Big D's Season Preview: NFC North Breakdown *In predicted order of finish* Green Bay Packers (12-4) Strength: This thing all starts, and ends, with Aaron Rodgers. In the opening week the Packers tried to pound the running game while using Rodgers and the passing game only sparingly. What did that get them? A loss at home when the emotions of hanging that championship banner should have been running high. They need to put the ball in Rodgers hands and let him go to work and they'll be more successful. Weakness: While not a complete liability, the defensive line won't scare anybody and could have problems stopping power running teams in their conference. It would be nice to see them develop one of their DE's into an All-Pro but it hasn't happened yet. Deciding Factor: There's just too much talent on this team for them to struggle much this season. Having a second place schedule helps as well, and the Packers should roll into the playoffs. Detroit Lions (11-5) Strength: Any time you have a talent like Calvin Johnson at receiver he will make everybody around him better. That's exactly what he will do again this year, and we expect guys like Nate Burleson to return to form and catch lots of passes. Weakness: They have got to find some sort of running game to help take the pressure off of Stafford this season. One of the reasons he's been hurt the past two seasons is he's had to throw the ball so much that defenses are able to tee off on him. They've got lots of OK backs, but nobody who stands out. Could be a problem again for the Lions. Deciding Factor: The Lions are due for a breakout season (yes we've been saying that for a while), and we think this year is it. With a young offense loaded with talent, and an opportunistic defense they'll be a tough team to deal with in the NFC. When you factor in a known quantity at head coach in BigSmooth you have a recipe for success. Chicago Bears (6-10) Strength: The defense, while again, is still very good. Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher form one of the best tandems in the league. It'll be interesting to see just how well the defense performs this season during a tough schedule that includes the NFC South, Eagles, and Chargers. Weakness: That wide receiving corps is bad folks. . .really bad. Everybody wants to put the blame on Cutler but how is he supposed to win throwing to guys like Knox and Hester. Yes they are speedy and you'll see some big plays, but Hester is a return guy they have to play at receiver because of lack of depth and the other guys won't scare any corners in the league. Deciding Factor: The schedule is too tough and the talent just isn't there for another surprise run for the Bears. To be honest, we aren't sure how they've done it in the past. It seems like we always count them out and they somehow found a way to win under Lovie Smith. With Smith gone, will the magic still be there? We don't think so. Minnesota Vikings (4-12) Strength: The defensive front is stout, and should provide a great four man pass rush and allow their linebackers and secondary more freedom in coverage. Jared Allen is still probably the best pass rusher in the league and will come up with double digit sacks again this season. Weakness: Poor Steve Hutchinson. Once upon a time he was a central part in Seahawks and Vikings offensive lines that were some of the best run blocking units in league history. Now he is playing along side a bunch of cast offs and unproven young guys. This season is going to be ugly up front for the Vikes. Deciding Factor: We actually think the Vikings up side is pretty big. If McNabb can play well they have enough talent (and a 4th place schedule) to be able to win a lot of games. However there are just too many unknown variables right now to put them any higher than 4th place again in our predictions.