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NFC North: Black and Blue and Really Good

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The returning Super Bowl champs, the NFC North champs and conference finalists, and an exciting up-and-coming team all come from the NFC North. 

    This division looks to be the strongest its been in years. The Packers, Bears and Lions all had big wins this week ... and the Vikings played, too.

    The Packers started things off on Thursday, when Aaron Rodgers threw for three touchdowns to beat the Saints. Matthew Stafford followed that up with a 305-yard performance to lead the Lions over the Bucs. Add in Jay Cutler's big game, and the NFC North just may be considered the conference of quarterbacks.

    Except, again, for the Vikings. Donovan McNabb threw for 39 yards in a loss to the Chargers. 39. That's not a typo. Relying on the running game didn't help much, as the Vikings only put together 159 yards on the ground, meaning that they had less than 200 yards of total offense.

    But the defenses of the NFC North have earned a reputation, and that won't go away quickly. They compiled 12 sacks and created seven turnovers. Even the Vikings were good on defense.

    These performances were good enough to make Shutdown Corner, Yahoo! Sports' NFL blog, place three NFC North teams in their absurdly premature playoff picture. They give the Packers the No. 1 seed and wildcard berths to the Bears and Lions. The Bears would face the Rams on wildcard weekend, while the Lions would face the Eagles.

    It's very early in the season, but it's rare that so many teams from the black and blue division would be so dominant.

    Well, everyone except the Vikings.