Some divisions in the NFL have such a pedigree rivalry that the Super Bowl is almost an afterthought. Sure it’s nice to hoist up the Lombardi trophy after beating some team in the AFC, but sometimes that divisional title is almost as sweet. After all teams and fans generally all live in the same region, deal with the same weather and have the same animosity towards each other. Beat a divisional team in the playoffs? Some would say that’s worth three Super Bowl victories… in a row. This is the sort of mentality that runs rampant through the NFC North.
We continue our asinine analysis of NFL teams that you hate to love and love to hate to prepare you for the 2015 season. Our next targets: the teams of the AFC North.
Record: 5-11. Has it really come to this? Have the Chicago Bears fallen so far that they had the worst record in the division last season, which included a team that lost its stud running back and had a rookie quarterback leading a wild and wonky Norv Turner offense? At what point did Bears fans forget there was a football season and watch nothing but Blackhawks games?
The Good: John Fox. Throw a mustache on this guy and let’s party like it’s 1985 again! It doesn’t matter that the Bears only have Jared Allen on his farewell tour and a bag of footballs. John Fox could make a solid defense out of Pixie Stix if he needed to. And don’t worry about him dealing with quarterbacks. He’s been through the ringer with Jake Delhomme and Peyton Manning. Jay Cutler won’t know what hit him.
The Bad: As if Jay Cutler didn’t have enough players to throw to while shrugging his shoulders, the Bears traded away big man Brandon Marshall. That would have been fine, but Marshall’s rookie big man replacement Kevin White was drafted with shin splints and has been questionable all preseason. Now it’s official. Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal on his last year are the only receivers.
The Ugly: The receiving situation has become so bad that the Bears had Jay Cutler running routes for a play during training camp with Eddie Royal throwing to him. It was a touchdown, which means either the play was that good or the defense is that bad.
Record: 11-5. After a miserable and mediocre two seasons, the Detroit Lions made it back to the playoffs only to lose in the first round again.
The Good: The way fantasy football is talking up Ameer Abdullah, you’d think he was the next LaDainian Tomlinson. Not Barry Sanders, of course. Abdullah can catch a football. Matthew Stafford looks like he has matured in his throws, probably because Calvin Johnson is always missing games and can’t just go get the football all the time. Even Eric Ebron seems to have improved. Could a second playoff appearance to lose in be on the horizon?
The Bad: The Lions all but traded Ndamukong Suh for Haloti Ngata, so there won’t be as many hits to irritate Aaron Rodgers. That includes kicks, clotheslines and chairs to the head.
The Ugly: I’m going to throw out a guess and say that I probably don’t want a close up of Calvin Johnson’s knees. Lucky for you, Megatron got a new Twitter account, but has kept the feed knee-less.
Give it time. To be honest, I’d enjoy pics of Calvin Johnson’s knees over feeds of athletes promoting anything that comes in a swag bag.
Green Bay Packers
Record: 12-4. Everything was going swimmingly until Russell Wilson decided that he wanted to go out and prove that he could throw a football.
There’s no refereeing to blame this time around, Packers fans.
The Good: Aaron Rodgers has taken over Movember with that dirty ‘stache of his. Don’t deny it, Bears fans. It’s a glorious piece of lip-sweater fit for kings and Mike Ditka and Harley riders and 80s metal bands and Mike Ditka.
Oh, and have you seen the glaring hole in the Packers’ receiving corp of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams? Let me and all of the NFL coaches know if you do, because I can’t see it.
The Bad: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix can’t do it all in the secondary as a safety. Maybe the Packers should try turning some of those receivers into defensive backs so that receivers like Jermaine Kearse don’t make people’s fantasy football wish lists over one play.
The Ugly: I really tried. After months of therapy, I had finally gotten over the fact that Aaron Rodgers is dating Olivia Munn. I was at peace. And then this happened.
Now, not only is Aaron Rodgers dating Olivia Munn, but he’s dating Psylocke. If you need me, I’ll be crying while I watch episodes of The Newsroom.
Record: 7-9. It’s one of those seasons that makes you shrug and look toward the future. 7-9 with a rookie quarterback and without Adrian Peterson. The opposite of either of those facts could have meant a playoff game. I’m as shocked as you are.
The Good: Adrian Peterson Adrian Peterson-ed back to Adrian Peterson for the Adrian Petersons. Will Adrian Peterson be the Adrian Peterson between Adrian Peterson-ing and Adrian Peterson-ing? Adrian Peterson.
Oh, and Teddy Bridgewater looks like he’s sweeping the 2014 Rookie Quarterback Sweepstakes. Kyle Rudolph is allegedly healthy,
The Bad: Mike Wallace is your #1 receiver. Didn’t the Vikings see what happened in Miami? Did they think that bringing Mike Wallace back into the cold air would do him good?
The Ugly: The Vikings have one more season of playing outside because, after Minneapolis spent $975 million building a new stadium, no one thought to put in seats.
Better late than never.