Hey, nothing personal....I bleed as much purple blood as anyone here....but the poll has it about right. Assuming TO doesn't melt down in the middle of the year, the Eagles are just as strong as they were last season and should be the favorites. Don't let the departure of Corey Simon fool you...coaches thought he was out of shape and was replaceable by the other talent they had there. And if any of you saw the Panthers during the second half of the season last year, you know what they are capable of (and that was still missing a bunch of players). Yes, Muhammed is gone but Steve Smith is back, Keary Colbert has a good year under him, and Rod Gardner isn't chopped liver. With Nick Goings proving himself last year and Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster returning from injury, the Panthers should have a potent running game to go with a good passing attack. Add that to an already strong defense, especially the front seven, and you have a team with all the pieces in place for a title run.
If the Vikings had come out in the preseason with the first teamers showing they could run the ball effectively, and the first team defense had shut down the opponents, I would feel much stronger about the Vikings title hopes than I do now. Now Birk is lost for the year, the running game has been less than impressive and three of the top four backs are nicked up, and the defense (while improved) hasn't been all that impressive. They should win the NFC North, but I think they'll have to beat the Panthers or the Eagles (or both) to advance to the Super Bowl. And should one or both of those games be on the road, it will be very tough indeed.