The last two years haven’t been according to plan for the Green Bay Packers. Injuries, poor play, and coaching issues, etc. have been an issue. This year though, in one of the toughest divisions, I expect the Packers to rule the NFC North. Here are my predictions on how the NFC North could shape for the 2019-2020 season.
1st – Green Bay Packers (11-5)
The Packers made a lot of moves in the offseason that is going to pay off. They got rushers in Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, and Rashan Gary, they got safety help in Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage and they got Aaron Rodgers protection with offensive linemen Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins. The Packers are shaping themselves up well and would be interesting to see what new head coach, Matt LaFleur, can do to reidentify the offense. Another thing that is going to benefit the Packers is a third-place schedule, meaning, instead of playing the New Orleans Saints and the Los Angeles Rams like the Chicago Bears do, the Packers will play the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers, two teams who should struggle again. The only issue for the Packers is they need the receiving core to stay healthy and the obvious is Rodgers needs to stay healthy, but other than that the Packers should easily reclaim their dominance in the North.
2nd – Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
Last year for the Vikings was tough. A team that has high hopes didn’t come close to those expectations, but for next year I think they can come very close or even achieve them. The Vikings big issue last year was the offensive line as they saw a lot of lineman rotations and injuries. They addressed those issues in the NFL draft and they managed to keep a strong defense in the offseason. Yes, we can talk about how Cousins isn’t a big-time player and I can somewhat agree with that, but the Vikings get a full season with Kevin Stefanski as the offensive coordinator, which I think could be a guy to watch out as a head coach candidate either next offseason or after that. Dalvin Cook is really going to benefit in this new offense for the Vikings and perhaps can have that break-out season. I like the Vikings this year to be a tough team and slide in as a wild-card team.
3rd – Chicago Bears (8-8)
I can’t wait to hear the Bears fans slander for this. The fact of the matter is the Bears have a very tough schedule this year. They are facing off against six playoff teams in which I don’t think they can handle any of them. I think out of those six teams, they could beat the Dallas Cowboys, simply because of that Chicago weather benefiting that game. The real reason for the Bears taking a step-back is that Mitch Trubisky isn’t really good. Trubisky was a 2017 Blake Bortles, but with better mobility. Also, the Bears remind me of the Jacksonville Jaguars as they looked amazing going to the AFC Championship, but the next year they were awful. I think the Bears will take that same approach, as the Bears defense is good still, but they will without a doubt, take a step back (just like any great defense does). They lost Amos, Bryce Callahan and the defensive mastermind, Vic Fangio, which is a blow, even though they signed HaHa Clinton-Dix, they’ll release the signing wasn’t all too great. Ultimately, the Bears will take a step back this year unless the quarterback play steps up.
4th – Detroit Lions (7-9)
The Lions did make moves in the offseason getting Trey Flowers and T.J. Hockenson, but I don’t think they are anything special. The offense doesn’t jump out at me and the defense doesn’t compare to the rest of the NFC North, but they have good players like Flowers, Darius Slay, Damon Harrison, and Justin Coleman, but four players don’t make a good defense by themselves. I think for the Lions if they weren’t in the North, they could possibly be thriving in other divisions. A reason why the offense doesn’t jump out is that the roster is based off mediocrity. Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Kerryon Johnson, Jesse James, Danny Amendola, and C.J. Anderson aren’t exactly dangerous. The Lions will be a game better from last year, but it’s going to be a tough season.
The NFC North is going to be a fun and exciting division to watch next year. The competitiveness between the four teams is going to keep all fans on the edge of their seat, but only one winner can be crowned, and I think that will be the Green Bay Packers. After a two years absence from winning the North and making the playoffs, the Packers will be back on top and should be a year that ends up being special.