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Air and Space: Rising pass attempts

The point of this year’s Air and Space feature has been to document the impact of potentially elite quarterback play in the previously rough-and-tumble NFC North. Would Brett Favre, Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford join Aaron Rodgers and elevate us into a pass-happy division? Or would we maintain a run-first, grind-it-out mentality?

I’ll leave a full analysis for after the season, but we have a big enough sample size to start considering the numbers. Here’s the bottom line: Through 13 games, all four of our teams are among the NFL’s top 11 in pass attempts. The breakdown:

5. Detroit Lions (487)

8. Chicago Bears (460)

10. Minnesota Vikings (449)

11. Green Bay Packers (447)

We should keep in mind that the numbers in Detroit and Chicago might be skewed because they’ve played from behind so often. Still, as a whole, we’ve seen a substantial jump not a year-over-year jump for both the Lions and Vikings. For reference, here’s how the four NFC North teams ranked in 2008:

9. Green Bay Packers (541)

14. Chicago Bears (528)

18. Detroit Lions (509)

28. Minnesota Vikings (452)

There’s more to consider here, including how these figures compare to other divisions and the impact on our running games. But unless we witness some dramatic changes over the final three games of the season, we’ll be able to conclude that the NFC North’s style of play took a significant turn in 2009.