By Vincent Pensabene
Welcome back to day two of the divisional breakdown for the NFL! Today we will be discussing the NFC North, which produced one of the NFC Championship Game teams in the Minnesota Vikings and one of the best quarterbacks of our generation in Green Bay. This division is definitely a two-team race but I think there are a few reasons why the gap exists.
Green Bay Packers (12-4)
A lot is being made of Aaron Rodgers calling out his receiving core during training camp. However, there are three things I like about the Packers this year: 1) They have the best quarterback in the division and arguably in the conference. 2) They have the best red zone threat in the division in Jimmy Graham. 3) Home field advantage playing in Lambeau Field where teams have difficulty adjusting. The question marks surrounding the other three teams in the division make Green Bay the obvious divisional winner.
Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
Minnesota is a team I really liked in years past. However, Kirk Cousins was extremely overpaid for mediocrity in Washington, which forced their hand. I would’ve loved to see Teddy Bridgewater get a second chance to stand under center for them. Also, their offensive line has issues with injury and the unfortunate sudden death of their offensive line coach Tony Sparano, which is a huge blow to any team, let alone a shaken up offensive line. I love the receiving core centered around Thielen and Diggs so if Cousins can get enough time in the pocket and their defense continues to play at the level they should, the Vikings have a chance to be in Wild Card contention.
Chicago Bears (5-11)
Chicago is one of two teams (I will get to the other soon) that I think doesn’t have a good-to-great quarterback or quarterback prospect in the NFL right now. They just signed their first round pick Roquan Smith a few days ago after a holdout so he doesn’t have a full training camp to adjust to the speed of the league. They have a tough end of the year with their last five games being at Giants, vs Rams, vs Packers, at 49ers, and at Vikings. Mitchell Trubisky could take the next step this season, but barring any significant injuries by any other divisional foe, they are closer to the bottom of the division than the top.
Detroit Lions (4-12)
Hear me out on this one before you get upset and think I don’t know football at all. I understand they went 9-7 last season but look at their schedule. The Lions have a tough road schedule going to San Francisco, Dallas, Green Bay, and Minnesota. They also host the Panthers, Rams, Patriots, Vikings, and Packers. They didn’t really improve much this offseason. I also have not been a huge Stafford guy. Feels like he throws empty stats but has the ability to make games close, but not carry the Lions over the hump. Sorry Detroit, but get the scouts ready for Nick Bosa on Draft Day.