Green with envy

Despite adding depth through free agency and the NFL draft, the Packers are still heavy favorites to win the NFC North division this year.

With the addition of the expansion Houston Texans, the NFL divisions had a bit of a shake-up, the Bears, Lions, Packers, and Vikings now makeup the new NFC North division. Tampa Bay had been in the former NFC central for many years, and had they been in the NFC North, they would have been favored to win the division over the Bears as well.

The Bears draft was graded high, and they made some key signings at positions of where they felt they were weak. On the other hand, the Packers were not very active in free agency, losing WR's Antonio Freeman, Bill Schroeder and Corey Bradford along with the retirement of pro-bowl safety LeRoy Butler.

Green Bay did make a couple of good veteran pickups on defense signing two former pro-bowl defenders including MLB Hardy Nickerson and DE Joe Johnson. Nickerson, after spending many pro-bowl years in Tampa Bay began to struggle once he went to Jacksonville, while trying to fight off some nagging injuries. Johnson had a great season in 2000 with 12 sacks for the Saints; his numbers fell off to 9 sacks last season.

The Bears seem to have more depth and quality at every position compared to the Packers, except for quarterback. Chicago will have the combo of veterans Jim Miller and Chris Chandler, while the Green Bay will return with all-pro and future hall of fame quarterback Brett Favre.

Favre's experience and success for years has validated his status among the best in NFL history, while the Bears have two journeymen quarterbacks. In Packer-land, Favre's job is to win games for the green and gold, while in Chicago, Jim Miller's job is to play mistake free. Chicago will plan to run the ball, control the clock and play good defense to win games. On the other hand Green Bay will try to hit the opponent with their passing attack and become the aggressor.

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