As promised, here's a look at what another obscenely early NFL preview magazine thinks of the NFC North for 2008. Lindy's scale is significantly different from Pro Football Weekly's, as they opt to rate teams on a 1-10 scale rather than an A-F scale. They also tally up 10 categories rather than PFW's 8. Here's what they've got for their rankings:
As you can see, this projection shows the NFC North as being a little bit more balanced than PFW's did. The Vikings have the highest ranking in 3 of the 10 categories (RB, DL, and Intangibles), with the Packers, Bears, and Lions having the outright lead in 2 categories each and the Packers and Bears tying for the highest ranking in the secondary category.
Ranking Green Bay's offensive line ahead of Minnesota's is completely laughable, but I'm not going to get into the reasons why here tonight. It should be pretty obvious to anyone that's seen both teams play who the better OL is. But, Lindy's makes up for that by coming to the realization that Tarvaris Jackson is a better quarterback than Aaron Rodgers, and is at least as good as whatever warm body the Bears start at quarterback.
Lindy's also does rankings of the best units in the league. (Must. . .refrain. . .from. . .Ron. . .Jeremy. . .jokes. Not. . .that. . .unit.) Let's look at where the Vikings rank in some of those categories.
Running Game - #2
"While the name Adrian Peterson carries marquee value, the key to this attack is a fabulous offensive line with a hardcore interior that provides a plethora of options for any runner. Peterson just so happens to maximize those opportunities. Chester Taylor is a perfect No. 2 and Maurice Hicks a respectable No. 3. The mixture is spiced with a mobile quarterback as well as a superb addition in lead fullback Thomas Tapeh. This group will do damage figuratively and literally to the opposition."
Offensive Line - Ranked as a unit to "keep an eye on"
"The Vikings' starting five is a powerful cast that proved an immovable force at times. The interior trio has few peers. If Bryant McKinnie maximizes potential, forget about it."
In something that's sort of funny, they also rated Green Bay's offensive line as the "Biggest Disappointment." Which, you know, makes it that much funnier that their rankings put Green Bay's line above Minnesota's.
Defensive Line - #1
"Without question, the Vikings will field the best starting foursome in the league. Kevin Williams and Pat Williams rank as the best inside tandem assembled in memory. The addition of Jared Allen guarantees the Vikes are without peer. Ray Edwards will reap the benefits of blockers focusing schemes to battle his linemates. The supporting troops are solid as well."
As far as individual players, here are the Vikings that are listed:
Running Backs - Adrian Peterson #5 (say what?)
Fullbacks - Thomas Tapeh #6
Left Tackles - Bryant McKinnie #10
Left Guards - Steve Hutchinson #1
Center - Matt Birk #6
Left Defensive End - Ray Edwards listed to have a "Breakout Season"
Right Defensive End - Jared Allen #3
Defensive Tackle - Kevin Williams #1
Nose Tackle - Pat Williams #2
Outside Linebackers - Chad Greenway listed to have a "Breakout Season"
Free Safeties - Madieu Williams #7
That's everyone. The fact that Lindy's listed 15 middle linebackers and didn't once mention the name of E.J. Henderson is ludicrous, as is the fact that Darren Sharper's name isn't on the list of strong OR free safeties.
And yes, I focused this one pretty much on Minnesota as opposed to the rest of the division. Why? Because it's getting late and I'm tired. I might expound on this in a future post. . .then again, there will hopefully be more magazines coming out here in the relatively near future.
That's all for tonight, folks. . .have fun discussing this, and we'll see you back here tomorrow.