Packers still class of NFC North

While Bears have closed talent gap, evaluators still rate rivals higher

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There is little doubt that, on paper, the Bears have a highly talented team.

But how does their talent stack up against their competition?

With that in mind, the Tribune asked five personnel evaluators from different teams who have studied the NFC North to rate the division position by position.

In their professional opinions, the Packers clearly are still the class of the division. The Bears have the second best team, barely, over the Lions.

"It's going to be a real good division," one player personnel director said.

Four were given for a position group that was best in the division; three for second best; two for third best and one point for worst.

Here is how each team ranked at each position.

Quarterbacks

1. Packers (20); 2. Bears (13); 3. Lions (12); 4. Vikings (5);

Each of the five personnel men thought the Packers had the best quarterback, but they were split on who was second best. Three of them chose the Bears' Jay Cutler and two picked the Lions' Matthew Stafford.

Some of the pro-Cutler comments:

•"Stafford is gaining on Cutler, but Cutler gets the benefit of the doubt because he has done it more years in a row."

•"Stafford has Megatron (Calvin Johnson) to throw to, and just has to get it out to him. Cutler has had to make smart decisions and accurate throws on a consistent basis. He hasn't had the dominant receiving weapons until now."

And some pro-Stafford comments:

•"They are equally athletic in terms of escaping pressure, but Stafford is more accurate, and he has gotten it done without a running game."

•"Stafford won't make as many bad decisions."

Running backs

1. Vikings (20); 2. Bears (15); 3. Lions (9); 4. Packers (6).

The personnel men voted as if Adrian Peterson, who is coming off a knee injury, will be healthy and as capable as ever. Each of them had the Vikings best and the Bears second best. The only question was if the Lions or Packers are third.

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