Green Bay Packers,FLAT: Without a running game, the Packers will have a difficult time navigating the NFC playoffs, but make no mistake about it, the Packers will be in the tournament. The problem with the Packers, as was the case with the Colts in the Peyton Manning era, is that the team is only okay, and they rely far too much on their quarterback's arm. That could be the fatal flaw in Green Bay.
Minnesota Vikings, FLAT: The Vikings are a solid team all the way through, but beyond a great running back, there doesn't seem to be enough playmakers on the roster to be contenders. This season will be a feel-out year for the Vikings. Last year seemed to be more of a fluke than anything, and we'll know far more about the Vikings once this season gets under way.
Detroit Lions, SLIGHTLY RISING: With Matthew Stafford now secured, the Lions have to begin filling in the hole—and quick. The biggest concern for the Lions is their current regime will likely only have one shot at putting a winning season together. If that falls apart, no one would be safe. There's still a lot of work to do before the Lions are contenders.
Chicago Bears, FALLING: The Bears are, in short, a team without an identity. Jay Cutler still hasn't made the jump from "solid" to "franchise starter," and the defense will have to support much of the weight of winning. Add to that a new system with new coaches, and it should be a rebuilding year. The Bears have some pieces in place, but they have to get calibrated to their new system, and that will likely keep them out of contention for at least one year.
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