It's the off-season for the folks over at NFL.com, too, and they've put together something that poses an interesting question. They've put together an all-division team for each of the NFL's eight divisions and ranked them according to who they think would be the best.
Now, let's start by taking a look at all-NFC North team that they put together. Of the 22 available spots, nine of them are occupied by members of the Minnesota Vikings. The entire team looks like this:
Quarterback: Aaron Rodgers
Running Back: Adrian Peterson
Wide Receivers: Calvin Johnson, Brandon Marshall, Greg Jennings
Tight End: Kyle Rudolph
Offensive Tackles: Jermon Bushrod, Matt Kalil
Guards: Brandon Fusco, T.J. Lang
Center: John Sullivan
Defensive Ends: Jared Allen, Julius Peppers
Defensive Tackles: Ndamukong Suh, Henry Melton
Outside Linebackers: Chad Greenway, Clay Matthews
Inside Linebacker: Stephen Tulloch
Cornerbacks: Sam Shields, Charles Tillman
Safeties: Harrison Smith, Glover Quin
A couple of things that catch my eye. As far as the offensive line is concerned, I'm very surprised to see Brandon Fusco on there, considering how we've heard (and seen) that he's the weak link on the offensive line for the Vikings. I'm equally surprised to not see Phil Loadholt on there, since he's probably the best right tackle in the division. Frankly, I'd probably swap Fusco for Josh Sitton and Bushrod for Loadholt, which would still leave the Vikings with nine of the 22 spots on the team.
Now, as far as their rankings for these all-division teams, they have the NFC North as the second-best collection of all the groups, behind only the NFC West. Don't get me wrong, I understand that everyone loves the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks, who combine to occupy 17 of the 22 spots on the all-NFC West team, and with good reason. . .both of those squads have a pretty impressive collection of talent.
But, for crying out loud, look at the offense on this all-NFC North team.
To start with, you've got the best player in the league at the quarterback position, the best player in the league at the running back position, and the best player in the league at the wide receiver position. The guy that would line up at the #2 receiver spot for this club is Brandon Marshall. That guy caught 118 passes last season when everyone knew the ball was coming his way. Double-team either Marshall or Megatron? Well, that just leaves you with fewer defenders to slow down or stop Adrian Peterson. Not to mention a healthy Greg Jennings as a third receiving option or Kyle Rudolph in the red zone.
Sure, the defense is a little dicey in spots, even though it's still awfully good. But with that offense? I'm not sure how much it would matter.
The imbalance between the conferences is interesting to note, too. . .four of the top five spots are occupied by NFC divisions, with only the AFC North (who the NFC North teams will be taking on this year) preventing a clean sweep.
What do you think of the NFL.com all-division teams? Where do you think this all-NFC North group would land in such a tournament?