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Monday, July 26, 2010
Training camp power rankings: NFC North

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

We've made it! We've finally started a week that will end with real, live, fully-padded football practices! If you didn't realize it before, then surely the arrival of ESPN.com's training camp power rankings will put you in the appropriate mindset. Our four voters -- John Clayton, along with blog colleagues Paul Kuharsky, Mike Sando and James Walker -- pretty much left the NFC North where they found them at the end of the 2009 season.

More than anything, our panel hasn't bought into my suggestion that the Green Bay Packers should be the preseason favorites to win the division. The Minnesota Vikings are ESPN.com's highest-rated Black and Blue team, followed by the Packers, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

Here is the breakdown:

3. Minnesota Vikings
Final 2009 ranking: 3
Spring ranking: 3
Comment: The Vikings enter camp with enough questions that it's fair to wonder if their two-year reign as division champions will continue.

6. Green Bay Packers
Final 2009: 6
Spring: 6
Comment: Some of us think the Packers caught up to the Vikings during the second half of last season. The specter of their defensive collapse in the playoffs might have held back some voters.

21. Chicago Bears
Final 2009: 22
Spring: 21
Comment: The careers of many, many Bears people are riding on this season. Voters must not like the accompanying pressure.

29. Detroit Lions
Final 2009: 31
Spring: 31
Comment: Thank goodness for the St. Louis Rams, Buffalo Bills and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.