NFC North Preview

The NFC North isn’t a surprise to many people. The division is more about superstars and how they compete. The Bears look to rebuild while the Packers and Vikings will have good postseason runs ahead. The Lions on the other hand could enter rebuilding mode after this season. Let’s go inside the NFC North.

Green Bay Packers
2012 Record: 11-5
2013 Prediction: 11-5
Team MVP: Aaron Rodgers
The Pack is still the Pack without Greg Jennings. The wide receiver position will be interesting this season. Despite losing Jennings, Jordy Nelson is really going to step up. You can maybe expect 5-6 catches a game from Nelson. Offensive coordinator Tom Clements has worked all through training camp to ensure that the offense is still a force to be reckoned with in the air. The one player that will surprise many on the Packers is receiver and return man Randall Cobb. Cobb has mainly been a return man, but he’s been developing as a wide out. Within Coach McCarthy’s west coast system we usually see a lot of slant routes which are perfect for Cobb’s speed. Expect the Packers to take the NFC north again this year. Also expect rookie Eddie Lacy to get in on the run game to make the Packers a huge force.

Minnesota Vikings
2012 Record: 10-6
2013 Prediction: 10-6
Team MVP: Adrian Peterson
While the Vikings are expected to be more of a threat down the home stretch, not much will change. Despite the loss of Percy Harvin being filled by Greg Jennings, the Vikings still have their flaws. Christian Ponder needs to be consistent. He should have more options as well, thanks to the newly acquired Jerome Simpson and tight end Kyle Rudolph (pro bowl MVP). Ponder has a strong arm, but can’t read defenses. That shouldn’t be a huge problem due to the man in the backfield. Did I mention his name was Adrian Peterson?
AP should be able to break the record this year. He was nine yards short of the record last year but he was behind a young offensive line. A good running back always has to have a good line. Charlie Johnson, John Sullivan, and Matt Kalil all have a little more experience under their belt. The Vikings don’t necessarily have to throw the ball the whole time either. A good mix of run and pass sends the Vikings to the playoffs.

Chicago Bears
2012 Record: 10-6
2013 Record: 8-8
Team MVP: Jay Cutler
While the Bears believe new head coach Marc Trestman will make a difference in Jay Cutler, I see some gaps. The last NFL quarterback Trestman worked with was AJ Feeley in Miami. Trestman hasn’t been in the league since 2005. A lot has changed in the NFL since 2005. The quarterbacks now need a lot more than just reading defenses, accuracy, and a good arm. The Bears still have a good running back in Matt Forte so they will be able to run the ball. Mostly for me, everything about the Bears is on the rebuilding block.
The one interesting point about the Bears is their coaching staff will oddly enough be interesting to watch. Par-time interim Saints coach Aaron Kromer is now the offensive coordinator. Clearly the organization is focused on Cutler. His percentage last year was near sixty percent. Clearly they want to boost Cutler to a high level. As for me, Chicago stays out at 8-8.

Detroit Lions
2012 Record: 4-12
2013 Projection: 5-11
Team MVP: Matt Stafford
The Lions still have offense, and plenty of it. Reggie Bush shouldn’t have a bad year. You can expect a lot from him after a decent season last year with Miami. The Lions have never had a solid running back since Barry Sanders. Maybe Bush is the answer. I still see them being a passing team though. Nate Burrelson and Calvin Johnson are still great downfield threats, and Stafford is an excellent quarterback who has a lot of potential still in front of him. Defense holds the Lions back. Ndamukong Suh and Stephen Tulloch will anchor the defense. Tulloch is a very small guy but has excellent agility that allows him to make consistent tackles. Coach Jim Schwartz needs more defense though.

Division Awards:
NFC North MVP: Aaron Rodgers
NFC North Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson
NFC North Defensive Player of the Year: Clay Matthews
NFC North Rookie of the Year: Eddie Lacy

Bold Prediction: Jim Schwartz is fired at season’s end. Too many missed chances, and too inconsistent. A little odd, but he’s gone for me.

The NFC North isn’t too competitive. However, the division is always up in the air. Teams will fight back and forth in division play. Expect the Packers and Vikings to have some good meetings.

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