NFC North weekend mailbag

We started the week in post-draft mode and finished it with a Favre-a-palooza frenzy. In between, we had a pretty cool discussion about any number of faulty assumptions we might be making relative to NFC North teams. That post got buried Friday in Favredom, so I'll pick up the weekend mailbag with a link to it as well as some, uh, supplemental assumptions you subsequently sent my way.

Remember, I can be reached via Facebook, Twitter and the traditional mailbag portal. Let's get to it:

Referring to the aforementioned faulty assumptions post, Roger of Minneapolis writes: Kevin, I believe you overlooked the biggest assumption out there. It's that Brett Favre is coming back to the Vikings. Sure, everyone seems to assume it, but there's the all-too-real-possibility that he finally hangs it up. I think even the Vikings brass are assuming he is coming back. That is a big gamble to take when your team is close and aging. This will probably be the last shot for some of their guys. Everyone's hope is riding on Favre not retiring. I mean even in your article, you suggest Favre is automatically coming back by saying will he have another season like last year? The reality is, no one knows if he is coming back.

Kevin Seifert: Roger sent this note before Favre revealed he will need surgery on his left ankle if he wants to play in 2010, and it's a PERFECT example of what I'm talking about. Even in a post about faulty assumptions, we made a big one ourselves. While every available clue suggests Favre wants and plans to play in 2010, we have nothing more than hints and intuition to go by.

No matter how obvious or predictable it might be, we're assuming something that is not yet fact. If we're wrong, the division race would change dramatically in 2010.

On the other hand, the Vikings better not be assuming or hoping or trusting that Favre is returning. They have some level of inside information and certainly a more direct conduit to Favre than we do. I can only believe they have some level of confidence that Favre will return, based on his word and/or medical reports. They've done nothing this offseason to account for the possibility he could retire, and in my mind they would be guilty of gross negligence if that inaction -- possibly conceived to avoid sending him the wrong message -- leaves them in a lurch for 2010.

Globalpack of St. Paul's most faulty assumption is: Al Harris, Will Blackmon and Pat Lee all recovering from their injuries in Green Bay. The Packers seem to be under the assumption that at least two of three will. If that assumption proves wrong there will be a lot more Pitt and AZ games and a lot less Dallas Cowboy games.

Kevin Seifert: I agree to the extent the Packers seem to be counting on at least two, if not all three, of them returning to provide depth. I also agree there is no debating what happened in Pittsburgh and Arizona with the likes of Jarrett Bush, Josh Bell and Brandon Underwood playing significant roles in the secondary.

But I think the more relevant assumption is that the Packers will be fine even if those players are healthy. Let's not forget Harris turns 36 in December. And while Blackmon has excelled as a kick returner, have you see enough of him as a defensive back to feel assured he will be an upgrade? And Lee? He's played in five games over two seasons.

Tom of Detroit offers a number of Lions-related assumptions, including: DeAndre Levy is a good middle linebacker. I believe this is true. However, if he does have a fall-off or flat-line this season, the Lions defense will suffer immensely and find themselves even thinner at LB than they expected.

Kevin Seifert: I think this is fair based on the relative lack of evidence we have on the topic. Levy started 10 games last season, but only two at middle linebacker. To me, there is always a big difference between rookie players who show flashes of skill and a veteran who is expected to produce it regularly. Every successful veteran makes that progression, but not all rookies get to that point. If that makes sense.

And you're right. The Lions haven't given themselves another known option if Levy falters.

Steve of Mankato writes: I don't like how you switched it to "B&B."

Kevin Seifert: Ah, let's take a moment to explain a recent style change in our daily morning post. (For Steve and the other two people who noticed.) We began calling the post "Black and Blue all over," a quite-clever pun on the division's nickname and our attempts to cover it all over the place.

The ESPN.com blog redesign reduced the number of characters in headlines, leaving me with one or two words remaining to capture the lead link. So we shortened it down to "B&B." I'm willing to listen to other suggestions.

Scott of Oakdale writes: So you're going to talk about how the average age of the Vikings is dropping because of a couple of guys that won't even make the roster. Not surprised to see you defend the Vikings again. You know that Favre, Sage, and TJax are going to be the three so we just wasted time reading and writing about this.

Kevin Seifert: Please see this. And this. Thank you and have a pleasant day.

David of Madison, Wis., writes: The video you posted on Mr. Irrelevant got me thinking. As we all know there have been those gems in the draft that are found in late rounds or free agents (Bart Starr). But I was wondering if you could put a list together of all the Mr. Irrelevant for the past several drafts to see if any are still in the league and how long they lasted (also any pro bowls if any of them has them). Love your blog and thanks for your response.

Kevin Seifert: Just for you, David, here is a visual look at Mr. Irrelevants dating back to 1974. Among other things, you'll see that last year's Mr. Irrelevant, Kansas City kicker Ryan Succop, appeared in all 16 games.