NFL Predictions: NFC North

The NFC in general is going to be a tight race, but the NFC North is going to be close between 3 of the 4 teams. Even so, I see 2 NFC North teams making it to the playoffs this year, while one will be on the bubble. With the new playoff format this year, it’s going to be even more crucial for teams across the league to win as many games as possible, as only the number 1 seed overall will receive a bye week in the post season.

The Vikings traded away superstar WR, Stefon Diggs, but the front office did a great job maintaining the strengths of this franchise. The Packers likely are weaker from a year ago, but you can never count them out when Aaron Rodgers is under Center. Chicago (Da Bears) has a solid team throughout, however, their QB situation is questionable at best. Meanwhile in Detroit, the Lions made some nice acquisitions this offseason, but is it enough for them to make a playoff push?

King of the North

Minnesota Vikings

For the 2020 season, I have the Minnesota Vikings winning the NFC North (SKOL). Most people still have Green Bay as the team to beat, which they are. But considering what these team’s rosters looks like on paper, the Vikings are my favorite to win the North. Vegas has Minnesota winning 9 games this coming season.

Minnesota will be one of the best rushing offenses next year, as Dalvin Cook should continue his high level of play. Also add in Alexander Mattison who should be gaining some attention as well, which gives the Vikings a solid duo in the backfield. The Vikings may be a bit run heavy this year after trading away Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills, however, the front office drafted rookie WR Justin Jefferson, who should be a great compliment to Adam Thielen. Kirk Cousins is not a top premiere QB in the league, but he’s talented enough, and has proven himself worthy of the role he’s in. They also have an underrated offensive line, which will help the Vikings surprise numerous teams next year. This may not be the most potent offense in the league, but they’re disciplined and hungry to take the crown away from Green Bay.

The Vikings Defense is really where the strength lies with this organization. It’s a tough defense with a ton of talent throughout. Anthony Barr and Harrison Smith lead the way, as both players offer veteran leadership that every team is looking for. The front office let CB Xavier Rhodes go during the free agency period, but they replaced him with Jeff Gladney in the 1st round. This kid has a ton of talent, and has potential to make an immediate impact for this squad. Minnesota has a lot of young players in the secondary this year, which means they may give up more passing yards than they’d like, but overall, this defense is very capable of getting after the QB and stopping the run. All I can say, is good luck when you face the Vikings, you’re going to need it.

Although I have the Vikings winning the NFC North, I don’t think they’ll be winning that ultra important 1 seed in the playoffs. They have a legitimate chance to win the 3 seed, which would give them home field advantage during Wild Card Weekend.

Green Bay Packers

I have the Pack-Attack finishing 2nd place in the NFC North for 1 simple reason… Aaron Rodgers. Vegas has Green Bay also winning 9 games like the Vikings, so there’s a chance they win the North. However, when it comes down to it, the Vikings have a better roster, while the Packers success rests on Aaron Rodgers shoulders.

The offense may struggle out of the gate as they lost long time Tackle, Bryan Bulaga in free agency. The front office also didn’t do much to acquire new talent at the WR position (not like that’s ever stopped Rodgers before). The front office signed WR Devin Funchess, who is a big bodied receiver who has played under his potential since joining the league in 2015. Rodgers still has Devante Adams to throw to, and should be a top WR in the league again as long as he remains healthy. Aaron Rodgers recently was asked about the Packers’ WR group, and he mentioned Allen Lazard (Insert Snoop Dogg GIF “WHO!?” here) as a potential guy to step up big for Green Bay. Despite the woes of the O-line and WR group, Aaron Jones is still the RB, and is poised to have another big year. The team also drafted rookie RB AJ Dillion, who will provide strength in the red zone and short down conversions. So, despite the lack of talent on the offensive roster, Aaron Rodgers will likely keep his team competitive throughout the season.

The Packers lost their star ILB, Blake Martinez in the free agent market, and really… that was it defensively. Losing Martinez is going to hurt, as the guy led this team in tackles the last 3 years, and has been a huge run stopper for this squad. I was really hoping the front office was going to try and acquire some big DTs to add to the D-line, but they didn’t do that. So between losing Martinez, and still having a small D-line, it’s going to be difficult for the Packers to stop the run game next year. The secondary is without a doubt the strongest part of this defense though. The secondary unit is led by CBs Jaire Alexander and Kevin King, who both balled out last year and look to continue that dominance. They also have a great Safety group in Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. This Packers defense is going to be tough to beat if you decide to throw the ball on them, and may finish the season as one of the top secondaries in the league.

Overall, the Green Bay Packers regressed, but thankfully it’s not by much. They only have a potential 3 new starters on the roster this year, and they also had no significant changes to the coaching staff. With all of the drama concerning the QB situation, Aaron Rodgers is still the face of the franchise. So put the Jordan Love talks to rest (at least for this year) as I see the Packers making the post season as a 7 seed.

