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2023 NFC North Division Preview

Updated: Sep 8

For the first time since 2008 Aaron Rodgers will not be suiting up as starting QB of the Green Bay Packers, and with that, leaves the NFC North Division wide open for the taking. Last year's division winners, The Minnesota Vikings, are a prime candidate for regression toward the mean, and the Lions and Bears are both taking their young teams to new heights. While there are certainly favorites, this division can go to anyone let's take a look at the NFC North.

Chicago Bears

Photo Credit: GettyImages/AP

Key Additions: RB D’Onta Foreman, WR D.J. Moore, TE Robert Tonyan, G Nate Davis, DE/DT Rasheem Green, DT DeMarcus Walker, DT Andrew Billings, LB Tremaine Edmunds, LB T.J. Edwards, OT Darnell Wright, DT Gervon Dexter.

Key Losses: RB David Montgomery, WR Equanimeous St. Brown, WR Dante Pettis, OT Riley Reiff, G Michael Schofield.

Biggest Strength:

The Bears' biggest strength has to be in their QB Justin Fields, whom many believe is going to continue his improvement from the back half of last season. This hope was bolstered by an improvement on the offensive line with the acquisition of Nate Davis and the slightly better-than-lateral move of moving on from Riley Reiff to rookie offensive tackle Darnell Wright from Tennessee, who didn't give up a single sack in his 2022 college performance last year. Fields should also enjoy DJ Moore joining the team, as last year, Darnell Mooney was slated as WR 1, which should never happen on any NFL team ever. The run D should also be bolstered with the new additions of Tramaine Edmonds and TJ Edwards at LB and a complete rehaul at DT of Walker, Billings, and day 2 picks Gervon Dexter and Zach Pickens.

Biggest Weakness:

The Bears did nothing to bolster their pass defense, keeping the same edge rushers that ranked a nearly dead last pressure count and a secondary that helped them rank dead last in pass defense last year. Another big issue with the Bears have to be their running game as weird as that may sound. Fields was the team's second-best runner and really close to their most productive runner last year. They lost their top runner, David Montgomery to division rival Detroit Lions. This leaves the younger Kalil Herbert to take starting snaps for The Bears.

They make the playoffs if:

Fields makes use of the revamped offense and the secondary can hold up better than they did last season.

Season Prediction:

The Bears are many people's dark horse to win the division. This is not the year for that. The NFC is weak this year and that will help but I don't see them competing with the upper half of the NFC. But playoffs are in the cards in a very weak NFC.

Floor: 4-13

Ceiling: 8-9

Actual Prediction 6-10

Green Bay Packers

Photo Credit: GettyImages/AP

Key additions: WR Jaylen Reed, WR Dontayvion Wicks, TE Luke Musgrave, TE Tucker Kraft

Key departures: QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Allen Lazard, WR Randall Cobb, TE Robert Tonyan, TE Marcedes Lewis

Biggest Strength:

The NFC North is going to become the new version of the black and blue division as the Packers' biggest strength is also at the running back position with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon likely to be the strong point on this offense running behind an above average offensive line led by one of the league's best LTs in David Baktiari. They will also have to make up for their inexperience at the QB position. The Packers also boast a strong edge rushing corps adding first-round pick Lucas Van Ness to an already strong unit of Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, who combined for a total of 33 sacks last season.

Biggest Weakness:

Quarterback is the biggest question mark going into next season as the Jordan Love era has finally begun. This is the first time since 1992 that the Packers will not have a future hall-of-fame QB behind center it is such a long trend that some people actually believe in Love's opportunity to continue the trend. I personally do not, and neither do the Packers, as they only extended Love for a one year prove it deal. Add that to a historically bad WR corps that headlines the backups to a squad that not even back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers could make look like a passable squad.

They make the playoffs if:

I'm wrong about Jordan Love and he is the next coming of great Packers QBs and the WRs take an inexplicable step forward or if the defense stands on it's head and carries the putrid offense to a last seed spot.

Record predictions:

This is a blow it up and rebuild year for the Packers. Next year the Pack should see a bunch of draft capital from the Rodgers trade, comp picks from losing players, and 2023 draft day shenanigans. It will hurt this year Packers fans but it shouldn't hurt for that long.

