special to The DUD from Mandatory’s Gary Dudak
Anybody who thinks the NFC North is a division with only one team capable of winning it is probably a fat, drunk Wisconsinite who regularly has sex with blocks of cheese. This division is up for grabs, but we know who is going to come out on top.
1. Chicago Bears
Ask any Bears fan what’s been holding the team back the last few years, and the top two answers will be the offensive line and Lovie Smith. Well finally, FINALLY, both of those issues have been addressed. The Bears bolstered their line with the signing of Pro Bowl tackle Jermon Bushrod from the Saints, and drafted guard Kyle Long out of Oregon (who is looking like a beast in preseason thus far). But most importantly, the Bears coaching staff finally demoted 350 lb. waste of space J’Marcus Webb to backup offensive tackle and cut his pay. Thank God.
Speaking of the Bears coaching staff, much to the delight of everyone not named Brian Urlacher, Lovie Smith was fired after another disappointing season in which the team started 7-1 and failed to make the playoffs. Lovie apologists will point out that the Bears still won 10 games, but almost all of those wins came against horse shit teams in which the defense scored more touchdowns than the offense. Yes, Lovie is a good defensive-minded coach, but he has proven time and time again that he has no idea how to run an offense and manage personnel (he allowed Todd Collins to play in the NFC Championship Game just a few years ago when Cutler got hurt…Todd fucking Collins). So, Bears management finally made a move that reflects that we are living in the 21st century and hired Marc Trestman, a respected offensive-minded guy who is also a two-time championship winning head coach (in the CFL). He may look like a creepy, living ventriloquist doll, but he knows how to run an offense and get the most out of his quarterback (he was the O-coordinator for the Raiders in 2002 when Rich Gannon won the MVP), which is exactly what Jay Cutler needs to win this division.
On the other side of the ball, the defense is still going to be top-notch. Urlacher’s retirement was bittersweet, but his replacement Jon Bostic looks like the real deal and the linebacker corps will now be led by badass motherfucker Lance Briggs.
Key Addition: Along with those already mentioned, the signing of tight end Martellus Bennett from the Giants could be huge for the offense, giving Cutler a big target to hit downfield other than Brandon Marshall.
2012 record: 10-6 (3rd)
Vegas: 8.5 wins (2nd) – OVER (-130) / UNDER (even)
The DUD: 7-9 (3rd)
The DUDAK: 11-5 (1st)
2. Green Bay Packers
Uh oh, is there trouble in ConstipationTown? It seems the departures of veteran wide receivers Donald Driver (to retirement) and Greg Jennings (to the rival Vikings) have shed some light on the shitty leadership qualities of Aaron Rodgers. I’m not saying I totally back either of their viewpoints, but where there is smoke there is usually fire, and Aaron Rodgers IS one of the main assholes who publicly defended Ryan Braun, so you have to question his character a little bit, right? Regardless, he is an awesome quarterback, but don’t be surprised if you see some drama on the Green Bay sidelines after one of his receivers drops a pass (probably Randall Cobb) and he calls him out on it. Locker room turmoil can kill a team, and it’s not a good sign that coach Mike McCarthy is having to defend his veteran QB’s leadership ability during preseason.
Speaking of McCarthy, it’s fair to say that no coach in the history of sports looks less like a champion than McCarthy. So good for him, I guess. However, his look typically reflects his decision-making during games, and that is sure to cost the Packers at least a win or two this year. Furthermore, everyone is going bonkers about Green Bay actually having a running game this season with rookie Eddie Lacy, but no coach is more clueless at utilizing the rush than McCarthy, so don’t expect much there.
On defense, the Packers were so-so last year, but then got trounced in the playoffs. So what did they do to address that? Released veteran leader Charles Woodson. Hmm. They still have Clay Matthews, though, and their young guys in the secondary should have learned something from all the terrible plays they made last season, but who knows. Overall, the Packers have a difficult schedule and a mediocre D, but still have Rodgers slinging the rock around to capable receivers so they’ll be in the hunt for a wild card spot.
Key Addition: Okay, so Green Bay did make one other move to address their shitty defense: they drafted Datone Jones out of UCLA to be their defensive back of the future. He looks the part, but has been hurt most of the preseason. Only time will tell…
2012 record: 11-5 (1st)
Vegas: 10.5 wins (1st) – OVER (even) / UNDER (-130)
The DUD: 11-5 (1st)
The DUDAK: 10-6 (2nd)
3. Minnesota Vikings
It’s easy to chalk up the Vikings 2012 season as a fluke, as Adrian Peterson returned from a torn ACL and astonishingly tore the league a new asshole, rushing for 2,097 yards (8 yards shy of a single season record), and did it all without any PEDs!* So yeah, that is what I am going to say, too. It was a fluke. Peterson will probably be a stud again, but the Vikings lost their best all-around weapon in Percy Harvin and are still going to be quarterbacked by super underwhelming Christian Ponder. So far, his only real accomplishment is marrying Samantha Steele and getting her to eat Arby’s on their wedding night.
On top of being low on talent, the Vikings were rewarded for their surprising 10-6 record last year with a hellish schedule this season. They have three winnable games out of their first five (Lions, Browns, Panthers), but after that is is hard to see any clear W’s until December 29th when they play the Lions again at home. Granted, it’s the NFL, so a dogshit team is perfectly capable of winning when they are outmatched and eliminating me from my Survivor pool, but I don’t see Minnesota pulling off more than 4 victories after their bye (their bye is in week 5).
Key Additions: All of the NFL draft “experts” jizzed themselves over the Vikings picks, so for what it’s worth, they have a good rookie class on paper. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson has a lot of potential, and big things are expected from defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (cool name) and cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
2012 record: 10-6 (2nd)
Vegas: 7.5 wins (4th) – OVER (even) / UNDER (-130)
The DUD: 5-11 (4th)
The DUDAK: 7-9 (3rd)
*like fuck he did
4. Detroit Lions
It would take a real sack of Skip Bayless’ shit to pick the Lions to finish higher than last in the NFC North. But if someone were to go beyond that and predict the Lions to have an 8-8 season, then you might have to start questioning whether that person is right in the head. The Lions are the shitty Lions, and that is all they will ever be. For the last five years they have been the trendy dark horse pick, and they always disappoint. Remember when they made the playoffs in 2011? Don’t feel bad if you don’t, because they were quickly destroyed by the Saints and followed it up with a turd of a 2012 season.
Detroit is coached by an ass clown, their defense is led by a piece of shit named Suh, and their quarterback has one of the most punchable faces in the league (just behind Jay Cutler). Calvin Johnson is a beast but it doesn’t matter because the rest of the receivers suck. Honestly, it would be better for everyone if the Repo Man just came in and took the Lions away from the NFL to go with Detroit’s bankruptcy.
Key Addition: Reggie Bush. If the dude can stop fumbling the ball for two minutes and actually add an element to the Lions offense, then maybe I will look like an asshole here. But I see Bush either fumbling or getting hurt in the Lions first game and being benched, and then they’ll be right back to where they started…in the dumpster.
2012 record: 4-12 (4th)
Vegas: 8-8 (3rd) – OVER (+105) / UNDER (-135)
The DUD: 8-8 (2nd)
The DUDAK: 6-10 (4th)
Gary Dudak has the best job ever. Check out some of his work from Mandatory.com by clicking here. Yup, that’s our first ever DUD Eye Candy Brittany Mason!