The team that wins the Super Bowl usually starts the following season off with a bulls eye on their back. Everyone knows it will take their best effort to defeat them so they give it their all. In addition teams want to know how they stack up against the world champs and use the game as a barometer of their own progress.
This season will be no different as the Green Bay Packers set out to defend their crown. Their division is more competitive than it's been in two decades. Here's how the NFC North will shake out.
Division winner: Green Bay Packers. Aaron Rodgers is coming into his own establishing himself as a top 5 quarterback in the NFL. Jermichael Finley and Ryan Grant (fantasy football busts last year) are coming back from injury so the defending champs are even better than they were last year. They win the division, but it won't be easy.
2nd place: Detroit Lions. Matthew Stafford has looked sensational in the preseason and if the Lions can get their running game on track a winning season is a foregone conclusion. Ndamukong Suh is the best defensive lineman in football and will anchor a defense that rivals the Ravens or the Steelers. Look for the Lions to make big strides this year.
3rd place: Minnesota Vikings. Donovan McNabb will provide stability at the quarterback position and Adrian Peterson is still the best running back in the league, but this team has gotten old in a hurry. They missed their window of opportunity two years ago when Bret Favre chose to throw across his body one too many times.
Last place: Chicago Bears. It's hard to believe a team that played in the NFC championship last year will end up in the basement of their own division, but that's exactly what's in store for the Chicago Bears. Everyone else in their division got better while they remained relatively the same. In addition special teams standout Devin Hester won't be a factor because of the rule change on kick offs. The Bears will be lucky to win 7 games.