Let’s highlight and break down one of 2023’s most competitive divisions. The NFC North is going to be extremely competitive this season. There were a number of key moves that were made in the offseason from player pickups to player releases to coordinator changes and so on and so forth. This division is going to be a dogfight and very interesting to pay attention to.
Breaking Down the NFC North Division
First, we will make our way to Vikings land where this team seems to be the favorite right now.
This team has arguably the best receiver in the NFL right today. Justin Jefferson has proved from the time he stepped on the field that he belongs and he is here to stay, but is that enough? The Vikings did not think so and that’s why they went out and drafted Jordan Addison in the first round of this year’s NFL draft. Addison should come in and take a lot of that attention off of Jefferson, since the release of aging veteran Adam Thielen who is now playing for the Panthers. Right now that seems to be just what the doctor ordered since teams were doubling up their efforts to take Justin Jefferson out of the game.
The Dalvin Cook saga seems to have ended for the Minnesota Vikings since he has just been released, but where he ends up is another story. The rumors right now are still Miami. This now opens the door for Alexander Mattison to be next in line to try to fill the big shoes of Mr. Cook. Mattison has shown time and time again that he can fill in for Cook, and has done so admirably when Cook was injured, but can Mattison fill those shoes for a full season is the question. Ty Chandler, a second-year player, and seventh-round pick, DeWayne McBride, are also there to help if called upon. Both players had great final years of their college careers.
Brian Flores has come in to fix that terrible defense from last season as defensive coordinator. He has a perfect resume, starting off as defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots in their last Super Bowl win, but they have lost their best pass rusher in Za’Darius Smith and also have a not-so-great secondary. Fixing this defense might be Flores’ biggest test yet but he is up to the task.
Next in the division is the Chicago Bears. Now the Bears have made a huge jump from last season to this season on paper, but will it be enough to take the division?
The team plans for Justin Fields to make a massive leap from last season to this season. With the upgrades on the offense, he has been given the talent to do so.
The Bears have a very formidable backfield with the additions of D’Onta Foreman and third-round rookie Roschon Johnson. Foreman has been a force since being given a second chance coming back from his early career Achilles injury. Johnson is a third-round rookie that would have started anywhere else but ended up playing behind the generational talent of Bijan Robinson. Alongside them is the longest-tenured Chicago Bear in the backfield Khalil Herbert, who has provided outstanding games in the absence of David Montgomery, who was recently lost to them in free agency.
Also, the additions of D.J. Moore, who was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Panthers to serve as the much-needed alpha in the wide receiver room, and fourth-round rookie speedster, Tyler Scott, will be there to help the development of Justin Fields. With massive upgrades to the offensive line and advancements in the defense, the Bears have definitely done their part in seeing to it they will be a problem in the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
Next up is the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay has probably made the biggest and most impactful move in this division: the loss of future Hall Of Famer Aaron Rodgers. His departure has given four-year veteran Jordan Love his opportunity to see if he can lead the Green Bay Packers to a divisional title.
Love has been playing behind Rodgers since he became a pro. We are going to find out this upcoming season if all of that waiting has paid off.
The running back room has pretty much remained the same. They drafted a running back in this year’s draft but he’s nothing more than a depth piece playing behind AJ Dillon, who is expected to have huge positive regression this year, and the explosive veteran, Aaron Jones.
The wide receiver room took a huge loss two years ago with the departure of Pro Bowler Davante Adams but has also shown great promise with the addition of rookie wideout Christian Watson. He made huge strides in his rookie year posting 41 receptions for 611 yards and seven touchdowns. He will more than likely be the number-one receiver for Love coming into this season. Watson has shown a lot of explosiveness in his rookie season and will hopefully take another big leap coming into this season.
Romeo Doubs had his moments as well last season. A very good possession receiver, he missed some games last season due to injury but he still had some pretty solid numbers in his rookie campaign, posting 42 receptions for 425 yards and three touchdowns. They have also drafted rookie wideout Jayden Reed in the second round of this year’s draft. He has posted pretty good numbers in all four years of his college career. He will be competing against Doubs for that number two option for Love this season, it’s going to be a pretty interesting competition.
The “cheeseheads” also drafted rookie tight end Luke Musgrave out of Oregan State 42nd overall in this year’s draft. He is a very good pass-catching tight end and will serve as a good option for Love. Keep in mind that he did suffer a season-ending injury in his final year that will potentially slow down his progress a little this year. Plus, the history of rookie tight ends shows us that it takes a while for them to develop, but we will see.
Last but definitely not least we have the Detroit Lions. The Lions have been at the bottom of this division for a good little while until last season when they made significant moves to make their team a very formidable contender in this division. It has been a long time coming for this team.
Since then comes Amon-Ra St. Brown, the firey wide receiver that has forced his way to the top of the wide receiver room from day one and has also become one of the elite wide receivers in the NFL. Last season, they also drafted the Alabama star field stretcher, Jameson Williams. If he can get on the field and stay on the field the team could possibly have a top 10 wide receiver duo. When he returns from his suspension, he will hit the ground running.
They continued with the addition of Iowa’s outstanding pass-catching tight end, Sam LaPorta, but, again, it normally takes a while for rookie tight ends. They did not stop there. Last year, they beefed up their defense by drafting Aidan Hutchinson, who produced 9.5 sacks in his rookie campaign. The running back room got a whole lot better this season with the addition of free agent David Montgomery and also the rookie star running back Jahmyr Gibbs from Alabama.
This division looks to be a dogfight within, with not one of them gaining much ground over the others. There will not be a clear separator between them and the way it looks nothing will be determined right away. All four teams are making the necessary moves they need to win, so we will have to see who will reign supreme in the NFC North.
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