Let’s Play A Game: “Team X” Will Win The NFC North If…

September 3, 2022
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The Packers have dominated the NFC North in recent memory. They have been division champs eight times in the last 11 years. But enough praising of the Pack! We know the Vikings will win the division this year, but just for fun let’s look at all the teams. To do so, we’ll play a game called “Team X will win the NFC North if…”

The Vikings Will Win The NFC North If…

They can win games in the trenches. We can talk all we want about Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, but the Vikings will go only as far as their offensive line can take them. Thankfully, I believe the Vikings have done enough in this regard. Drafting Ed Ingram seems to have been a good move. Further, the Vikings have consistency at the tackle spot with Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. Although Garrett Bradbury has struggled in the preseason, he also comes with a lot of experience. The Vikings kept 10 offensive linemen when they cut down to 53, and I think they’ll have enough depth to give Kirk enough time while creating some holes for Dalvin Cook.

And the trenches also include the defensive line. A healthy Danielle Hunter playing opposite pass-rushing fiend Za’Darius Smith should be keeping NFC North offensive coordinators up at night. Less flashy off-season additions Harrison Phillips and Jordan Hicks should also help to vastly improve this defense. They drafted depth at defensive back, and if the defensive line can be disruptive, this defense can be enough to help the Vikings win the NFC North.

The Packers Will Win The NFC North If…

Aaron Rodgers picks up where he left off. I know that Packers fans may not be as worried about the loss of Davante Adams, but I don’t care how good Rodgers is; without Adams, he is going to have to adapt. If anyone can work with this receiving corps it’s Aaron Rodgers, but I think there will be some growing pains.

Rodgers will need his defense and …ahem… special teams, to help the Packers stay close early in the season. He’ll need this time to figure out how to most effectively use his receivers. Without Davante Adams, I see Rodgers’ wide receivers struggling to be consistent. They can still win, however, if Aaron Jones has a record-setting type of year out of the backfield. Rodgers is resourceful enough to find Jones on a much more consistent basis, and if he does, Rodgers could potentially dink-and-dunk the Packers toward an NFC North title or a playoff berth.

https://www.pntrac.com/t/4-250154-279750-148134

The Lions Will Win The NFC North If…

They start the season 2-0. For a team like the Lions, they need to change more than just their roster to compete. The Lions have been the laughingstock of the NFC North for the majority of my lifetime, and so they need to believe to succeed.

I know it sounds cheesy, but they need to change the narrative. Detroit can do this by starting the season 2-0. And I believe this is possible. They begin with two home games, first hosting the Philadelphia Eagles, and then playing the Washington Commanders. The Eagles and Commanders aren’t exactly at the top of anyone’s contenders’ list, and two conference wins would do wonders for the Lions if they are anywhere near the division leader and/or wild card race at the end of the season.

They can get these conference wins by building on their tenacity from last season. I say tenacity because their 3-13-1 record was bad, but they definitely at least showed up to play. They have the drive, they have bought into Dan Campbell, and their offseason has been effective. Drafting both Aidan Hutchinson and Jameson Williams in the first round was smart. Both can be impact players this year, and if Jared Goff can play effectively, the Lions should easily improve on last season. Assuming they can beat the Bears, they just need a little luck and positivity to be on their side.

The Bears Will Win The NFC North If…

The other three teams decide to tank. In all honesty, I can’t see the Bears even making the playoffs, but for the sake of playing by my own game’s rules, I’ll redo that first sentence. The Chicago Bears will win the NFC North if Justin Fields becomes a top 5 quarterback.

I do not think this is likely, especially since the Bears have not done anywhere near enough to help him out. However, I do think Fields has potential. If he can play at an epic level all of the time, he can potentially keep the Bears competitive. This, unfortunately, is asking way too much of a second-year QB, and in a more realistic post, I would probably say the Bears will be lucky to get five wins on the year.

Alright, Time For Some Real Talk

I do like the Lions to improve this season. They had some good pieces on defense last year, but not necessarily where it matters in the pass rush. If Aidan Hutchinson can make an impact, I do think the Lions can be more of a force in the NFC North. As for the Packers, it’s very hard to pick against them. Their defense was ninth overall in yards allowed per game, and they still look to be formidable even without Za’Darius Smith. David Bakhtiari is also most likely going to be back for most of this season, so if he helps Rodgers stay healthy and make plays, they have to be considered a threat to win the division again.

The Bears are going to be bad. If they aren’t, then an exorbitant amount of mediocre players will have played well above their current understood potential. And oh yeah, they’ll need their second-year quarterback to dominate behind a poor offensive line. Saving the best for last, I do like my Vikings to take the NFC North this year.

The Vikings have improved in all areas that were big deficiencies last season (i.e. CB, OG, EDGE, and Coaching). I don’t like to put all of the blame on Mike Zimmer, but the Vikings have a newfound enthusiasm early on in the Kevin O’Connell regime. The weapons they have on offense will allow them to compete in shoot-outs with anybody, and an improved defense will see them fare much better in one-possession games.

NFC North Standings Prediction

Spoiler: I am going to pick the Vikings. I think the loss of Davante Adams will hurt more than anyone in Green Bay will let on. I like the Lions to improve mightily, but I do not think Jared Goff can lead this team to a Super Bowl.

  1. Minnesota Vikings: 14-3. I have made this record prediction on podcasts and in Facebook groups. I stand by it. If we don’t get near this record, you can roast me if it makes you feel better after a poor season. But I remain confident!
  2. Detroit Lions: 9-8. Yep, I think they actually finish second, and if those NFC East tie-breaking wins help them out, they may even sneak into the playoffs.
  3. Green Bay Packers: 8-9. Aaron Rodgers will single-handedly win some games, but he will get burned by inexperience in his WR room. Their defense will be strained too far, and the Packers will suffer their first losing season since 2018.
  4. Chicago Bears: 4-13. I think this may be a generous win total. Either way, this season will most likely be one to forget for Bears fans. If I wasn’t a Vikings fan I would be very sad about the potential wasting of a year for a young, talented quarterback like Fields.

Who Do You Think Will Win The NFC North?

Let me know @Jlime8 on Twitter! Also, make sure you stay on Stadium Rant for coverage of all 32 NFL teams, and The Daily Skol for your Vikings-specific content. You can follow Stadium Rant on Twitter as well! Hang in there, folks, it’s almost Week 1!