The NFC North may be the toughest division in football. With the Packers bringing back most of their number one seeded team, the young Lions finally making the playoffs, the Bears only getting better on offense with the addition of Brandon Marshall, and the Vikings leaders getting a year of experience under their belt, this could be a barn burner all the way to the end of the season. Plenty of big names all around with Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Adrian Peterson and Calvin Johnson, only to name a few. A division that was once know as a mostly defensive division, NFC North finally has some offensive firepower.
This division is so close, that one up and comer can decide who is the division winner. Breakout candidates are all over the NFC North and picking one per team is difficult. There are many question marks when it comes to returns from injury (Forte, Cutler, Peterson) where maybe some backups can become future starters. Guys will become known and they will provide a future big payday in the division everyone will have their eyes on.
Chicago Bears- Chris Conte
The Bears were a little thin at safety last year. Brandon Meriweather was a complete disaster. Major Wright was decent but still gave up big plays. The only bright spot is Conte showed some definite promise. A third rounder out of Cal, Conte showed promise in limited work. He played against some of the most prolific passing offenses in the NFL, and seemed like he never got beat. Looking at the 2012 schedule, outside of the division they aren't playing the best of passing offenses. This could help Conte get some confidence coming out of his first season as a starter. Conte was so good that he was picked to the all rookie team even though he missed the last two games. Conte will never be the ball hawk like some safeties, but he will be a big hitter and can break up passes with the best of them. He forces fumbles and covers like glue, expect this guy to bring the Bears defense back to prominence.
Detroit Lions- Kyle Vanden Bosch