Even though I live on the East Coast, the NFC North is usually one of my favorite divisions in the NFL to talk about. This is a division that has been dominated by certain teams throughout the decades.
- In the 1960s, Vince Lombardi’s Packers won two Super Bowls and were the class of the league.
- In the 1970s, the division was dominated by Bud Grant’s “Purple People Eaters”. The Vikings appeared in 4 Super Bowls and won the division 10 times in 11 years.
- In the 1980s, The Bears under Mike Ditka, won 1 Super Bowl and were division champions in 1984,1985,1986,1987 and 1988.
Since that time the Green Bay Packers have been the class of the division. Not surprisingly they have arguable the best quarterback to every play the game in Aaron Rodgers and before that, a Hall of Famer in Brett Favre. Below is the Sports Whisperers prediction for the NFC North…. proceed with caution.
Packers ( Last Season 10-6)… 2017 Prediction, 12-4.
It seems like every year, Green Bay fans want to fire Mike McCarthy. But, the Packers coach has led his team to 8 straight playoff appearances. That is pretty damn impressive.
Despite having a less than stellar defense the Packers won 8 straight games before losing in the NFC Championship to the Atlanta Falcons 44-21. How Aaron Rodgers didn’t win the MVP is beyond me. Rodgers threw for 4,428 yards, had 40 touchdown passes and only 7 interceptions. For his career he has 297 passing touchdowns and only 72 interceptions. Rodgers is ranked #1 in the history of the NFL with a 4.12 touchdown to interception ratio. Tom Brady is second on that list with a 3.0 touchdowns to interception ratio.
The strength of this team is still their offense. Other than a few playmakers on defense, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Clay Mathews the Packers will have to rely on younger players to step up and make this defense tougher. Montravius Adams is a 6’4 305lbs nose tackle that could be an impact player. He played for Auburn in the SEC, so he is used to NFL speed and competition.
Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams form one of the best receiving corps in all of football. Plus, newly signed tight end Martellus Bennett should make a big impact and I look for him to have a “pro bowl like” season. Former WR, now Running Back Ty Montgomery averaged 5.9 yards per carry last year after being pressed into starter duties. The question is at 6’0 215lbs, can he carry the load for 16 games.
The Packers need to start off strong and not have to play every game in the second half of the season like it is a “must win.” If they can get a first-round bye or home field advantage throughout the playoffs, they can play in the Super Bowl. I like Rodgers to win the MVP this season as well. I would take Rodgers over Favre any day, any week, any year and any season.
Minnesota Vikings ( Last Season 8-8)… 2017 prediction, 9-7.
Head Coach Mike Zimmer has done a good job with this team. In three seasons, he has a record of 26-22. But, if the Vikings don’t improve, he may be on the “Hot Seat “at the end of the year.
After QB Teddy Bridgewater suffered a season-ending injury in the 2016 pre-season, the Vikings acquired Sam Bradford to replace him. MN started off the season 5-0 under Bradford but as predicted by The Sports Whisperer, after their great start, they didn’t make the playoffs. The went 3-8 in their last 11 games. If Bradford is the starting quarterback for the entire season than the Vikings will be average. If Chip Kelly could’t make Bradford a legitimate starter no one can. I liked the fact that Minnesota has gone away from Adrian Peterson and drafted Florida State Running Back Delvin Cook. In just 13 games, WR Stefon Diggs, had 84 receptions. TE Kyle Rudolph had 83 receptions and 7 touchdowns. He continues to be one of the most consistent TE’s in the game.
The strength of this team continues to be their defense with shutdown corner Xavier Rhodes and free safety Harrison Smith. With Cook (21 years old), Diggs (23 years old), Rudolph (27 years old,) and a healthy Bridgewater (24 years old). The Vikings could develop into a very good offense to match their defense. This is all predicated on Bridgwater’s health and growth as QB. If that happens, they can be a tough out in the playoffs. That is a big IF though.
Detroit Lions (Last season 9-7)… 2017 prediction, 7-9.
To this day I am utterly amazed how Lions Head Coach Jim Caldwell has a job in the NFL. From 1993-2000 Caldwell was the head coach at Wake Forest University. In the weak ACC, he compiled a record of 23-63, 12-53 in conference play and had 1 winning season where his team went 7-5. After Tony Dungy retired Caldwell was promoted to head coach for the Indianapolis Colts. In his first year they went to the Super Bowl where he was outcoached and Indy lost to the New Orleans Saints, 31-17. The Colts then went 10-6 and 2-14 before he was fired. In his 1st season as the Lions coach, Detroit went 11-5, followed by 7-9 and 9-7.
Some folks in the media think Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback, I am not one of them. Elite quarterbacks win big games. Stafford never has. In three playoff games he has 4 touchdowns 3 interceptions, two lost fumbles, a passer rating of 87.8 and a record of 0-3. Other than Golden Tate is anyone on the Lions offense that scares defenses? They have some good players but no one on their roster would keep defensive coordinators up at night. Tate had 91 receptions last year but only 4 touchdowns. TE Eric Ebron had 61 catches but only 1 touchdown. Ameer Abdullah their featured back rushed for only 597 yards in 2016. On the positive side, I like the fact that they drafted LB, Jarrad Davis from Florida. If healthy, he can help a linebacker group that is desperate for a leader.
As long as Caldwell coaches this team, they will continually erode over time.
Chicago Bears (Last season 3-13)…2017 prediction 3-13.
John Fox enters his 3rd season as Chicago’s head coach. He has a combined record with the Bears of 9-23. His career record as a head coach is 128-112. Some broadcasters and coaches think Fox is a great coach, I am not one of those people. To paraphrase Morgan Freeman in the movie Million Dollar Baby, “The thing is, if you want to win the title maybe he’s (John Fox) is not the one to take you there.” Quarterback Mike Glennon was signed away from Tampa Bay to mentor former North Carolina QB, rookie, Mitch Trubinsky. This is a rebuilding year for the bears. WR Kevin White when healthy can be a game breaker and Jordan Howard rushed for over 1,300 yards last season. My guess is Fox will be fired by the end of the season.
Packers should get to the Super Bowl and the Vikings could compete for a playoff spot if the team is health.
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