Sports

NFL Previews That Don’t Suck: NFC North

during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California. during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game at Candlestick Park on January 12, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  

Rough ending to the season last year, ayy Bears fans? Well get ready for more disappointment because…wait for it, wait for it…Aaron Rodgers is back for a full year! Meanwhile the city of Detroit continues to crumble, and the Lions are all set for a fine offensive season and an 8-8 record. And other than Adrian Peterson and a new coach, the Vikings really don’t have much to offer this universe.

Green Bay Packers

2013 Record – 8-7-1, Division Champions
NFC North Record – 3-2-1

Notable Losses: Jermichael Finley
Notable Additions: Julius Peppers, Full season of Aaron Rodgers
Notable Draft Picks: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

The Green Bay Packers are a completely different team with a healthy Aaron Rodgers, aka: one of the three best quarterbacks in the NFL. Rodgers started only nine games last season after suffering a broken collarbone vs. Da Bears on Monday Night Football.

When Aaron started and finished a game last year, the Packers were 6-2. When he did not, they were 2-5-1. That’s basically what it boils down to. This was an 11-5 or 12-4 quality football team last year and that should continue this season.

This could easily be one of the best offenses in the NFL this season. Couple Rodgers and his passing attack featuring Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb amongst others, with the fierce running of Eddie Lacy, and I’ll give you about 31 other teams that really have no desire to play them come December and January at Lambeau.

They could be even better if Clay Matthews makes it through an entire season healthy and Julius Peppers plays like he can.

Best Case Scenario: 13-3, Conference Champs

Let’s put it this way: I’m an Eagles fan, and I have no desire to see the Eagles play the Pack in Green Bay after Thanksgiving. None whatsoever. This could be the team that crushes San Fran or Seattle’s hopes in the playoffs, and we’ll all be very thankful for that.

Worst Case Scenario: 10-6, contention for the NFC North title.

Matthews doesn’t stay healthy, Peppers plays his age and is useless, and they get banged around on offense…and even then they’ll still probably make the playoffs because that’s how good Aaron Rodgers is.

Schedule:

@ Seahawks
vs. Jets
@ Lions
@ Bears
vs. Vikings
@ Dolphins
vs. Panthers
@ Saints
BYE
vs. Bears
vs. Eagles
@ Vikings
vs. Patriots
vs. Falcons
@ Bills
@ Buccaneers
vs. Lions

Chicago Bears

2013 Record – 8-8, 2nd place
NFC North Record – 2-4

Notable Losses: Julius Peppers, Josh McCown, Devin Hester
Notable Additions: Jared Allen, Santonio Holmes, Jimmy Clausen (LOL, not a joke),
Notable Draft Picks: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

This team has Wild Card team written all over them. A rebuilt defense, an offense that should have one hell of a season collectively. This should actually be a good team that, will (more than likely) have their hearts ripped out by Aaron Rodgers once again.

Sorry guys, it happens to everyone, but it just happens to you more often than everyone else.

Back to the offense though, if Smokin’ Jay Cutler can’t have a good season with the group around him, then I really have no idea what else there is to say about Jay Cutler. Brandon Marshall is a top 5 receiver. Alshon Jeffery is a top 10 one. Matt Forte is a top 5 NFL running back. Martellus Bennett isn’t even that bad as a tight end.

Everything really hinges on Cutler’s ability (or lack-thereof) to limit mistakes, and the defense that was just God awful last year. They could have won the division vs. Philly last year before they even played the Pack and Aaron Rodgers in week 17 for the NFC North title.

You remember what they did Bears fans?

Yes, you sure do. They lost 54-11. FIFTY FOUR TO ELEVEN with the playoffs on the line.

Best Case Scenario: 11-5, Playoff team

The Bears are a good team. They should be, at least. Good Smokin’ Jay and decent D will get them into the playoffs with that cast.

Worst Case Scenario: 8-8, Not a playoff team

The defense remains amazingly terrible and Cutler throws 20 picks, which is completely possible. As I’ve mentioned about as many times as I could, it ALL depends on those two components.

