NFC North could be tough

The Green Bay Packers and the rest of the NFL are now three weeks into training camp and all appears to be well. So it’s time to forget about the virus for a while and focus on the actual football. This should be an interesting year for the Packers as defending NFC North champions. They will certainly will have a target on their chest after going 6-0 in the division last year.

The Packers didn’t exactly dominate the division last year, all wins were close games. In fact, the Packers didn’t lead the Lions for one second of either game but won both on last play of the game. And the battles with the Vikings and Bears were extremely hard fought wins. This year could be more of the same. Nobody saw the Packers coming out of nowhere last year so it could happen again, if you think you know who that might be then might be worth a visit. Make a little coin this year.

The Packers clearly have the best quarterback of the division and it’s not really close. The second best is the Vikings’ Kirk Cousins, followed by Mathew Stafford and bringing up the rear as usual, the quarterback who plays in Chicago. For the time being that is Mitchell Trubisky. Rodgers should be even better in his second year under head coach Matt LeFleur and early reports are he is looking good and in a great frame of mind.

Rodgers and Cousins won playoff games last year while Stafford got hurt and Trubisky regressed. I see the same order playing out this year with Stafford coming off injury and Trubisky likely to be replaced by Nick Foles. Edge to the Packers big time.

I think the Vikings will probably once again be the Packers’ biggest challenge for the division title. They have been consistently good under head coach Mike Zimmer, and have gone to one NFC Championship game. There was talk Zimmer might have been gone last offseason but instead they re-upped him. They always have a good defense and Dalvin Cook is one of the best running backs in football. Will be quite a challenge for the Packers on opening day in Minnesota.

The Bears did manage to finish 8-8 last year despite Trubisky’s struggles. I think they will be right around .500 again this year. I’m just not a big fan of their head coach Matt Nagy. He was a reach for head coach after limited experience as an offensive coordinator. He was also the architect of one of the worst meltdowns in playoff history when his Chiefs blew a 21-3 lead to the Titans in the 2017 wild card playoffs.

The Bears’ defense is still good, though, so they will still be in games despite the play of their quarterback(s). The team I think will make some noise this year is the Detroit Lions. I have no real case to make for them, I just have a hunch. The Lions were 3-4-1 when Stafford went down and never won another game.

But while they didn’t win another game, they only got blown out once and fought the Packers to the bitter end despite having lost eight games in a row coming in. Not to mention they were starting a third string quarterback. This is a make or break year for Lions’ whole organization. Another losing season and both GM and coach may be gone.

I think in the end the Packers are the best team in the division and will repeat as champions. The Packers’ defense is improving and the offense will as well in the second year of LeFleur’s offense. While it very well may not mean a real home field advantage because of no fans, it still would be nice to play games in Lambeau in January. I think the Packers are the team to beat in the North.

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