Arif: Minnesota Vikings
Adam: Minnesota Vikings
Themselves. Looking at this roster pre-Draft, I see a team that has every bit as much talent and upside as anybody in the NFC North, including the Green Bay Packers. Unfortunately, that has been the case in the past and it was the Vikings beating themselves that ultimately did them in. Finding ways to avoid the police blotter, the injury report, the weekly “C’mon Man!” segment, and the pages of TMZ will be paramount to their success in 2015. If they can play disciplined football, refrain from making stupid penalties and committing gaffs in the clock management area, then I think this Vikings team has no limits. Unfortunately, the organization’s history has me in a constant state of fear as to just how everything will unravel this time.
Darren: Green Bay Packers
No surprises here. It’s the Packers. Chicago will continue to bob up and down with Jay Cutler and is overhauling the defense. If Matthew Stafford was going to take another step for Detroit, it should have happened by now. The loss of their best defensive player, Ndamukong Suh, is a blow as well. Meanwhile, the Packers smartly retained Randall Cobb and still have the league’s best QB. I’m afraid any team must go through Green Bay to win the division until Mr. Rodgers hangs ’em up.
Andy: Detroit Lions
The default answer would be the Packers, but there’s no denying that Jim Caldwell was the right man for the Lions job. Megatron’s getting older and Stafford is still a wild card, but that defense is legit — 3rd last year in scoring, 2nd in yards allowed. Even though they smartly (for the price) let Suh walk, Ngata ain’t a neophyte. Also the fact that Levy, Tulloch, and Van Noy could be the best linebacking crew in the NFL (if healthy) adds to the problem. Plus having Teryl Austin remain as defensive coordinator for one more year is a huge win for them as well. Unfortunately, I don’t think their 11-5 campaign last season was a fluke. They’ll be a tough out in 2015.
Brent: Green Bay Packers
The obvious choice. The reigning NFC North Champions will again prove to be a formidable opponent in 2015. Led by NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, the Packers will need to improve their defense in order to stay a top the division, especially if the Vikings retain Adrian Peterson. When it comes to offense, the Packers will remain as one of the most potent teams in the entire NFL, let alone the NFC North. The Packers will be able to score against anyone, and I wouldn’t doubt if they find yet another break out wide receiver to help add to the passing game. On top of that, the continued emergence of Eddie Lacy makes the Packers offense well rounded and dangerous. The Vikings will give the Packers a run for the money in 2015, but it will be difficult to ultimately dethrone Green Bay.
Carl: Minnesota Vikings
The obvious choice is the Green Bay Packers, right?. Well, I guess because I color outside the lines, I would add that the Vikings’ toughest opponent just might be themselves. That’s right, the Vikings are a young football team with the talent to compete with any team in the NFC North, if they buy into just how good they can be. If they recognize and believe they have what it takes to win a championship, I’m convinced they will be more determined to commit to the extra work and preparation needed that separates the great teams from the good ones. Eliminating youthful mistakes, executing assignments with precision and with the air of confidence that only come from winning, could be the only thing holding this team back.
Austin: Green Bay Packers
The NFC North was once considered the league’s best division, but that power is slowly shifting west. The Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers have emerged as the class of the NFC West, while teams like the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions appear set for disappointment in 2015. It’s almost unfair to crown anyone but the Packers as the VIkings’ toughest NFC North opponent in 2015. With the league’s best quarterback in Aaron Rodgers and a dangerous set of receivers, Green Bay’s offense is poised to produce next season. The defense, while thin at linebacker and cornerback, still features players like Clay Matthews, Julius Peppers, and B.J. Raji. Although the Vikings improved on paper this offseason, the true test will come when they take on the Packers twice in 2015.