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Thursday, March 11, 2010
How I See It: NFC North Stock Watch

By Kevin Seifert

Falling

Bryant McKinnie, Minnesota left tackle. Julius Peppers' arrival in the NFC North is another hit in a tough offseason for McKinnie. In a nationally televised matchup last December, Peppers dominated McKinnie so thoroughly that the Vikings eventually benched him. In that game, Peppers notched one sack, had three quarterback hits and also batted down a pass. As Chicago's top free-agent pickup, Peppers will now face the Vikings -- and potentially McKinnie -- twice a season. Peppers has played on both the right and left side of the defensive line in his career, but the Bears are sure to be tempted to match him up on McKinnie when the teams play in 2010.

Rising

Gunther Cunningham, Detroit defensive coordinator. Good players make for good coaches. So you can expect Cunningham to be a better coordinator in 2010 after an overhaul of the defensive line that might not be done yet. The Lions already are better at two positions, with Kyle Vanden Bosch taking over for defensive end Dewayne White and Corey Williams succeeding nose tackle Grady Jackson. If the Lions draft a defensive tackle No. 2 overall, they will have pulled together a more-than-competitive defensive front that will create more havoc in the backfield and get more heat on the quarterback. The first place to address any woebegone defense is up front, and Cunningham will be the beneficiary in 2010.