After last season, when the Minnesota Vikings went 12-4 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game and the Green Bay Packers secured a Wild Card berth with an 11-5 record, the NFC North was expected to be one of the powerhouse conferences in the NFL. None of the teams in the conference have been able to live up to expectations so far in the 2010 season, however.
Green Bay Packers Midseason Report (5-3)
A brief overview of the major injuries the Green Bay Packers have suffered so far this season: Ryan Grant was lost to a season-ending injury during the Packers’ season opener. Tight End Jermichael Finley was lost to a season ending injury during Week 5’s loss to the Redskins. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been hampered by a concussion. Linebacker Clay Matthews missed Week 6’s loss to Miami with a hamstring injury. Donald Driver is suffering from a quadriceps injury.
That’s not even all of the injuries that the Packers have had to deal with this season, yet amazingly Green Bay is 5-3 and at the top of the NFC North. It’s going to be tough for the Packers with most of their depth eliminated by injuries, but they might still be able to win the NFC North considering how erratic the other teams in the division have been.
Total Offense: 335.9 yards/game (16th)
Total Defense: 341.1 yards/game allowed (18th)
Green Bay Packers Midseason Grade: B
Chicago Bears Midseason Report (4-3)
The Bears were one of the few teams in the league to make it to 3-0, but have looked awful since. Jay Cutler has reverted back into an interception machine after suffering a concussion during Week 4’s game against the New York Giants, and the offensive line has looked like one of the worst in the entire NFL.
The one saving grace for Chicago has been the strong play of their defense. The Bears’ are ranked 8th in the league in total defense, and despite Cutler’s poor play, only one of Chicago’s losses has come by more than three points. Without Cutler playing like he did early in the season, the Bears probably aren’t making the playoffs and will likely only marginally improve upon last season’s 7-9 record.
Total Offense: 290.4 yards/game (29th)
Total Defense: 305.3 yards/game allowed (6th)
Chicago Bears Midseason Grade: B-
Minnesota Vikings Midseason Report (2-5)
The Vikings are a mess. Brett Favre is in the midst of the worst season of his professional career, receivers Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin are suffering through injury, and coach Brad Childress just released Randy Moss a mere four weeks after acquiring the outspoken superstar. Not only does it seem unlikely that Minnesota will make it back to the NFC Championship game, it seems fairly unlikely that the Vikings will even make it back to the playoffs.
There is one bright spot for the Vikings, however, and it’s running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson leads the league in rushing yards (776) and hasn’t fumbled the ball once after committing sixteen fumbles combined over the past two seasons. He won’t be able to carry Minnesota back to the playoffs by himself, but Peterson does give the Vikings hope that they could be better next season after the Brett Favre experiment ends.
Total Offense: 331.6 yards/game (18th)
Total Defense: 316.0 yards/game allowed (12th – tie)
Minnesota Vikings Midseason Grade: D
Detroit Lions Midseason Report (2-5)
It’s tough to believe, but the Detroit Lions are actually second in the NFC North in point differential (+18) and are potentially the most dangerous team from the division for the second half of the season. Only one of Detroit’s losses this season has been by more than eight points, and Matt Stafford, who had been out after suffering an injury in Week 1, looked terrific in Week 8’s win over the Redskins. The Lions might not make the playoffs this season, but right now they look better than the Vikings and the Bears.
Total Offense: 332.9 yards/game (17th)
Total Defense: 350.3 yards/game allowed (21st)
Detroit Lions Midseason Grade: C
NFC North 2010 Midseason Predictions
Despite the injuries they’ve suffered, the Green Bay Packers have still found ways to win. 9-7 should be good enough to win the NFC North, and I think the Packers can finish at 10-6 unless the injuries continue to mount up. If Cutler and the Bears aren’t able to turn things around they’re likely headed for another 7-9 season. The Detroit Lions are an underappreciated young team, and I think they could possibly sneak up to 6-10 by the end of the season, which is also around where I think the Minnesota Vikings will finish.
All stats and standings from espn.com
All records and statistics are accurate through Week 8 of the 2010 NFL Season