The NFC North has been ruled by the Green Bay Packers in recent years, but the Detroit Lions came pretty close to dethroning them last season. This year, the Lions and the rising Minnesota Vikings are viewed as potential threats to the Packers' crown, but Green Bay is still viewed by most as the favorite within the division.
In an effort to preview the upcoming season, NFL.com's Dave Dameshek is putting together all-star teams for each division in the league, and his All-NFC North Team does a good job of illustrating where things stand in 2015 from a perception standpoint. I say that because the Lions, Packers and Vikings are in a tier of their own with at least seven players each. The Chicago Bears, meanwhile, only put two players on the list.
To be specific, the Lions actually led the way with nine total players on the All-NFC North Team; the Packers and Vikings each had seven players. Here are the nine Lions who made the cut:
Wide receiver: Calvin Johnson
Offensive tackle: Riley Reiff
Offensive guard: Larry Warford
Defensive end: Ziggy Ansah
Defensive tackle: Haloti Ngata
Inside linebacker: Stephen Tulloch
Safety: Glover Quin
Kicker: Matt Prater
Punter: Sam Martin
It's impressive to see just how much talent the Lions have accumulated on offense, defense and special teams, but the lack of DeAndre Levy is the main thing that stands out to me. Clay Matthews and Anthony Barr are talented players, but Levy deserves a spot on the defensive side of the ball, and you could make a strong case that Darius Slay or Rashean Mathis should be on there as well.
Other than that, I suppose my main takeaway is that the NFC North sure looks like it is going to be a three-team race this year between the Lions, Packers and Vikings. It was only a two-team race last year, but the Vikings have made a lot of improvements to their roster this offseason, especially with the return of Adrian Peterson. Based on looking at the All-NFC North Team, basically everybody in the division but the Bears has the potential to be contenders this season.