Much different from the other divisions mentioned thus far, the NFC North is actually a close contest all around the board. No team in the NFC North is mediocre, so expect some solid games to happen from these teams.
In last place we have the Detroit Lions, sitting at 7 – 9. Detroit is in a weird spot. They’re not good enough to make a real splash in the league, but they’re not bad enough to clean house. So what do you do? Pray for some luck, I suppose. Detroit has a huge hole to fill on offense; no Calvin Johnson will hurt them tremendously. I expect Golden Tate to be a solid #1 option for the Lions, but I think it’s very clear he’s not a true star wide out. The real piece of this team to watch out with is the secondary on defense, elite guys like Darius Slay and Glover Quinn make it tough to successfully throw the ball around. The Lions are going to have a tough time in the division, as I only have them scooping up one home win against Chicago (losing the other 5 division games).
Right after the Lions are the Chicago Bears at 8-8. I think this Bears squad will hurt without Adam Gase at offensive coordinator, but the next step in what was completely cleaning house should move in the right direction. I’m not high on John Fox as a head coach, and I’ll never be high on Jay Cutler as a Quarterback, but there’s a lot of solid talent on this team. The true test lies with the team’s defense; will they finally be able to take the next step towards being a respectable defense? For any Bears fans out there, the highlight of your season will be sneaking away with both wins against the Pack, something every NFC North team dreams of every year.
Unable to be repeat as division champs, the Minnesota Vikings fall short of first with a record of 10 – 6. Those who follow my “football thinking” know that I have an incredible amount of faith in the young Minnesota Vikings. Last year I had them winning the division, and I took a lot of heat for it on WSKB Radio. Yet, look who walked away correctly (this guy!) The Vikings need to take a step forward to become a serious contender, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen this year. Truthfully, it’s all about whether or not Teddy Bridgewater can move forward and at least show flashes of elite-ness. Last year Teddy worked on playing smart by utilizing quick and short passes while working on decision-making and ball security. For a young quarterback, that’s a great thing for a player to learn. Still, you can’t be a great team when all you can do is the dink-and-dunk, Teddy’s going to have to be able to take some risks and make some big plays if the Vikings want to become elite. They WILL be an elite team, there’s too much homegrown talent around the roster for last year to be a flash-in-the-pan, but the timing isn’t right yet.
Why is the timing off for the Vikes? Well, the Packers will be a healthy squad again, ending the season in first at 11 – 5. Last year was strange for Green Bay; they looked like an unexplainably weak team for the first time in a long time. With Jordy Nelson back, Aaron Rodgers has his favorite guy to throw to, and I see them picking up right where they left off. Further, I think Eddy Lacy will go back to being a great running back in this league (all signs point to it, Google his offseason work thus far if you don’t believe me). As much as I have immense love for the Minnesota squad, even I have to admit I don’t see Green Bay slipping from first place two years in a row.
Next week is the fan favorite NFC East. Until then, keep reading the wonderful content my colleagues are putting out there.