The NFC North appears to be at a crossroads. Most NFL experts feel that this division is on the decline. I disagree, this could be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL.
Green Bay Packers, 11-5:
The Packers finished the 2019 season with a record of 13-3. Green Bay made it to the NFC Championship before losing to the San Francisco 49ers. The Packers drafted quarterback Jordan Love out of Utah State and running back A.J. Dillion out of Boston College. Both players are listed as 3rd stringers on the depth chart. Aaron Rodgers is going to play this season with a vengeance and that should be a scary thought for the rest of the NFC North. Aaron Jones and Devante Adams are one of the best running back/wide receiver combinations in the NFL. Can Allen Lazard emerge as the No.2 WR?
Defensively, Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith combined for 25.5 sacks last season. Can their No.12 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, Rashan Gary be an every down linebacker? Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos make a formidable duo in the back end of the Packers defense.
This team is good enough to win 11 or 12 games.
Minnesota Vikings, 10-6:
In six seasons as the Vikings head coach, Mike Zimmer has had one losing season and has made the playoffs 3 times. Zimmer is an underrated coach. Last year’s offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski, is now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Gary Kubiak will now take over the play-calling. When healthy, it is hard to find a better running back than Dalvin Cook. He is a dual threat who can break a long run or pass at any time. Stefon Diggs led the team in receptions last season but he has taken his talents to the Buffalo Bills. Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph should be the No.1 options at WR and TE. Look for rookie, Justin Jefferson out of LSU, to have a big 2nd half of the season.
Defensively, left end Danielle Hunter is a rising superstar with 54.5 sacks for his career. He is only 25-years old. Eric Kendricks is one of the best linebackers in the NFL. In 15 games last year, he had 110 tackles. Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris are two of the league’s best safeties.
Minnesota could win 11 or 12 games but their quarterback, Kirk Cousins, is 6-29 against winning teams. When the competition gets better, he has a history or shrinking in the big moment.
Chicago Bears, 8-8:
Matt Nagy’s first year in Chicago was a huge success. His team went 12-4 and won the division. Lat season the Bears took a huge step back, going 8-8. Allen Robinson had 98 catches last season and proved he can be a No.1 WR. The running game was atrocious. David Montgomery averaged 3.7 yards per carry and Tarik Cohen averaged 3.3 yards per attempt. Jimmy Graham from Green Bay is now Chicago’s starting TE but how much does he have left in the tank. Mitchell Trubinsky had 17 touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. How long before the Bears call on Nick Foles to be the starter?
Defensively this is a unit that has talent. Khalil Mack had 8 sacks last season but only 48 tackles. He will need to improve on those numbers if this unit plans to be a top 10 defense. Chuck Pagano took over for Vic Fangio last season and this unit took a huge step back. If they can stay healthy, this defense should be able to dominate and win some games.
Detroit Lions, 7-9:
Matt Patricia finished 6-10 in 2018, last season he compiled a record of 3-12-1. How does he still have a job? Oh, wait it is Detroit, their motto should be… we don’t care, and it shows. Despite being a terrible franchise, the Lions did a good job in the draft getting CB, Jeff Okudah and RB, D’Andre Swift. In 11 years as the starting quarterback, Matt Stafford has 4 winning seasons and he is 0-3 in the playoffs. Kenny Galloday and Marvin Jones Jr. had 20 touchdowns catches between them and Danny Almendola caught 62 balls last season.
Defensively, The Lions finished 26th in scoring defense, tied for 29th in sacks, and tied for the fewest interceptions in the NFL. There are no elite players on this unit.
Patricia has been a disaster, but did we expect anything else from a franchise that has never been to the Super Bowl?
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