Floor: 2-17

Ceiling 6-11

Real Prediction 4- 13

Detroit Lions

Photo Credit: GettyImages/AP

Key Additions: RB David Montgomery, WR Marvin Jones, G/C Graham Glasgow, CB Cameron Sutton, CB Emmanuel Moseley, S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, K Riley Patterson, RB Jahmyr Gibbs, LB Jack Campbell, TE Sam LaPorta, S Brian Branch, QB Hendon Hooker, DT Brodric Martin, QB Teddy Bridgewater.

Key Losses: RB Jamaal Williams, RB D’Andre Swift, WR D.J. Chark, DT Michael Brockers, CB Jeff Okudah.

Biggest Strength:

The Lions have a top 5 offensive line unit in the NFL headlined by book end tackles Taylor Decker and Penai Sewell. Whom should open holes for a revamped Lions RB corps of first round rookie Jahmyr Gibbs and free agent acquisition David Montgomery. Defensively the Lions made many improvements none of which were more needed and more successful than the all new Lions CB corps with Cameron Sutton from the Steelers, Emmanuel Moseley from the 49ers and CJ Gardner-Johnson from the Eagles and stole Alabama Safety Brian Branch in the 2nd round to come in and start at nickle corner right away. A squad that was bottom of the league last year is looking like an above average group going into 2023.

Biggest Weakness:

Detroit's linebacking corps could still use some improvement after adding first round LB Jack Campbell out of Iowa to put next to Alex Anzalone and fan favorite Malcolm Rodriguez. Anzalone struggled in run support but did ok in pass defense while Rodriguez had the opposite problem. While on paper it is a team strength I do have some concerns about the Lions wide receiver corps. Amon Ra St. Brown is a Pro Bowl caliber player but beyond him there are a bunch of question marks. Jameson Williams will be missing for the first 6 games but didn't look all that great when he returned from the ACL injury last season and until then they will be trotting out the corpse of Marvin Jones JR and 7th round WR Antoine Green to help support St. Brown.

They make the playoffs if:

They continue to build upon their 8-2 record at the season's end. That stretch contained wins against 3 playoff teams.

Season Prediction:

The Lions are not dark horses anymore they are favorites.

Floor: 9-8

Ceiling: 14-3

Real Prediction: 12-5

Minnesota Vikings

Photo Credit: GettyImages/AP

Key additions: WR Jordan Addison, WR Brandon Powell, TE Josh Oliver, CB Byron Murphy, DE Marcus Davenport

Key departures: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Adam Thielen, TE Irv Smith, TE Ben Ellefson, CB Patrick Peterson, DT Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Eric Kendricks

Biggest Strength:

The Vikings have one of the most explosive offenses in the league due to the arguably the best receiver in the league, Justin Jefferson. Justin Jefferson is been picked number one and plenty of NFL fantasy football leagues and for good reason. The reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year Was electrifying in 2022 and Kirk Cousins finally silenced some of the haters in his ears. Cousins led the Vikings to the division crown for the first time since 2008 on his way to an pro Bowl season. Cousins led the league with eight game winning drives and eight comeback victories. They will also have T.J. Hockenson for a full season. His targets and production increased after his trade from Detroit, so look for him to be very productive this season. The Vikings were 11-0 in one score games. One question mark will be is if Alexander Mattison can replace Dalvin Cook as the lead back. He's look good in flashes for the Vikings, but now he's the main guy.

Biggest Weakness:

As good as the offense was last season, the defense was equally horrific. The Vikings were at the bottom of all major statistical categories for defense. They finished in the bottom half in yards per game, points allowed and rushing yards allowed. The defense. Defense let them down in the playoffs as they made the Giants look like "The Greatest Show on Turf" as they made a early round playoff exit. This prompted the Vikings to hire a new defensive coordinator and Brian Flores to fix this unit.

They make the playoffs if:

The defense can get stops and get off the field, and not put the offense under pressure to win all the ball games.

Season Prediction:

The defense should be improved with new defensive coordinator floors in the fold. While the loss of Dalvin cook can be huge, Mattison will need to assume a larger role that he may not be ready for. For. They should be fighting with the Lions for the division but ultimately lose out.

Floor: 8-9

Ceiling: 12-5

Actual Prediction 10-7

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