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Is It Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood Again? 2018 NFC North Preview
Photo Courtesy of Clutch Points

Is It Mr. Rodger’s Neighborhood Again? 2018 NFC North Preview

Football is back and with the regular season a couple weeks away it will be interesting to see how the NFC North plays out. The division received a nice shake up this offseason. Minnesota and Green Bay are the clear-cut leaders of the pack. That doesn’t mean the others are that far behind. While it will be a two teams arms race for the number one spot, it won’t be easy. Each team in the division posses quality defenses and when executing on all levels can flat out dominate. Whichever team expects to make it out of the NFC will have to go through the North.

 

 Chicago Bears

Record in 2017: 5-11

Key Player: Running Back- Jordan Howard

Player To Watch: Wide Receiver- Anthony Miller

Year Two of the Mitch Trubisky era is underway and it looks promising. The young quarterback is surrounded by a decent supporting cast and after being thrown in the fire last year he should take some huge steps. Chicago has gone out and found the young quarterback a few pieces via free agency and the draft. Veteran playmakers Allen Robinson and Trey Burton should provide nice targets once settled into their new roles. Trubisky also has two really good rookie receivers in Anthony Miller and Javon Wimms. Both rookies have really impressed this preseason, giving Bears fans hope this passing game will take flight. Add in the two-headed monster at running back with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen and this offense is complete. Chicago quietly had one of the best defenses last year, ranking 10th in total defense. With the new additions Roquan Smith and a few others this defense will be even better. Chicago has a legit chance at a wild card spot this year. Everything has to fall into place for this team surprise a few people this year and sneak into the party. Prediction: 8-8

 

 Detroit Lions

Record in 2017: 9-7

Key Player: Running Back- Kerryon Johnson

Player To Watch:  Cornerback- Deshawn Shead

The Lions are hoping to find their way back into the postseason and the conversation as one of the best teams in the division. They definitely have the quarterback to do it with Matthew Stafford. The Lions offense has weapons with receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones and now Luke Wilson. Detroit’s Achilles heel has always been the run game. While Stafford has Hall Of Fame potential, you can’t keep expecting him to perform late-game magic week to week in order to win games. This run game has to step up. Detroit’s defense was horrible last year, ranking 27th in the NFL. New Head coach Matt Patricia will definitely be tested this year. While he is a Bill Belichick disciple and has championship pedigree on his resume, this Lions’ defense still needs a ton of work. The Lions will win a few games they have no business to this year, but still have slim playoff hopes. It may be time to start looking at life after Matthew Stafford. Prediction: 7-9

 

 Green Bay Packers

Record in 2017: 7-9

Key Player:  Running Back- Jamaal William

Player to Watch: EDGE Rusher- Muhammad Wilkerson

The injury bug hit Green Bay hard last season. A good chunk of the Packers’ offense was lost last year due to injury. With that in the past, Green Bay is ready to reclaim the division. The addition of tight end Jimmy Graham makes this offense more explosive. Although he didn’t catch on like he would have like to in Seattle, playing with Aaron Rodgers should erase any doubt in peoples’ mind that he is still the same scoring threat from years past. The Packers’ defense ranked 24th in the league last year. That can’t happen if you expect to run this division.  The signing of Muhammed Wilkerson should help. Wilkerson wants to show he’s the same guy that the Jets gave all that money to a few years ago. On paper, Green Bay has everything to compete against Minnesota. Aaron Rodgers has a chip on his shoulder to prove he is still top dog in this division. Anything less than a Super Bowl for Rodgers heading into this will be a failure. Prediction: 12-4

 

 Minnesota Vikings

Record  in 2017: 13-3

 Key Player: Running Back- Dalvin Cook

Player to Watch: Wide Reciever- LaquonTreadwell

The Vikings surprised a few people last year. We all knew about that killer defense but the offense did not miss a beat. This season looks no different, especially after adding Kurt Cousins. The Vikings have everything they need to win a Super Bowl. Now with the addition of Cousins it makes them that much harder to beat. Case Keenum was decent but he wasn’t what this offense needed to get over the hump. Also losing running back Dalvin Cook hurt as well. The second year back has a unique skill set that could make him one of the most versatile backs in the league. The Vikings can’t get too high up on themselves. They still have to prove they can win the big game. Any slip ups and Green Bay will have no problem taking over the driver’s seat as the best team in the division. Prediction: 13-3

 

 

 

 

 

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