2012 NFL preview: Picking the NFC North

I didn't feel compelled to make any bold predictions or outside-the-box projections for the 2012 ESPN.com NFL season preview. The balky knee of Chicago Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has made some people nervous, but in the end it wasn't enough to move me off the themes we've been discussing since early summer.

Along with most of my ESPN.com colleagues, I see the NFC North finishing this way:

  1. Green Bay Packers

  2. Chicago Bears

  3. Detroit Lions

  4. Minnesota Vikings

In my case and that of two other colleagues, the question of the Bears or Lions finishing second in the division is nearly moot. We picked the Bears and Lions for the NFC's two wild-card spots. Brilliant prophecy or a cop out? We'll find out in four months.

Some other notes from the preview/prediction package:

  • All 16 ESPN.com analysts picked the Packers to win the NFC North. Of that total, 13 had the Packers winning the NFC and nine picked them to win Super Bowl XLVII, more than any other team.

  • Jeffri Chadiha was the only ESPN/ESPN.com analyst to pick the Lions to finish No. 2 in the division.

  • Ten ESPN.com analysts had the Bears as a wild-card team, while six tapped the Lions. As we noted, three had both of them.

  • Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers got nine of 16 votes to win the MVP, more than any other player.

  • Follow these links for the individual preview pages for the Packers, Bears, Lions and Vikings.

  • Check out the video for concise thoughts on why I slotted each team where I did.