Everything (Success is Still Probably Two Seasons Away)
Most Important Offensive Player: Matthew Stafford, QB
Most Important Defensive Player: Chris Houston, CB
Fantasy Stud: Calvin Johnson, WR
Fantasy Dud: Kevin Smith, RB
Fantasy Sleeper: Brandon Pettigrew, TE

Recent SportsRadioInterviews from the Detroit Lions:

Matthew Stafford (8/12): Detroit Lions Success Hinges on Matthew Stafford

Jim Schwartz (7/30): Continues Rebuilding the Lions

Ndamukong Suh (6/17): Looks to Start the Season

Calvin Johnson (5/30): People Still Mock the Lions

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