NFC North Tour: QB Breakdown

We begin our positional look at the Green Bay Packers and their NFC North rivals with Week 1 approaching. We start with the quarterbacks — a star-studded group featuring Aaron Rodgers, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and Donovan McNabb.

Green Bay Packers

Starter — Aaron Rodgers. Backups — Matt Flynn, Graham Harrell.

Don't expect Rodgers to have a hangover from being the Super Bowl MVP and leading the Packers on a brilliant title run through the playoffs. He is on the cusp of joining Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the pedestal of league's best quarterback and could knock both of them off this season, just Rodgers' fourth year as a starter. He stood out as the top-rated quarterback this preseason with mistake-free precision on his throws and effectively running the no-huddle that was to his liking and produced touchdowns. The key for Rodgers is to avoid any more trauma to his head after enduring two concussions last season. Flynn has reaped the benefits of being in Rodgers' shadow the last four years and, based off his productive fill-in start for Rodgers at New England late last season and another big preseason, appears ready to lead an offense on a full-time basis. That won't happen in Green Bay for some time, so general manager Ted Thompson has to give strong consideration to moving Flynn for a high draft pick in return, especially with the hungry backup in his contract year. The steady progression exhibited by Harrell in his second preseason with the team could influence the decision on Flynn.

Chicago Bears

Starter — Jay Cutler. Backups — Caleb Hanie, Nathan Enderle.

Cutler made significant strides last season, despite operating behind a porous offensive line, which he could have blamed for some of his struggles but did not. In two season as the Bears' quarterback against Green Bay, Cutler's thrown four touchdowns and nine interceptions. Last year's No. 3, Caleb Hanie, has moved up to the No. 2 spot with the rookie Enderle as the No 3. It remains to be seen if Hanie's solid performance in last season's NFC title game against the Packers won over offensive coordinator Mike Martz, who was not one of Hanie's biggest fans last season. Enderle was not drafted to be a No. 3 forever, but he's considered a project.

Detroit Lions

Starter — Matthew Stafford; Backups — Shaun Hill, Drew Stanton, Zac Robinson.

There is only one knock against Stafford, and that's his durability. He has missed 19 games the last two seasons, playing in three and finishing only one last season. But the Lions won the only game he finished and were leading the other two when he went down. He has a strong, accurate arm and a firm grasp of the offense. The Packers have seen Stafford only once, and his throwing shoulder was injured in that game, so they really have no idea about the rival quarterback. In Hill, the Lions feel they have one of the best backups in the business. He and Stanton engineered the Lions four-game season-ending win streak last season.

Minnesota Vikings

Starter — Donovan McNabb. Backups — Christian Ponder, Joe Webb.

McNabb, who will turn 35 in November, is going to be the starter this season unless he gets injured. That will give Ponder, the 12th pick overall in the April draft, time to learn the offense and take it slowly after not being able to be around the coaching staff during the offseason because of the NFL lockout. Ponder and Webb are battling for the No. 2 job but with teams allowed to dress and play 46 men on game day, it's possible Webb could end up as the third-string quarterback while being used in a variety of packages. McNabb is attempting to rebound from an extremely disappointing one-year stint in Washington in which he threw a career-worst 15 interceptions. In six career games against Green Bay, he's accounted for 13 touchdowns (10 passing, three rushing) and three interceptions.

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