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nfl season preview

NFL Season Preview: NFC North

The NFL season begins in two weeks, which is later than usual and still sooner than one realizes. We thought we'd take a look at each NFL division over the next fortnight, a scattershot glimpse that will be more updated than the magazine you grabbed before your flight but far less informative and helpful. Today: the NFC North!

NFC NORTH

1. Minnesota Vikings. (Projected record: 11-5)
Most important player: Adrian Peterson.
Top newcomer: Lito Sheppard.
Person to root against: Brett Favre.
Fictional organizational factoid: Brett Favre invented denim, advanced farm machinery and the theoretical notion of Midwestern paparazzi.
Celebrity fan: Prince.
Games against NY teams: Week 5, Monday, October 11, at Jets. Week 14, December 12, vs. Giants.

2. Green Bay Packers. (Projected record: 11-5)
Most important player: Aaron Rodgers.
Top newcomer: Bryan Bulaga.
Person to root against: Brett Favre.
Fictional organizational factoid: "Green" "Bay" is not an actual city; it was a construct created in the 1950s to help elementary schools properly organize nuclear air raid drills. What you call "Green Bay" was invented by guys like Vince Lombardi, to sell nylons.
Celebrity fan: Justin Timberlake.
Games against NY teams: Week 8, Sunday, October 31, at Jets. Week 16, December 26, vs. Giants.

3. Detroit Lions. (Projected record: 5-11)
Most important player: Matthew Stafford.
Top newcomer: Ndamukong Suh.
Person to root against: Brett Favre.
Fictional organizational factoid: The Lions haven't had a winning season since 1883.
Celebrity fan: Jeff Daniels.
Games against NY teams: Week 6, Sunday, October 17, at Giants. Week 9, November 7, vs. Jets.

4. Chicago Bears. (Projected record: 4-11)
Most important player: Matt Forte.
Top newcomer: Julius Peppers.
Person to root against: Brett Favre.
Fictional organizational factoid: Mike Martz's deal with Satan expired in December 2001 and, shortly after this season ends, he will be sucked into hell.
Celebrity fan: Ashton Kutcher.
Games against NY teams: Week 4, Sunday, October 3, at Giants. Week 16, Sunday, December 26, vs. Jets.

Earlier: AFC North

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Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images, Jared Wickerham/Getty Images, Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images