Welcome back, this weeks preview has us in the black and blue division with the NFC North. The Vikings took home the NFC crown last year and they are looking to build on that after making some moves in the off-season after bringing in more talent. The Packers are always in discussion for winning the division with Aaron Rodgers under center. He is returning from an injury that ended his season early last year. The Lions have a stud of their own with Matthew Stafford while the Bears are hoping Mitch Trubisky can make a tremendous jump in year two under Coach Nagy. Let’s look and see what the NFC North has to offer.
The Vikings boast one of the stingier defenses in the NFL. Last season, Minnesota gave up a league-leading 15.8 points per game according to NFL.com. It is pretty tough to score against this unit that also was 10th in scoring as well. Coach Mike Zimmer really has his guys rolling and they’re continuing to add depth and talent to their roster. This off-season, the Vikings went out and acquired Kirk Cousins from the Washington Redskins. With the Vikings not losing a lot from their roster from last season, they should be the favorites to repeat as division champs but a QB out in Wisconsin might have other plans.
Notable additions: QB Kirk Cousins, DT Sheldon Richardson
Notable losses: QB Case Keenum, QB Teddy Bridgewater, QB Sam Bradford, RB Jerick McKinnon
Green Bay Packers
Before going down with an injury against the Vikings in week 6 of last season, things may have gone a bit different in the division. The Packers struggled when Rodgers wasn’t in the lineup but he is ready to go and looking for revenge. Though, without his favorite target Jordy Nelson, Rodgers should still be one the best in terms of production in the passing game. The Packers must find a run game to compliment him which would make the Packers even scarier to defend.
Notable additions: DE Muhammed Wilkerson, TE Jimmy Graham, QB Deshone Kizer
Notable losses: WR Jordy Nelson, CB Sam Shields, SS Morgan Burnett
The Lions finished last season with nine wins and hope to build on that total this season. Matthew Stafford had a fine year passing for over 4,000 yards and finishing one shy of 30 touchdowns. The biggest need from the Lions is a serviceable run game. According to Pro Football reference, Detroit’s passing yards accounted for 77% of their total offense last season which is a pretty high number. The selection of Kerryon Johnson in the draft and signing of LeGarrette Blount should raise the production in the run game and help keep pressure off of Stafford.
Notable Additions: RB LeGerrette Blount, TE Luke Willson, RB Kerryon Johnson
Notable Losses: CB DJ Hayden, TE Eric Ebron, LB Tahir Whitehead
The Chicago Bears were horrible last season. Much of that was on the Coaching staff and some due to lack of viable weapons. This season, they should see in an improvement. Coach Matt Nagy was brought in to be the guy to develop Quarterback Mitch Trubisky and take him and the Bears to new heights offensively. Chicago was very active in free agency with Trubisky in mind as they brought in a plethora of skill position players. The lone bright spot was the defense which ranked 9th in points allowed per game. Vic Fangio was brought back and will have some consistency to build on with much of the core returning. The one area of concern for the Bears defense though will be their pass rush. According to Pro Football Focus, the Bears came in ranked 30th in pass rush. Leonard Floyd has shown flashes of being a skilled pass rusher but outside of him, no other players at the outside linebacker position has been a consistent threat. Someone will need to emerge in the pass rush for the Bears other than Floyd.
Notable additions: LB Aaron Lynch, WR Taylor Gabriel, WR Allen Robinson, TE Trey Burton
Notable Losses: WR Cameron Meredith, LB Pernell McPhee, G Josh Sitton, DE Mitch Unrein