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NFL Kickoff: The 2020 NFC North

Are you ready to rumble? The teams in the NFC North sure are. This may be one of, if not the toughest division to predict the outcome of this year. There is a realistic possibility that any one of these 4 teams could come out on top.

Lambeau Field by Mike Morbeck is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

NFL Kickoff: The 2020 NFC North

Estimated Reading Time: 6 Minutes

The status of the 2020 NFL Season seemed to hang in the air, drifting wide of the uprights for months. As we all watched with bated breath as the league hurdled towards disaster, the league sat back and came up with a plan of changes to ensure that players and coaches remain safe and healthy.

The NFL miraculously split the uprights and now we’re playing football in 2020.

So we’re looking at each of the NFL divisions and diving into how they fit into the new NFL landscape and how they’ve spent the offseason prepping for a run at the Lombardi trophy this season.

Let’s dive right in and talk about the NFC North.

Are you ready to rumble? The teams in the NFC North sure are. This may be one of, if not the toughest division to predict the outcome of this year. There is a real possibility that any one of these 4 teams could come out on top. Well, maybe 3 of them could and the Bears are there too.

The Detroit Lions – 3-12-1 in 2019

Ok, so admittedly I am no NFL Analyst but boy oh boy as a Lions fan I feel this sentiment and this twitter thread DEEPLY. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before but the Lions could actually pose a legitimate threat this year. Matthew Stafford is healthy again and that’s really the biggest thing working in the Lions favor. Providing he stays healthy he could easily be on track to repeat the potentially record breaking season he was on pace for before his back injury sidelined him and sent the team on a massive downward spiral. Plus, they got rid of their sub par strength and conditioning staff after players started dropping like flies so that’s promising.

Sure they’ve lost some big pieces such as Darius Slay Jr, James Harrison, and Graham Glasgow but for once they really used their many draft picks well. At least on paper. Top pick Jeff Okudah should be NFL ready and the promise of the tag team of Kerryon Johnson and De’Andre Swift should provide a relief when Matty-Nice doesn’t feel like dropping bombs to Golladay, Jones Jr, Hockensen, or the newly transitioned Jamal Agnew.

Defense could prove to still be their weak point as it has the past few years. Head coach Matt Patricia really hasn’t delivered as the defensive specialist that was promised but he has officially handed over the play calling reins to new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin.

Most importantly, the Lions were the first team in the NFL to cancel practice in favor of a team meeting after the tragic shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI. There’s a unity to this team that is coming from the top down that I’ve rarely ever seen in this organization. And it makes me excited. Well, excited and scared.

The Chicago Bears – 8-8 in 2019

Well the Bears still have a good defense, right? And a somewhat compelling competition for starting quarterback with the addition of Nick Foles? So that’s something. Chicago didn’t make many waves in this year’s draft but did add Jimmy Graham and Ted Ginn to their attacking core.

It doesn’t look too optimistic for the Bears to finish in the top 2 of the division even with their top tier defense. The offense, even if Foles were to take over at QB and have a run like he did in Philly, still doesn’t have enough weapons to really pose a threat to the rest of the teams in the division. Not to mention their Offensive coaching staff is essentially all new. That’s a big learning curve for a shortened offseason and no preseason games. Their strength of schedule is right around the middle of the pack but look for them to finish right around the .500 mark if not a few games under this year.

The Minnesota Vikings – 10-6 in 2019

The Vikings might have the most to lose in the division. They made an impressive playoff run all the way up to the NFC Championship where they ran into eventual Super Bowl runners-up in San Francisco. And Kirk Cousins finally proved that he could win a playoff game.

While the core of the team is still fairly strong they did have some big losses with Stefon Diggs’ departure to Buffalo, Everson Griffen headed to Dallas, and Dalvin Cook’s contract and playing status very much up in the air. But they recently landed Yannick Ngakoue from Jacksonville to pad up their pass rush. And they narrowly avoided losing DT Riley Reiff due to salary cap reasons.

The Vikings had an impressive 15 draft picks this year but it still remains to be seen if they will be NFL ready or even necessary to use once the season begins. And they are in the top 10 in terms of strength of schedule so it could be an uphill battle. I’m just hoping that they will do well enough to preserve the sanity of one of my favorite people. Realistically they end up 2nd or 3rd. That is, if Kirk Cousins survives as one of the fittest.

The Green Bay Packers – 13-3 in 2019

The Packers have sat atop this division for literally as long as I can remember. And despite lucking into some wins last year they really didn’t change much in terms of team structure. So it could really be another case of that this year seeing as they also sit somewhere right in the middle in terms of strength of schedule.

Despite his pleas for some offensive weapons the Pack instead drafted up to grab Rodgers’ future replacement in Jordan Love. So despite appearances of cordialness the rest of the division should be scared of playing against an Aaron Rodgers with a massive chip on his shoulder. There are few things scarier in this world tbh.

OH ok, sure A-Aron.

But with no other real changes, it’s hard to expect less than a first place finish. But the Petty Betty in me is hoping for less.

Division Winner:

Do I have to say it loud? I really don’t want to. Fine. The Green Bay Packers.

JUST KIDDING!!! I just chugged a whole pint of Honolulu Blue Kool-Aid and am ready to proclaim the Detroit Lions as NFC North Champs. We haven’t seen this kind of parity across the division in a very long time and it’s really anyone’s guess as to who will or could come out on top.

It’s 2020. Crazier things have happened.

An actor by degree, sports lover by day, and a bartender by night. As a native of suburban Detroit it took moving to NYC for Katie to fully realize her love of all things Michigan and Detroit sports. Feel free to engage her in her love of the coolest city and prettiest state in the country and why she will always root for Ohio State to lose every sporting event ever. No, really I am dead serious about that last statement.

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