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Could Vikings, Packers Battle for NFC North Supremacy for Years?

Posted Feb 25, 2016

When the Vikings won the NFC North in 2015, it ended a four-year division run by the Green Bay Packers.

A look back at recent history showed the teams have combined to win eight of the last nine division titles. 

Rob Demovsky of suggested that the teams could be the main contenders in the NFC North for the foreseeable future.

There’s little evidence to suggest the division is anything other than a two-horse race, other than the notion that things can change quickly in the NFL. Except that doesn’t seem to happen in the NFC North, where the Packers have won five titles since 2007, the Vikings three and the Bears one (in 2010, when the Packers won the Super Bowl).

This past season, the Vikings ended the Packers’ run of four straight division titles, edging Green Bay by one game (11-5 to 10-6). The Lions (7-9) and Bears (6-10) both were under .500. By most accounts, the Lions will lose their most explosive offensive player, Calvin Johnson, while the Bears still don’t know if Jay Cutler is the quarterback to lead them back to the playoffs.

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman was asked Wednesday if he thinks the NFC North will be a race between Minnesota and Green Bay.

“No, I think Detroit has a very good football team. And Chicago, I have the utmost respect for what John Fox has done everywhere where he’s been,” Spielman said. “I think it’s going to be a very competitive division next year. Even though we’ve had success and built on that this past year and were able to win the division, we still haven’t reached all of our goals. Every year is a new year. You can’t predict injuries, you can’t predict what’s going to happen with players. We have to take the approach that it’s starting over. What we did last year doesn’t matter. It’s what we’re going to do going forward, and that’s the approach we’re going to have to take.”

Could the combine see changes to drills?

Tom Pelissero of USA TODAY Sports reported earlier this week that National Football Scouting Inc., is establishing a committee of league executives, scouts, coaches, athletic trainers and others to review all phases of the NFL Scouting Combine.

Matt Vensel of the Star Tribune took a look at that report and asked Spielman his thoughts on tests or drills possibly being eliminated or replaced.

Spielman said Wednesday that he hopes most or all of the tests, which include the 40-yard dash and the bench press, remain intact. 

“The one thing is when you start changing everything, then what are you comparing it to? Because as you go through history, you’re always comparing [combine results],” he said. “You’re trying to compare apples to apples, so if you start changing things, then you’re creating a set of oranges now.”

Fullback Line earns praise for 2015 play

Vikings fullback Zach Line was a key part of Minnesota’s offense this season as he helped pave the way for the fourth-best rushing attack in the league.

Line helped running back Adrian Peterson rush for 1,465 yards and 11 touchdowns as Peterson claimed his third-career rushing title.

Line was recently recognized by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report for his efforts as Miller ranked him as the eighth-best fullback in the NFL in 2015.

With the power to shock defenders when they meet, Line impresses as a runner and blocker. He not only absorbs contact when matching up against defenders, but he delivers contact too. With the ball in his hands, Line can also pick up plus yards after first contact.

Miller also praised Line’s speed and agility and noted he can do more than just block.

Line's 4.77 speed shows impressive movement skills for a fullback. With his agility, short-area quickness and open-field speed, he's a threat as a runner and receiver.