When you look at the NFC North you can really summarize the elite teams from each decade.
- In the 1960’s, the Packers were led by head coach Vince Lombardi.
- In the 1970’s, the Minnesota Vikings won the division 9 times in 11 years.
- The 1980s had the Chicago Bears, who wore the crown 6 out of 7 years from 1983-1990.
- Last season, the Vikings won the league with a 11-5 record.
- Over the past two years I have predicted 13 out of 16 division winners. Below is my preview for the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers (Projected Record 12-4): If you watched the playoffs last year, Quarterback Aaron Rodgers carried the team with practice squad receivers and no running game. The Packers lost to the Arizona Cardinals in overtime but it was one of the most courageous performance I have ever seen on the football field. Rodgers almost single-handedly willed his team to victory. The Packers have made the playoffs for 7 straight seasons and have won the division 4 out of the last 5 years. Their defense is not what I would consider to be elite, but if they can keep opposing offenses to 3rd and long situations, pass rushers, like Clay Mathews, could wreak havoc.
This team will go as far as their offense carries them. Rodgers is getting a healthy Jordy Nelson back and that should make a world of difference. When healthy, Nelson is one of the most productive receivers in all of football. In 2014, Nelson had 98 receptions, 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Packers have a “Chip” on their shoulder and they are coming into camp with an attitude. Running Back Eddie Lacy, spent this off-season training with P90X founder Tony Horton and appears to be in the best shape of his career. Rodgers is the most skilled quarterback I have ever seen play football. But, by his own standards he is coming off a very disappointing year. He had 31 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions but his completion percentage was 60.7 and his passer rating of 92.7 was the lowest since 2008. I like the Packers to make it to the Super Bowl and Rodgers to be in the MVP race all year-long. They should dominate this division once again.
Minnesota Vikings (Project Record 10-6): Mike Zimmer has taken this team from a dysfunctional bunch and brought a hard nose, no-nonsense, professional approach to this team. The Vikings have the hardest schedule out of anyone in their division. Their opponents have a combined winning percentage of .488. The Vikings need to drastically improve on an offense that finished 16th in points and 29th in total yards. QB Teddy Bridgewater has got to make more plays on offense. In two years he has only thrown for 28 touchdown passes. Rookie WR Laquon Treadwell (out of Ole Miss) should help take the pressure off Bridgewater and RB, Adrian Peterson. I like the Vikings to contend for a wild card this year.
Chicago Bears (project Record 8-8): The “Monsters of the Midway” haven’t made the playoffs in 8 out of the last 9 years. What was once considered a great NFL Franchise has fallen by the wayside over the past decade. Head coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace have brought in 9 free agents and have drafted 9 players this off-season. They are clearly trying to change the mentality and philosophy of this organization. Last Year’s offensive coordinator Adam Gase, left to become the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins has been replaced by Dowell Loggains. QB, Jay Cutler had one of his better seasons in 2015. He had 21 TD’s,11 interceptions and a passer rating of 92.3. Kevin White and Alshon Jeffery should provide great numbers at the wide receiver position. The defense should be better but in a vertical passing league their secondary is still a huge question mark. I built up a reputation as calling it, like I see it. Fox is exactly like former NFL coach Marty Schottenheimer. He will take your team that is in disarray and make them into a professional,solid team. But, make no mistake about it. The Bears will never win a Super Bowl with Cutler and Fox running their offense. Sorry Bears fans. Go Cubs 🙂
Detroit Lions (Project Record 6-10): There is no way to sugarcoat this. When Jim Caldwell got hired, I wrote, “It was a colossal mistake.” Everywhere Caldwell has coached his teams get worse over time. In 8 years as the Wake Forrest coach, Caldwell had 1 winning season. In 1999 his team went 7-5. In a sub-par college football division… The ACC, he had a combined record of 26-63 and his conference record was 12-52. His first season with the Colts he went 14-2 and with the help of Peyton Manning his team went to the Super Bowl. The following year they regressed to 10-6 and in his 3rd season they went 2-14. No matter who Detroit brings in personnel wise, they are never going to reach their potential under Caldwell. New General Manger Bob Quinn, who spent over 15 years with the Patriots,will have to form this team in his image. He should have fired Caldwell but he didn’t.
According to NFL.Com the Packers have the easiest schedule out of any team in this division. As good as the Packers are year to year, the Lions are as bad. Detroit hasn’t won a division title since 1993.
Some betting odds for you.
Take the Packers over 11 games
Take the Vikings over 9 games
Take the Bears under 8 games
Take the Lions under 7 games
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