MT. VERNON —
About the only other division in football that is as loaded with competition is the one the Bears reside in, the NFC North.
The Packers, Vikings and Bears all won at least 10 games. The Bears finished 10-6 and found themselves on the outside of the playoff picture. It's a statistical oddity that hasn't happened in years. Typically, a 10-win team is a sure bet for the postseason.
As a Bears fan, I am a bit concerned. Chicago didn't do a ton in the offseason to take additional steps to improve. And in the NFL, if you stay the same often it seems your team is in for a regression in wins.
Within the division, the Packers and Vikings will again be solid playoff contenders. I expect the Lions to bounce back from an awful 2012. Detroit started the season 4-4 before ending the year with eight-game slide. It seems a squad with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson on offense would repeat a similar disaster. They do need to sure up a porous.
Another intriguing aspect of the season comes in week 12 when the Bears travel to St. Louis for a Sunday matchup. The Bears topped the Rams last year, but it should be a close game this season.
Paul Hines is the sports editor at the Register-News.