Schedule:

vs. Bills
@ 49ers
@ Jets
vs. Packers
@ Panters
@ Falcons
vs. Dolphins
@ Patriots
BYE
@ Packers
vs. Vikings
vs. Buccaneers
@ Lions
vs. Cowboys
vs. Saints
vs. Lions
@ Vikings

Detroit Lions

2013 Record – 7-9, 3rd place
NFC North Record – 4-2

Notable Losses: David Akers
Notable Additions: Head Coach Jim Caldwell, Golden Tate
Notable Draft Picks: Eric Ebron

Trivia question: Who was the only team last year to start the season 6-3 and finish 1-6 and miss the playoffs? DING DING DING…the Detriot Lions!!

Talk about a meltdown of epic proportions. The Lions were tied with for the NFC North lead on November 9th at 6-3, half a game ahead of the Pack. They were still in contention going into Week 16. Amazing, huh?

Anyway, a new sheriff is in town, former Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell (Tony Dungy’s successor), and absolutely nothing has changed a whole hell of a lot. Matthew Stafford is still the same gunslinging, touchdown and interception throwing machine that throws the ball 50 times a game, with 49 of those being thrown in Megatron’s direction (can you blame him?)

This team is only worth watching because of Calvin Johnson, it’s pretty simple. He had 84 receptions and almost 1,300 yards, and that’s kind of a down year for him. But they have Golden Tate now! Exciting stuff? Meh, not really.

Best Case Scenario: 10-6

Stafford limits the INT’s and the defensive duo of Ndamukong Suh/Nick Fairley actually reaches their potential. This team could be fun to watch, in all seriousness. Look at the bright side Detroit fans, at least they take your attention away from your amazingly awful city for three hours a week or so.

Worst Case Scenario: 7-9

Basically everything that happened last year happens. Again. It’s that simple.

Schedule:

vs. Giants
@ Panthers
vs. Packers
@ Jets
vs. Bills
@ Vikings
vs. Saints
@ Falcons
BYE
vs. Dolphins
@ Cardinals
@ Patriots
vs. Bears
vs. Buccaneers
vs. Vikings
@ Bears
@ Packers

Minnesota Vikings

2013 Record – 5-10-1, Division Champions
NFC North Record – 2-3-1

Notable Losses: Toby Gerhart, Jared Allen, Kevin Williams
Notable Additions: Linval Joseph
Notable Draft Picks: Teddy Bridgewater, Anthony Barr

Talk about a team that’s in full-on rebuilding mode. New coach? Check. New Stadium? Check. New quarterback? Well, not quite yet, but soon enough the Teddy Bridgewater show will be in Minnesota!!

Hooray, you guys got a quarterback at the end of the first round that was supposed to be the first pick of the draft. Ya know, that really doesn’t sound too promising. But hey! Minnesota’s gotta find something to be excited about that isn’t Adrian Peterson.

OH! And the Vikings are playing outside this year. That’ll be a ton of fun for, uh, Minnesota fans in December. A bad team and sub-zero temps is one hell of a recipe!

Soon enough you’ll be ok to watch Minnesota. And in all likelihood, Adrian Peterson won’t be with you anymore.

Interpret that however you would like to.

Best Case Scenario: 6-10, last place

Optimistic? Don’t be. Expect another top 10 pick come next April, or May, or whenever the hell the NFL holds the draft these days.

Worst Case Scenario: 2-14, last place, top pick of NFL Draft

The Teddy Bridgewater era begins…and then a new quarterback era will begin next year when they realize he’s no Randall Cunningham. Sorry Minnesota fans. At least you have the Wild, right?

Schedule:

@ Rams
vs. Patriots
@ Saints
vs. Falcons
@ Packers
vs. Lions
@ Bills
@ Buccaneers
vs. Redskins
BYE
@ Bears
vs. Packers
vs. Panthers
vs. Jets
@ Lions
@ Dolphins
vs. Bears