'NFL Analysis 101': NFC North

Welcome class, I am your instructor, Professor Timmy, and this be “NFL Analysis 101,” where we look at the wants, needs, and desires of all 32 National Football League teams in the fresh off-season and compare each team to literature, historical documents, and the reference guides that best represent them. Football, much like the written word, is art and poetry in motion, reflecting our lives and the lives of those around us.

We will spend the first half of our course looking at the National Football Conference, followed by the vastly superior American Football Conference, culminating with a preview and post-script on the NFL College Draft in late April. Today’s lecture will revolve around the historic NFC North Division (aka the Black and Blue Division) featuring the Super Bowl representing Chicago Bears. Let us begin ...

CHICAGO BEARS
Printed Comparison
: A Million Little Pieces by James Frey
Much like Frey’s completely fictitious and “unbelievable” autobiography of drug addiction and silly goose behavior that leads to a lie of a triumph, the Bears have let down Oprah Winfrey.

On paper, Winfrey’s Chicago team is nifty, just like Frey’s story. The Bears feature one snazzy LB corps, outstanding special teams, and a never-say-die gunslinger of a QB. Yet, we don’t play this game on paper, just as Frey didn’t live his autobiography. QB Rex Grossman has no clue how to negotiate a safety, and often goes for the gusto like a caffeinated teenager on prom night. Oh, and this “great” defense gets picked to pieces … a million little pieces … by any team with an intermediate passing game.

Prognosis: Get Grossman to stop drinking coffee. Buzz is generating that Chicago wants to focus on depth, with an emphasis on the D line. Expect this gang to stay relatively quiet in free agency and build with the draft. The Windy City brains may look to snag Louisville’s Amobi Okoye, a young, smart talent.



DETROIT LIONS
Printed Comparison
: The 1994 Lonely Planet Travel Guide to Somalia.

Detroit: where hope goes to die.

Prognosis: Sadly, after the dismissal performance of former second-overall-pick Charles Rogers and the complete lack of giving-a-damn by Mike Williams, the pride could actually use the services of a WR. The Ram’s Kevin Curtis will be a nice a fit in free agency. Rumor has it the new-and-improved coaching staff desire the assistance of the selfless and hardworking. I was expecting this team to drop-it-like-it's-hot for Wisconsin’s Joe Thomas until they traded D. Bly for an OT and RB. The Lions have tipped their draft hand and will select DE Gaines Adams with the No. 2 pick in the draft. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before the UN sends aid to Detroit.


GREEN BAY PACKERS
Printed Comparison
: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemmingway (Too obvious? Anthony Quinn could play Brett Favre in the Lifetime Channel’s movie version.) For 1.6 decades the cheese-folk have enjoyed the legendary pigskin slingin’ of Favre, but gone is his flair for the remarkable, and he appears flummoxed when a defense flings zone coverage his way. But, when it all counts the most, Favre can still catch the big fish and make the Wisconsin crowd scream.

What Will They Do?: Gossip columnists are shouting for a Randy Moss trade. That ain’t gonna happen. The intellect of the front office will look to add role players in free agency, and speed in the draft. Don’t be amazed if OSU’s Ted Ginn Jr. is catching balls from the ol’ man in September.


MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Printed Comparison
: Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski.

Like a post-modern slab of art, someone needs to explain this team to me. Occasionally appearing to be a post-season favorite, only to break the aortas of Viking fans across the country, this is the most inconsistent squad in the NFL. Just as the plot of Only Revolutions rotates between two narrators, the Vikings flip-flop between offensive demons one Sunday, and defensive monsters the next … but never both on the same weekend. This team needs leadership or lithium.

Prognosis: Head Coach Brad Childress and front-office guru Rick Spielmann have indicated they would take Irish QB Brady Quinn with the No. 7 pick in the draft. This is inconsistent with what these two have said in the past on the purple QB position, and might be trickery to force Miami to deal up from the ninth pick to obtain the QB. Minnesota, much like the rest of the NFC North, needs a lot to improve and can go several directions to do so.


For Next Class

Read up on Kurt Vonnegut, Monique Truong, Stephen Hawkins, Joseph Heller, and the gonzo traveling-chef Anthony Bourdain.

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