NFC North: Home of the best players in the world — Part 2

By
Updated: March 1, 2013

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews III has been nothing short of dominant since he entered the league.

Yesterday in the first half of this series, we lauded the talents and accomplishments of marquee players from the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. Today we conclude our tour around the NFC North by highlighting the superstars from the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

Green Bay Packers

Long considered one of America’s teams, the Green Bay Packers have been a top-grossing franchise every season since 1993. They are arguably the most storied franchise in the NFL and they play in one of its most beloved stadium, which has been sold out every game since Vince Lombardi hunted brontosaurs with a spear.   They would not be considered any of these things unless they had superb players on the field every Sunday to put fans in the stands. The roster is stocked with several  above-average players like wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, guard Josh Sitton, and punter Tim Masthay. Then there’s the great, the ones who stand as some of the best players in the world.

Aaron Rodgers

Almost no one would try to make a serious argument that Aaron Rodgers is not the best quarterback in the league. He has every tool a team could hope for in a professional quarterback: smarts, speed, a rocket of an arm, pinpoint accuracy, and pocket intelligence. He can scramble and make a game-changing play on every snap. He may never replicate his stellar performance of 2011, but there is no doubt that at 29 years of age, he is just entering his prime. As other superstars like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees begin to age, Rodgers will continue to reign supreme.

Clay Matthews III

Clay Matthews III has an “it” factor not seen in any other player at the linebacker position. Blessed with as much speed as a wide receiver or running back, he has no quit button, no second gear, and no weak metric anywhere in his system. What Matthews has done to opposing offensive linemen the past four years should be considered illegal. He is a threat not just against the pass but also against the run, even it is a sweep to the opposite side of the field. He holds the point, and he even has a few interceptions and touchdowns under his belt to prove his coverage skills.

Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji has all the tools to make him one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL.

Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji has all the tools to make him one of the premier defensive tackles in the NFL.

B.J. Raji

Defensive tackle in a 3-4 scheme is not a glamorous position. There are no no photo shoots, no cover stories, and precious little glory. The job description is simple: be the toughest SOB on the field and take punishment, so others can reel in the fame. B.J. Raji has proven himself one of the best run-stuffing nose tackles in the game — hands down. He might not have that full-season consistency one looks for, but the finger wag he trots out like clockwork after every big stop is so reminiscent Dikembe Mutombo. Oh, and he has a rushing touchdown to his credit too.

Minnesota Vikings

Here is an historic franchise that has come within a play or two of winning the Super Bowl, but has yet to see its name inscribed on the Lombardi Trophy. I honestly believe that the Minnesota Vikings and not the New Orleans Saints should have won it all in 2009. It’s unfortunate that that with Brett Favre at the helm, they shot themselves in the foot repeatedly in the NFC Championship Game. They would have beaten the Indianapolis Colts far more convincingly than the Saints did.

Minnesota has been described as a one-dimensional offense for years, but they have had a punishing defense to back it up. They are an old-school team that takes what opponents give them, punches them in the mouth, and grinds them down. Their roster features one obvious superstar and several in the making. In a year or two, players like safety Harrison Smith and tight Kyle Rudolph will be listed here, but for now they are an echelon below. They have the skills to set them apart; now they just need to demonstrate some consistency.

Adrian Peterson

It would be difficult to overstate the contributions Adrian Peterson makes to this team. He is the unquestioned heavyweight champion of the world at the running back position. He is the Rumble in the Jungle. He destroy men’s shoulders, their knees, their confidence, even their jockstrap. As a Packers fan, I may hate the Vikings, but Peterson himself commands an unbelievable amount of respect.

No helmet? No problem. Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen isn’t going to let a minor issue like that get in his way.

Jared Allen

He might be a shameless hillbilly, but Jared Allen can play defensive end with the best of them. Like his Chicago Bears counterpart Julius Peppers, he is a sackmaster and a threat against the run on every play. He is also a master motivator. Neither a finesse player nor a genetic freak, Allen is a technician of the game. He beats his opponents with technique rather than overwhelming strength, speed, or power. He has some of the best moves and handwork that I have ever seen. He knows how to put offensive linemen off balance better than most. He gets them to kick back hard but cut under neath, or he pushes their far shoulder perpendicular to the line of scrimmage in order to cross face. Allen has a motor that just doesn’t quit. It would be safe to say that 25 percent of his sacks I have seen happened because he refused to quite and the secondary bought him an extra half second to get to the quarterback.

Percy Harvin

More than just a wide receiver, Percy Harvin is used in every situation from kick returner to halfback to slop back — whatever it takes to find a mismatch. He is a dynamic player, a game changer, and a burner. He love to win. He is a genetic freak who is off of the leash. If he had a better quarterback throwing him balls and another receiving threat to line up across from him, Harvin could join the elite stat club. For now, he’s content to win games while making opponents look stupid.

Show a little appreciation

The men I’ve mentioned the past two days spoil us with their astonishing talent and amazing exploits week after week. It’s become easy for us to overlook their contributions because we’ve come to take them for granted. Hopefully, shining the hot light of praise on these men will make each of us more aware of what they do on our television screens on any given Sunday.

