05 Sep NFC North Preview
The Bears are back and in a big way. People often say the best offense is a good defense, if that is that case the Bears have the best offense in the league. In reality the offense still has question marks. The biggest question is if Mitchell Trubisky has grown over the off season. From year one to year two he improved in almost every category. The most important ones being a 7% raise in completion percentage, almost 1100 more yards and 17 more touchdowns. Playing in Matt Nagy’s offense has certainly helped boost the offense. With a relative young skills group on the offense some early season trouble could be looming. Also the decision to hold starters out of preseason was interesting and we’ll have to see how that plays out. One thing is for sure the defense will be ready to go from Week 1 and will lead the Bears to an NFC North title.
Green Bay Packers:
The Packers haven’t been considered underdogs in the NFC North often over the last 20 years but they face some real challenges this season. First year head coach Matt Lafleur needs to get unity on this team and have all his players playing at their highest level. Outside of the always reliable Aaron Rodgers and Devante Adams their team has some issues. Aaron Jones proved he is a very capable runner and can catch passes out of the backfield, but if he goes down they become very thin at the position. I do expect big things from receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling as Rodgers will look to target him when Adams gets doubled. After trading Ha Ha Clinton-Dix last season people worried about the Packers defensive unit. The Packers addressed those concerns over the off season and bolstered the defense with a bunch of play makers. They added safety Adrian Amos, edge rusher Za’Darius Smith and edge rusher Preston Smith. Look for the Packers to compete hard for the NFC North title and at worst fall into the wild card spot.
The Minnesota Vikings will have a clear answer as to why they are winning or why they are losing this season. That answer is Kirk Cousins. Not a lot of people think he is the real deal and can you blame them? Cousins is surrounded by big time skill players in Minnesota and lead them to a very underwhelming 8-7-1 season. A fully healthy Dalvin Cook could be a difference maker, but he’s going to run into some big time run stopping defenses in the North this year. The defense is going to be reliable as they have been for the past couple of years. They should hold teams to at least a touchdown less than they are averaging and take away passing and run lanes. I want to have more faith in this team, but until Cousins shows me that he can lead a team above expectations I have them at third in the division.
The Lions are about as unpredictable as it comes. Will Kerryon Johnson ignite the run game, will Stafford string together consecutive good drives, who knows. Under 2nd year coach Matt Patricia the Lions put up many lackluster performances. Over the off season the Lions tried to improve their defense and brought in edge rusher Trey Flowers, and CB Justin Coleman. Patricia has continued to try and implement “the patriots way” around the locker room and it will be interesting to see if that gains traction. With Golladay, Marvin Jones Jr, and the newly drafted T.J. Hockenson, Stafford should have plenty of weapons to work with. I still see this team as rebuilding even with some star power and one of the highest paid quarterbacks. I don’t think 2019 will be a banner year in any way for the Lions, but they can improve and move forward with their future.