NFL Playoff Picture 2011: Packers And Then Everyone Else In NFC North

Written by SB Nation's Ryan Van Bibber.

After their Super Bowl win, many noted that the Green Bay Packers were built to make a run at the title every year for a long time. That's proven to be more than talk radio fodder as Aaron Rodgers and the Packers have jumped out to a 7-0 start. They look mostly unstoppable. Detroit thinks otherwise, and a Thanksgiving Day matchup between the two teams has all the makings for an instant classic. Chicago is technically alive in the division race, four games behind Green Bay and two behind the Lions, their week 10 opponent. Meanwhile, Minnesota rebuilds, but rookie quarterback Christian Ponder and all-world running back Adrian Peterson are more than capable of playing the spoiler. 

Here's how the NFC North looks through eight weeks:

1. Green Bay, 7-0

2. Detroit, 6-2

3. Chicago, 4-3

4. Minnesota, 2-6

Detroit can definitely give Green Bay chase. If Matt Stafford can stay healthy, they should have a wild card ticket to the postseason for the first time since 1999. 

Chicago will be fighting for a wild card of their own, but the first half of the season has exposed serious flaws with this team. Clubhouse distractions simmer beneath the surface too. Over their next three games, they play Philadelphia, Detroit and San Diego, leaving them no margin for error. 

Minnesota will have to wait for next year. 

Predicted Division Winner: Green Bay is the class of the NFC, and nothing short of an extreme circumstance is likely to change that. Even if they do end up dropping a game or two, Aaron Rodgers and Co. can plan on watching the first round of the playoffs from the comfort of home. 

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