The NFC North should be known as the division for the “Outer Limits.”
Every week there is a plot twist and involves some strange but true result. We are six weeks into the season and already I’m befuddled to how the Chicago Bears are in first place while the favored Packers were blown out in Tampa.
Let’s deconstruct this division, shall we?
Green Bay Packers (4-1)
Analysis: The Packers enjoyed another yearly edition of “one bad game.” Where Green Bay believes they can dust off the 38-10 loss to the Bucs with the same aplomb they did after losing to the 49ers in 2019. The next three games involve @ Texans (1-5), Vikings (1-5), and deja vu with a trip to San Francisco on Thursday night. If the Packers want to show their theory works. Then win all three. I know Green Bay can score, they average 32 points a game. Oh, yeah they have Aaron Rodgers to lead. Last year after that SF loss, he had eight touchdowns and two interceptions. It is about playing good defense when they are down, which they have yet to prove. Until then, this offense will once again put the defensive struggles “behind the curtain” and win the division again.
Prediction: 11-5 (NFC North champions)
Chicago Bears (5-1)
Analysis: I’m still beyond shocked at how well the Chicago Bears have played with quarterback Nick Foles. You can look at the schedule and say their wins were over teams who were a combined 26-53 in 2019. However, steer away from that old take and see that they are back playing their “defense first” style of football. The offense is nothing to cheer about, they are 28th in offense and barely score 21 a game. Foles is averaging a touchdown and interception per game, the running game is a question mark and the offensive line play is still shaky. Get used to the Bears winning ugly especially when this defense has only given up four passing touchdowns. If they can win two of the next three games, it’s time to give Chicago their respect. It won’t be easy. They play on Monday night at the Rams, welcome the Saints into town, and look to upset the Titans in Nashville.
Prediction: 10-6 (wild card appearance)
Detroit Lions (2-3)
Analysis: I admired how well the Lions played at Jacksonville, but then it was a reminder that if you want to dethrone the Green Bay Packers. You have to beat the bad teams, literally blow them out. Can they win three of their next four? The teams they play have a combined 7-17. You are being gifted with the Falcons, Washington, Vikings, and a “prove it” battle with the Colts. They have a punter’s chance, I’ll give them that. They have a defensive coach in Matt Patricia who is 11-25. While their offense shows sparks of greatness. The defense does not look like an elite unit by any means. I felt bad even saying “elite” in that sentence. Show something, Detroit.
Prediction: 6-10 (new coach/GM in 2021)
Minnesota Vikings (1-5)
Analysis: How’s the Vikings looking right now? Check out this excerpt from David Fucillo of DraftKings back in September.
“The Vikings are a well-rounded team, with a competent quarterback, strong group of running backs, a proven No. 1 receiver and capable defense.”
Let’s start with Kirk Cousins. He leads the league in interceptions (10), sacked 14 times. Yes, they have a strong running game led by Dalvin Cook, Alexander Mattison who rushed for 839 yards and eight touchdowns. Only if Cook can stay healthy. Adam Thielen has seven touchdowns, but most came in garbage time otherwise he disappears. Capable defense? They lost Xavier Rhodes, Everson Griffen, and Linval Joseph to free agency. Anthony Barr is out for the year and Danielle Hunter is still on the injured reserve. What do you get in return for that? Yannick Ngakoue (five sacks, five tackles for loss). They are ranked 28th and give up over 400 yards per game. The Vikings’ future is checkered with uncertainty. Remember they were blown out by the winless Atlanta Falcons with no head coach or general manager. At home.
Prediction: 5-11 (new coach/GM coming)
* – Odds via DraftKings.