Chicago Bears

DAAAAAAA Bears have an incredibly talented team as they head into 2020, and will likely be slept on due to their under performance from last year. Chicago will make improvements from 2019, but I don’t think it will be enough for them to make the playoffs. However, Vegas has the Bears winning 8 games this season, which goes to show you how potentially close this NFC North division is going to be.

The offense has its strengths and weaknesses, and a team is only as strong as its weakest link. First, I really love their 1-2 punch at the RB position. Tarik Cohen and David Montgomery have the potential to be a fantastic dual threat combo that will be tough to stop. Additionally, they have an above average WR group that’s led by Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller, and don’t forget about Cordarrelle Patterson and Ted Ginn Jr. who bring some serious speed and veteran presence to this young WR group. However, with the good, comes the bad. This roster has like 100 Tight Ends on the team, and none of them really pose a serious threat in the passing game. Most of these TEs are better at blocking than anything else, which will be huge for the run game. Lastly, this QB situation in Chicago is weighing this team down, as both Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles are very questionable options. Trubisky has shown in spurts that he is capable of leading a team to victory, but it hasn’t happened enough times for anybody to feel comfortable with him under Center. Nick Foles is a QB the Bears acquired via a trade during this offseason, and is similar to Trubisky. Foles helped lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl win, but since then, he’s basically been asleep at the wheel. Dealing with injuries, and being outplayed by a guy who wears jean shorts (Gardner Minshew, Mr. Mustache himself). Considering the lack of talent at the TE and QB positions, and the very average O-line, I just don’t see the Bears scoring a whole lot next year. But who knows? Maybe one of these QBs figures it out, which would make the Bears a scary opponent for any team in the league.

The defense is a completely different story. Khalil Mack is one of the best pass rushers in the league, and is arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. He’s one of the few players I’ve seen literally win games by himself, which is extremely rare in football. This defense is loaded with top talent. On the D-line, DT Akiem Hicks, and OLBs Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn will look to stop the run and rush the QB consistently. The LB group shouldn’t be ignored either, as ILBs Danny Trevathan and Roquan Smith are extremely good at their jobs. Also throw in Eddie Jackson and Kyle fuller into their secondary… The Bears defense will make some noise this year, roaring at their opponents throughout the season… You know, like a real bear.

The defense is going to keep the Bears in most of their games, but I don’t see the offense being capable enough to win those tight games. This team should show a ton of improvements from last year, but it’s not going to be enough for them to make it to the post season. They have potential to be one of those “in the hunt” teams this year.

Detroit Lions

I almost feel bad for Lions fans across the nation, as this team’s front office just always seems to miss out on making the right decisions. I have this team finishing 4th in the NFC North and ultimatly missing the playoffs. Vegas agrees, as the betting odds say Detroit only wins 6-7 games next year, which is one of the worst in the league.

Offense is the strongest point of the Lions team, as Matt Stafford retains his starting position for another year. He’s a top 10 QB in the league, despite whatever opinions you have of him, and he has great players to throw to. Kenny Golladay emerged last year as one of the top WRs in the league, and looks to improve even more. He’s paired up with Marvin Jones, who has been a solid WR2 on this Detroit offense. Additionally, TJ Hockenson finished 2020 with a little hot streak at the TE position. Detroit made a great draft selection this year after taking RB D’Andre Swift to pair up with Kerryon Johnson. I really like both RBs, but doesn’t it always seem like Lions RBs under perform? Kerryon Johnson was given the ball a bunch in 2019, and just never did anything with it. D’Andre Swift has a legit chance to become the starter for this team, but the offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL. So despite having some nice talent on the offense, this piss-poor O-line will knock the Lions down quite a few notches.

The Lions defense is mediocre at best. Truthfully, they have the worst D-line in the entire league, especially after letting Damon “Snacks” Harrison go. The LB group is nothing to really write home about either, which means opponents should be gashing the Lions defense through the run game. Detroit has some hope though, as they signed CB Desmond Trufant and drafted rookie CB Jeff Okudah. These two CBs should play rather well, and make some nice plays for this team overall. But don’t get your hopes up too high, Lions fans, as these 2 guys won’t be enough to make this team competitive.

Overall, the Lions will likely finish 2020 with one of the worst records in the league. I was really excited for this team when they signed Matt Patricia as the Head Coach, but since his arrival, the team has somehow gotten worse, and Patricia is clearly on the hot seat. The Lions are in rebuild mode, and depending on if Matt Patricia is fired or not, this franchise may stay in rebuild mode longer than fans are hoping for.

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