The NFL’s weakest Division.
WINNER: CHICAGO BEARS (12-4)
The 10th best team overall, the Bears look to take advantage of an easy schedule, and an even easier Division.
I’m not one to put too much emphasis in “QBR”, but surprisingly, QB Mitchell Trubisky ranked 3rd in QBR (71.0) among all qualifying Quarterbacks last season. Of course, a big portion of his rating is padded with tons of check-down’s to RB Tarik Cohen. Still, Trubisky appears to be more than serviceable on a team that just needs him to “do his job”.
Head Coach Matt Nagy is among the league’s brightest young Offensive minds, and his system is producing results. Thankfully for he and the Bears fans, the Offense is basically in the same shape it was when they won the Division a year ago. Despite losing RB Jordan Howard to the Eagles, the Chicago run game will still be a force to be dealt with. Third-round Draft pick, RB David Montgomery (Iowa State), is reported to be doing an excellent job in camp of replacing Howard. The wide receivers unit has even been bulked up a bit, with the drafting of the promising rookie WR Riley Ridley (Georgia). Also the young WR Taylor Gabriel is becoming more of a leader in his second year with the team.
While there are fears that the Defense won’t be as effective under new Coordinator Chuck Pagano, I see the Bears continuing to dominate this side of the ball. From the D-Line, to the Linebackers, and the Secondary, Chicago has an elite defense with no perceivable holes. However, the one thing they should hope to avoid is any injuries to the core of the Defensive Line, as they are thin personnel wise up-front. The kicking game may not yet be fixed, but the “Monsters of The Midway” should have no problem winning another NFC North. It’s in the Playoffs where they’ll fall short.
DETROIT LIONS (7-9)
They aren’t much better than Minnesota, but we do have Detroit ranked slightly ahead of them.
Victims of an extremely tough schedule early on, 2nd year Head Coach, Matt Patricia may find himself on the “hot seat” around Week 6 or 7, as the Lions are projected to start 0-6. The somewhat good news for Motown is that the schedule becomes much easier in the 2nd half, and Detroit should get hot down the stretch, winning 7 or their final 10 games.
Having drafted the best Tight End in the draft, T.J. Hockenson, they have plenty of Offensive weapons. From WR Kenny Golladay, to WR Marvin Jones, QB Matthew Stafford is certainly not lacking a deep-threat. They’ve moved on from RB Theo Riddick (Broncos), but are very confident in the abilities of second-year back RB Kerryon Johnson, and also signed RB C.J. Anderson away from LA.
For the Lions, their demise all year will be pinned on the horrible Secondary, and sub-par O-Line. Much like Tampa Bay, you can have all the Offensive stars you want, but it won’t do you any good if the Offensive Line can’t give the QB enough time to get the ball out. Also similar to Tampa, they should have an extremely tough time slowing teams down with that weak Secondary. Look for the OVER’s to be cashing all season in Detroit.
MINNESOTA VIKINGS (7-9)
Ask Hall of Fame RB Terrell Davis of the NFL Network, “who will win the Super Bowl?”, and you will get a very different answer than that of BeatVegas. Davis is putting his faith in Kirk Cousins to lead the purple and gold to the promised land of their first Super Bowl victory.
Apparently Davis didn’t do very much digging, and neglected the homework of uncovering the true 2019-20 Vikings.
The majority of the issues stem from the two most important employees the team has, Head Coach Mike Zimmer, and QB Kirk Cousins. While Zimmer seems like a great guy you’d love to grab a beer with, his coaching style and belief system for success in the NFL is outdated. Coach Zimm still puts great emphasis in running the ball, and reports are this year he plans to give a huge work-load to RB Dalvin Cook. Of course it’s important to have a solid running game, but with the indoor fast-track of U.S. Bank Stadium, and new NFL Offense friendly rules the past few years, the passing game is where it’s at when it comes to efficiency. The team would be much better served with a more accurate/mobile decision maker at QB, who can dish out completion after completion as they slant and duck their way down the field. It’s for these reasons why QB Patrick Mahomes is so valuable in today’s game. Instead, the Vikes have the inconsistent Cousins working the sidelines to the uber talented WR’s Stephon Diggs and Adam Thielen, as if he has the finesse of Aaron Rodgers. News Flash- He doesn’t.
There have also been lots of whispers amongst players around the league that Cousins lacks true leadership skills. He may have plenty of passion for the game, but I agree with the players. Minnesota simply doesn’t have the right QB (or Head Coach) in place for this otherwise great roster to have success. Having questions in the kicking game as well, the Vikings yet again miss the Playoffs.
GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-11)
I could write all day about the problems facing Green Bay.
Ever since, GM Ted Thompson left the organization (2017), they have done nothing but make poor decisions. From the players they have let go, to their Draft picks and Staff hires, it’s been a disaster. Having been the architect of the 2010-11 Super Bowl Championship run, which included his Draft picks, Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Clay Matthews, and others, Thompson and his coach Mike McCarthy ran the team at an elite level.
The same can not be said for team President Mark Murphy and now GM, Brian Gutekunst. The duo made the biggest mistake one could possibly make in management. They decided that they knew a better way to build a winner, than the proven model of success Thompson had previously put together. Giving up on aging stars like WR’s Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb during the time of their career when the window was still open for success with Rodgers, did nothing but put the team at an enormous disadvantage. It was as if anything and anyone (besides Rodgers) that had any ties to Thompson were doomed to leave.
Even former Head Coach Mike McCarthy couldn’t escape the black hole that is the ego’s of Murphy and Gutekunst. Sure they made a decent Draft pick with CB Jaire Alexander, but he is actually a good example of what ails the Packers. Alexander is a brash guy, that can easily rub teammates the wrong way. Under Thompson, Green Bay maintained a certain culture of “good guys”, that worked perfectly with the personality and demeanor of QB Aaron Rodgers. Instead with Murphy and Gutekunst, the team doesn’t have an actual identity. Just a mix of prospects who look good on paper. Other than WR Davante Adams, the wide receiver cupboard is bare in Title Town. While RB Aaron Jones is sure to help out, the O-Line is overrated, and little was done in the offseason to improve that part of their game.
The Secondary (other than Alexander) is weak, and the kicking game relies on shaky Mason Crosby. Not to mention, when new Head Coach Matt LaFleur was hired, there were many questioning whether LaFleur had the ability to even be a coordinator in the League. Unfortunately for the Cheeseheads, the Packers are a great example of how not to run a team. It’s a real shame when you consider the roster has a future Hall of Famer at QB.