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NFL Preview 2018: The NFC North

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If you’re a part of the NFC North, we all know you’re not used to change. It’s been the same two teams fighting it out for the championship since 2010. The Chicago Bears won it in 2010 and you can only guess when the last time the Detroit Lions won. If you guessed 2000, you’re wrong. The last time the Lions prevailed as champs was in 1993. The Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers have spoiled themselves winning 13 out the past 16 NFC North Championships

So why not start on my team that will finish last in the NFC North:

The Chicago Bears.

The Bears are beginning the 2018 season with a new head coach in Matt Nagy. Many are hoping he will be the next Sean McVay but odds are not in Nagy’s favor. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky finished last season with a 77.5 passer rating, seven interceptions and seven touchdowns in 12 starts. I’m only going to assume Trubisky will have a better season than his rookie campaign.

The Bears added help on the offense this offseason for Trubisky. They added the talents of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Trey Burton in the passing game. Not to mention, he does have some talent in the backfield with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. However, I’m not confident in this offense.

Not having any pro bowlers on the defense didn’t stop them from finishing top 10 in total defense last year. It’s clear that Akeem Hicks is the best player on this defense leading his team to 15.5 sacks in the past two seasons. First rounder Roquan Smith should be a good pair with linebacker Danny Trevathan.

The Bears were able to hold onto key pieces for their defense in corners Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara. The biggest problem for the defense will be the turnover ratio. They only produced eight interceptions last year, third to last in the league.

Third place:

The Detroit Lions.

The Lions will also begin the season with a new head coach in Matt Patricia. Patricia is coming in with a defensive mind after being the defensive coordinator for the Patriots for seven years.

Not much has gone right for the Lions offense except one thing, consistency from QB Matt Stafford. He carries a streak of 112 straight starts, third among active quarterbacks.

A must fix this year will be the running game as they ranked 32nd and it starts with the line. It’s unclear how the offensive line will work out this year given the constant injuries. The Lions added LeGarrette Blount and rookie Kerryon Johnson to help with the backfield of Theo Riddick and Ameer Abdullah.

The receiving core is the strong point for this offense with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, and Kenny Golladay. Adding tight end Luke Willson should be a reliable option on third down.

It’s assumed that the Lions will run a 3-2 defense under Patricia. Devon Kennard, Christian Jones, Jonathan Freeny and Sylvester Williams were added this offseason to help out the defense. The Lions finished 27th in the league allowing 243.2 yards a game.

It was just announced Ezekiel Ansah was added to the PUP list and there is no time set for his return.

Earning 19 interceptions last year, this secondary is one of the best in the league. Darius Slay keeps emerging as one of the best and teammates like Glover Quin, Tavon Wilson, Nevin Lawson, and DeShawn Snead.

Second place:

The Green Bay Packers.

Honestly, you can never tell which Green Bay will show up. It will all depend on the health of star quarterback Aaron Rodgers. If history repeats itself like it has once when he was injured. He should have another MVP season.

Rodgers lost his favorite target in the offseason in Jordy Nelson but still has DaVante Adams and Randall Cobb. One of the biggest offseason moves was adding tight end Jimmy Graham which was huge for the Packers. I can’t tell you how big of an asset Graham will be for Rodgers. Graham will be a must pick-up in fantasy this offseason.

The Packers also have three running backs to plug and play with Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, and Jamaal Williams.

Not having that pass rusher they need can hurt the Packers defense. They went with their secondary as their main concern in the draft. They are looking for Clay Matthews and Nick Perry to become what they once were for the pass rush.

Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, and Kevin King have suffered injuries to weaken the Packers secondary. They need the leadership of Muhammad Wilkerson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to overcome this so-so defense.

I don’t see this defense leading this Packer team to the promise land. Maybe a wild card birth can happen, but we’ve all been proven wrong before with great quarterbacks.

Last but not least,

The Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings got to the NFC Championship last year, which means that team was pretty good. Well, one simple move and they got even better. They added quarterback Kirk Cousins which can help lead them to the promised land.

Cousins can be the factor that the Vikings have been looking for. The Vikings also acquired Trevor Siemian for a backup quarterback that hasn’t been injury prone for the first time in several seasons. The Vikings now have the Eagles quarterbacks coach from last year as their offensive coordinator.

We can’t forget the offensive powerhouse in Dalvin Cook, who was very impressive before tearing an ACL last year. Latavius Murray will give Cook strength as a solid back-up.

They may have the best receiver core in the NFL in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs. They will look to continue their terror on defenses again this year.

The Vikings finished first in defense last year and they only lost one player. The biggest concern for the Vikings is the interior line. Other than that, this defense is incredibly strong. It all starts with All-Pro Everson Griffen who is a terrorizing pass rusher and then you add the likes of Linval Joesph and Danielle Hunter.

The linebackers, Eric Kendricks and Anthony Barr perfect Mike Zimmer’s double-A Gap. Look for them to become a core to be reckoned with.

The Vikings finished the season with 14 interceptions which is low considering the talent this team has. They have two first team all-pros in safety Harrison Smith and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. They were also able to draft corner Mike Hughes in the draft to help fill the other side for Rhodes. Hughes will be competing with Trae Waynes for the number two spot.

It’s definitely possible with as much talent as this Vikings team has, they could win the Super Bowl. Anything but a Super Bowl would be highly upsetting for all Vikings fans.

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Preston Bostain

Preston covers the Tennessee Titans and the AFC South for NGSC Sports. He also covers Nashville Predators hockey.
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Preston Bostain
Preston covers the Tennessee Titans and the AFC South for NGSC Sports. He also covers Nashville Predators hockey.
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Preston Bostain

Preston covers the Tennessee Titans and the AFC South for NGSC Sports. He also covers Nashville Predators hockey.

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