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NFC North Preview
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NFC North Preview

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Ryan Foley,

 

 

 

 

 

The NFC North took a crazy turn for the worst in Minnesota this preseason when Teddy Bridgewater went down with a season ending knee injury forcing the frantic decision to pick up now highly paid journeyman QB Sam Bradford. Fans in Minnesota have expressed their disappointment as they looked to build off their division title last season but that game plan has only changed as the talent remains up and down their roster. The Green Bay Packers look to regain their dominance as so the Chicago Bears with Jay Cutler leading the way, and with a long-shot, the Detroit Lions look to pull off some upsets and take the division away.

 

 Green Bay Packers

Record in 2015: 10-6

Key Player: Quarterback- Aaron Rodgers

Player To Watch: Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson

 The Packers look to get back in their winning ways as they are finally healthy on the offensive side of the ball. Last season because of injuries, the Packers did not have the continuity that we’re used to seeing from a Aaron Rodgers led Packers offense. With the return of a healthy Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, the Packers offense will still need a, now more slender, Eddy Lacy to shoulder the load and open things up for MVP hopeful Rodgers. With Julius Peppers and Clay Mathews anchoring the defense, the Packers are poised for a long stretch into the postseason. Prediction: 12-4

 

 Minnesota Vikings

Record in 2015: 11-5

Key player: Running Back- Adrian Peterson

Player To Watch: Quarterback- Sam Bradford

Outlook: The Vikings had hoped for another division title this season and a deep run into the playoffs as they still have one of the top running backs of all-time in Adrian Peterson also including a developing Teddy Bridgewater and a young receiving core. All that changed when Bridgewater went down with a season ending injury which led to the Vikings picking up Sam Bradford via trade. The Vikings fortunately have a rock solid defense, led by linebacker Anthony Barr and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Had it not been for historically cold weather vs the Seattle Seahawks, the Vikings were quietly going to earn some respect last playoffs; all still possible with the situation at hand. Prediction: 9-7

 

 Chicago Bears

Record in 2015: 6-10

Key player: Tight End- Zach Miller

Player To Watch: Quarterback- Jay Cutler

Outlook: The Bears said goodbye to long term team veterans kicker Robbie Gould and running back Matt Forte and hope to revitalize a team that struggled on both sides of the ball. Head coach John Fox must find a way to get the absolute best out of QB Jay Cutler as his attitude dictates the team vibes. The best way to get Cutler playing at the high potential that he has is by keeping him happy. If tight end Zach Miller can stay healthy and Alshon Jefferey continues to ascend to the top of the NFL wide receiver’s list, then Bears can surprise some people and make a possible playoff appearance. They have addressed some needs at the linebacker position by signing highly coveted Danny Trevathan (from Denver Broncos) and acquiring inside linebacker Jerrell Freeman (from Indianapolis Colts). This gives the struggling defense from a year ago a chance to redeem themselves. Prediction: 7-9

 

 Detroit Lions

Record in 2015: 7-9

Key Player: Quarterback- Matt Stafford

Player To Watch: Wide Receiver- Anquan Boldin

Outlook: The Lions took a huge blow this off-season when the best wideout in Lions’ history, Calvin Johnson, announced his early retirement. Lions fans have unfortunately seen this before in the 90’s with the early retirement of the great Barry Sanders. Attempting to fill-in for Johnson will be newly acquired wide receiver Marvin Jones (from Cincinnati Bengals). Matt Stafford will have to have a career year for the Lions to get out of the division or even make this season relevant. On the defensive side of the ball look for defensive tackles Haloti Ngata and Trunn Walker to clog up the middle and stop the run. The defense creating good field position for the offense will be key but many other aspects of the game will have to come together for the Lions to be competitive this season. Prediction: 4-12

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