Yesterday’s Packernation poll asked the question, “Who can give the Packers a run in the NFC North?” The response was interesting to say the least (as it always is when Packernation gets talking about the team). I was interested to see that a question sent in to “Ask Vic” asked the same question. You can see his response here.
Even with all the shakeup in the North in the last few years, there are still those who believe that divisional rivals who know how the Packers operate can still be thorns in our side.
The poll results were very evenly split along three lines, but one thing was sure…very few in Packernation think the Bears are going to be the toughest competition in the North. I tend to agree though I am one of those who always chants the mantra…”Never overlook a division rival.” and I am certain that the Packers will do nothing of the kind. This is why I don’t think they will threaten us this year.
After that though, thoughts went one of three ways (and if you haven’t participated yet, just click here):
No one in the North can give the Packers a run.
Many see (and it is a topic for another post) teams outside the division, like the Seahawks or the Cardinals, as much more dangerous to the Pack. Inside the NFC North it is clear for right now that the Green Bay Packers are the benchmark and all others are merely hopefuls. 31% of fans responding to this poll believe this to be true.
I tend to agree with this but in the back of my mind, I wonder if I shouldn’t just put a name on an opponent who I think is in position to do some damage to the Packers chances. Some others did the same, yielding the two other streams of thought that came out of the poll.
The Lions can give the Packers a run.
Even with the loss of Ndomokong Suh, the Lions boast a formidable defense (one that I think will be eclipsed by Green Bay’s defense this year, but that is another story). And the Lions offense has some weapons though they will be without Reggie Bush this year…well…they were without him last year for the most part as well.
I can see level-headed fans thinking, “Listen, this was a playoff team last season, no one else in the North was…we have to watch out for these guys.” and 30% of participants in our poll thought exactly that. But there was one last category of respondent…
The Vikings can give the Packers a run
Whuh? You gotta be kidding…right? Well 28% of those taking this poll thought that the Vikings would be the NFC North rival to watch out for this year. And…well…I was one of them. The Vikings marquee wins were not all that impressive. An early win against the Rams, they beat the Panthers, and they split the series with the Bears by taking the week 17 matchup. But the Vikings were much stronger at the end of the season and only lost the second meeting with the Lions by two points. They also in that final stretch lost to the Dolphins by only two points. Admittedly the Lions came on stronger at the end of the season and fought their way into the playoffs. But with the loss of Ndomokong Suh, I see the Vikings with a good chance to split their NFC North games with both the Lions and the Bears. The question then would be how well do they do on the road and outside the division. I watched the Lions repeatedly ask to be beaten by teams last season, especially on the road. And somehow those teams all responded the same by saying, “Nah, I think we will let you come back and steal one.” I don’t think the Lions will have that kind of luck this year. Matthew Stafford seems more vulnerable all the time and the Lions’ losing culture just seems to be here to stay. I see the Lions missing the playoffs this year. Does that mean the Vikings get in? Not necessarily…but I still think (especially now that they have Adrian Peterson back) that they may very well put up a better fight than the Lions when they play the Pack.
So Packernation has its views about how the NFC North will shape up in 2015. Unfortunately, we still have to wait and see how it all shakes out. But in the meantime it is good to know that our great team will be doing all it can to be even better than last season. The pieces are falling into place, the season is just around the corner. And the stakes couldn’t be higher.