By Christian Binder, WSOE Sports
Chicago Bears (2008 Record: 9-7) -Key Additions: QB Jay Cutler, OT Orlando Pace, LB Pisa Tinoisamoa -Key Losses: QB Kyle Orton, QB Rex Grossman, S Mike Brown, WR Brandon Lloyd, OT John St. Clair, OT John Tait, WR Marty Booker
Everything surrounding the Bears this offseason was about Jay Cutler. After the star quarterback severed ties with the Denver Broncos management, he was traded to the Bears for QB Kyle Orton and several draft picks. The Bears are looking to improve on offense this year and the addition of Cutler certainly helps. The only problem is, the Bears don’t have a true number one receiver. Their best option is 5’11” Devin Hester, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing since the guy runs like greased lightning, but he is certainly not a league-standard number one. The defense looks to be strong again and will probably be the key to this team winning games. Pisa Tinoisamoa is not a name many people recognize, but he led the St. Louis Rams in tackles during his rookie season in 2003. Look for the Bears to be a little bit more liberal in their passing game this year, but count on them to still rely on their defense to win games.
Detroit Lions (2008 Record: 0-16) -Key Additions: QB Matthew Stafford, CB Phillip Buchanon, WR Ronald Curry, LB Larry Foote, LB Julian Peterson, WR Dennis Northcutt, G Terrence Metcalf, TE Brandon Pettigrew, CB Anthony Henry -Key Losses: CB Leigh Bodden, WR Mike Furrey, S Dwight Smith, QB Dan Orlovsky, QB Jon Kitna, G Toniu Fonoti
Well, it’s fair to say that there’s a fresh start in Detroit. The good news for Lions fans is that they can’t be any worse than they were last year. There’s a new coach in town, a new franchise quarterback, and a much better situation in general. Matt Stafford was selected by the Lions with the number one overall draft pick and the Lions are hoping that he can help bring this team back to the postseason. However, the Lions want to take it slow with Stafford and not just throw him into the fire immediately. Daunte Culpepper entered this preseason in great shape and has looked very good in training camp, which made it hard for the Lions to simply hand Stafford the starting gig. Neither quarterback has impressed so far in preseason games, but it looks like each quarterback may have significant playing time this season. The defense could very well be better than it was last year with the additions of Larry Foote and Julian Peterson. Plus, they are being coached by the guy who built Tennessee’s great defense over the last couple years. The bad news for the Lions is that they play in a very competitive division. Results probably won’t be seen this season, but this team could be one to watch in the coming years.
Green Bay Packers (2008 Record: 6-10) -Key Additions: DT B.J. Raji, LB Clay Matthews -Key Losses: None
It’s hard to understand why the Packers weren’t so great last year. Aaron Rodgers, in his first year as starting quarterback, was very good. In fact, the Packers were the third-highest scoring team in the NFC last year behind the Arizona Cardinals and New York Giants. They even scored more points than they allowed. There were a lot of tough breaks for the Packers last year and a lot of games lost in the fourth quarter. They are trying to right the ship this year and if they don’t have incentive, all they have to do is look to Minnesota and that guy wearing number 4 for them. The Packers should get an easier schedule this year thanks to last year’s 6-10 finish and there is certainly a desire to win since Brett Favre betrayed them by signing with the Vikings. If the Packers can repeat last year’s offensive output and improve on defense, they could very well win 9 or 10 games.
Minnesota Vikings (2008 Record: 10-6) -Key Additions: QB Brett Favre, QB Sage Rosenfels, WR Glenn Holt, WR Percy Harvin -Key Losses: RB Maurice Hicks, QB Gus Frerotte, C Matt Birk, S Darren Sharper
The Brett Favre saga took yet another turn as the 39-year-old quarterback came out of retirement once again to join his once-arch-rivals, the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings were not without good reason in signing Favre, though they were counting on a competition between Sage Rosenfels and incumbent Tarvaris Jackson for the starting job. Neither quarterback has been special during their respective careers, but Rosenfels did have some good games with the Houston Texans. The offense certainly will be very strong with Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor anchoring the running game. Favre is obviously an upgrade over Rosenfels and Jackson and he has plenty of weapons in the passing game, especially with the addition of Percy Harvin, one of the heroes on the Florida Gators 2008 national title team. The loss of Matt Birk certainly hurts the offensive line, but it shouldn’t be a big problem. Watch out on October 5 when the Packers visit the Metrodome. It’s sure to be a throwdown.