About the author

Himself a veteran of the gridiron, Water Cooler Sports Network columnist Jacob Vincent is noted for his fiery, passionate writing style when analyzing the triumphs and foibles of players on the football field. A lifelong Green Bay Packers fan, he has been forced to live with his wife and children in the state of Iowa. He can be reached for questions, comments, or suggestions for articles at .

653 comments
Buhlitz
Buhlitz

Ravens played like a fiddle

I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa

 The sound quality is grating. I wish these people would use microphones. It would be so much more tolerable on the ear.

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

  I was laughing my ass off during this video

I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa

 I agree with everything he says. I think this contract is the petard on which Ozzie Newsome will be hoisted. It's going to decimate their roster.

SDL
SDL

Good Night Cub Scout molesters 


I bless the rains down in Africa
I bless the rains down in Africa

I am going to be hobbling tomorrow. I just spent the last five hours rollerskating. I love skating with a passion. I wish we had the money to do it more often.

SDL
SDL

 

Wanna buy some good used RollerBlades?

SDL
SDL

So, the Badgers hockey team starts the season 1-7-4 (somethin' like that) and then they go on a fucking tear...

something like 15-4-4 since.

Just swept the UNO Mavericks here on the Mavs home ice... 4-3 last night in pretty good game. 6-2 tonight in a major ass-whoopin'


last night's game was telecast in HD on NBCSN... no TV, tonite

Tried AmericaOneSports.com (that's the site linked from the Badgers website.. as far as I could tell: the only live video broadcast)

For $8.00 got the game live, but not in HD and either the audio was fucked or you only get audio during timeouts.

Pictures was shit, sound was shit, and couldn't even listen to the game on the radio while watching.. the sound was out of synch due to delays in either the webcast or the radio show

Bottom line: save your fucking money.

Yawelcome

ReggiesNoJackpondavre
ReggiesNoJackpondavre moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

damn, took a nice chunk out of my thumb putting some studs on this vest haha

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3

 

I bet that felt amazing lol 

ReggiesNoJackpondavre
ReggiesNoJackpondavre moderator

  

ive put on 100s of these things in my life and this is my first chunk lost haha

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3 like.author.displayName 1 Like

  

I  have always heard the first time isn't as good as you think it is going to be 

ReggiesNoJackpondavre
ReggiesNoJackpondavre moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

  


i always thought it would last longer, and with less blood and pain.

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3 like.author.displayName 1 Like

  

I don't know how you should feel about this either lol 

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3

  

well you just lost your V card then lol 

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3

Fuck ESPN they just gave me a 24 hour ban for no reason what so ever 

ReggiesNoJackpondavre
ReggiesNoJackpondavre moderator like.author.displayName 1 Like

 

welcome to the world.

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3

  

I didn't say anything bad at all thats what I don't understand 

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3 like.author.displayName 1 Like

   

really thats never happened to me flaggers get me all the time lol 

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

  some of us have gotten bans when not even commenting.  Just lurking, looking at comments, and POOF

UNCfan 90 3
UNCfan 90 3 like.author.displayName 1 Like

  

I don't like you anymore lol.


that was my first 24 hour ban  so thats why I'm acting like this lol 

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

Wow.  Flacco's cap hit for 2013 is $7M.  That leaves $113.6M for the other 5 years, an average of almost $23M per year.  No way he sees all that without restructures and such.  

EvilDonkey
EvilDonkey moderator

 restructure is the new black

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

  seriously, everybody's doing it!  

EvilDonkey
EvilDonkey moderator

   He would yell at everyone if they didn't react the way he wanted.

thebaskett
thebaskett

  but only tom brady is a hero for doing it

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

Flacco will make an average of $168,908 each day of the regular season for the next six years.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

hahahahahaha

CBSsports.com "expert" Mike Freeman says Ravens are primed for dynasty.  Say what?  

EvilDonkey
EvilDonkey moderator

 did you mean to say Ravens there?

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

  yes, and it's just as laughable.  The salary cap, combined with single-elimination playoffs, makes it pretty much so there are no dynasties any more.  Sure, teams will be consistently competitive and in the playoffs, but winning enough to count as a dynasty is too hard when teams are fairly evenly matched and the outcome is decided in only one game.

EvilDonkey
EvilDonkey moderator

  Yeah I would agree with you, but the asshats around my town might disagree. The funny thing is for the past couple of years, the Baltimore radio shows were full of fans wanting to get rid of Flacco. 

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

I think it more likely they miss the playoffs next year than win the Super Bowl in Flacco's 6-year contract.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

While I'm here:

Blackhawks 21 straight games with a point.

Duke beats Miami.  Ryan Kelly is back!

Bulls currently beating Brooklyn, but it's a close game.  Rose continues to improve, according to Thibs.

Northwestern men's basketball still sucks.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

Twitterverse: Thewill not bring back Randy Moss which means he now has a chance to be the greatest WR ever to disappoint 6 different teams.

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

"The Texans, Jaguars, Lions, and Browns are the only teams that have never been to the Super Bowl T"


The Lions are the only franchise on that list that's been around since before 1995.  Ouch.  

jwoude23 Bear Down
jwoude23 Bear Down moderator

trending on twitter right now: #thingsImissduringtheoffseason