This division seems to be made up of the haves and the have nots. Unfortunately, it's hard to tell which is which from year to year.
The Bears. Ditka is gone. Payton is gone (R.I.P.), and they once again have a vaunted defense and running game. Brian Urlacher is the best linebacker around (sorry Ray, don't shoot me). Jim Miller will have a much better season this year as he gets comfortable with his stable of great wide receivers. Booker, White, Terrell and Robinson will each catch their share of balls. Bad for fantasy football. Robinson should return to his old form. He may or not get his job back from Booker. Who may or may not get his old job back. Or White may take it. It's a toss up. I wouldn't put any on my roster until we know what's going on. Pick up Robinson if he's a free agent. A-Train will rumble on to another 1,100+ yard season. Look for 10 TDs as well. You hope that they're your starting (and only) defense.
The Lions. Have nots all the way. All they seem to get every year is a high draft pick. They picked up Az (I like to drop perfectly good passes for no reason) Hakim, Bill Schroeder (will I be healthy this year, not sure), and Joey Harrington (I'm much better than that other guy, yet I don't start. Puzzling). Leave Mike McMahon on your free agent list. Don't start either receiver. Schroeder is inconsistent, but if he's healthy with a good matchup, he can play ball. Stewart can be your backup #2 back in a pinch. LaMont Warren should be starting, and if he gets a chance, pick him up. Nice, explosive move to the hole and quick feet. There defense stinks, but you know that.
Cheeseheads unite! No quarterback in the NFL is a model of consistency like Brett Favre. His off years are pro-bowl calibur seasons. Start him every week, even if he's throwing to He Hate Me out of the backfield. Ahman Green is a stud back. I've heard in some circles that he's due for an injury soon. The only thing I think he's due for is a 2,000 all-purpose yard season with 10+ TDs. If Terry Glenn is healthy, he'll put up HUGE numbers in this system. Big if. Robert Ferguson should stay free agent fodder in your league. Watch out for Donald Driver though. Him and Walker could be the tandem of the future for GB. They've solidified their defense also, with Joe Johnson in there to give additional pressure on the pocket. They're a starting calibur D. Start the offensive players on this team at your leisure. Someone has to catch those bombs that Favre throws. I'm putting my money on Driver and Walker if Glenn Stays hurt. They HAVE a lot of talent.
That brings us to the hardest team to guess. The Purple People eaters. I went to college with Daunte Culpepper. He won me all three of my leagues in his rookie year because no one had heard of him. He lost everyone in those leagues the title last year. His left tackle spot is cursed, and they protect his blind side. He'll have a very good year if the line holds up. Don't hesitate to trade for him. Moss, on the other hand, will tear it up. He wants ALL the records. I'm not sure why he doesn't already have them. Start him every week. He's so good, I would start him during the Bye week (I'm obvously joking). D'Wayne Bates makes a nice #2 for Moss and a nice #3 for your team. Start him without worry. Leave D. Alexander behind. He's old and injury prone. Let him take some hits before you put him on your bench. Michael Bennett? Aye, that's the rub. He's got jets on his feet, and at the same time, he doesn't know how to find holes or dance. If he can get a healthy group in front of him, he'll be in for a 900+ yard season with 5-8 TDs. A nice #2 or backup. The offensive line is the biggest question. Don't play their defense. EVER. They've got a lot to prove. By the middle of the season, you might just pick them up off of the free agent list. Biekert is a REALLY nice anchor to that D.
I see the...Vikings taking this division. I know I knocked them, but I like Mike (Tice that is) and see them doing much better without Carter on the sidelines beating up my man Daunte. Watch their three top weapons explode for weeks on end. I see them lighting it up like the 1998 Vikings. Watch them.
Next: AFC East (Dolphins baby, Dolphins!)