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NFC North

Sixth in an eight-part series as Times NFL writer Sam Farmer analyzes the league by division.

September 01, 2008|Sam Farmer

Today, the NFC North:

Story lines

1 As if replacing a legend weren't hard enough, now Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers will be judged in part by how well Brett Favre plays with the New York Jets. The most glaring shortcoming so far: The Packers aren't doing a very good job of protecting their quarterback. They need to patch the leaks in the interior of their offensive line.

2 In signing Jared Allen and Bernard Berrian, Minnesota has made the right moves to make a serious playoff run. But the Vikings' question mark is a significant one: Is Tarvaris Jackson the quarterback who can take them where they want to go? It's not like there's a better option. Jackson's backup is Gus Frerotte.

3 The good news for Chicago: Rex Grossman is out as the starting quarterback. The bad news for Chicago: The guy who's replacing him, Kyle Orton, has the worst passer rating among active quarterbacks with at least 400 attempts.

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How they'll finish

1. Minnesota: Adrian Peterson has had a slow summer, but he's still primed for a big season.

2. Detroit: For once, the Lions look as if they're good enough to surprise some people . . . if Jon Kitna stays healthy.

3. Green Bay: Getting to last season's championship game wasn't entirely Favre's doing.

4. Chicago: The Bears could have drafted a quarterback but instead used their top pick on a damaged tackle who's now out.

-- Sam Farmer

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