The potential is there but so is Aaron Rodgers
This week we are traveling to the underwhelming NFC North in my article series “Keys To The Division” where I pick the most important factor that is going to determine each teams success. I’m not particularly excited to talk about the NFC North because we already know what’s going to happen and that’s why I am getting it out of the way now.
I can safely assume that the Packers will win the division, the Vikings will make it look like they are on a roll for 6 weeks then fall off, the Bears will have a few decent games but still won’t really be able to put it all together and the Lions will end up a complete non-factor. Of course, this is football and you just never know what’s going to happen so while my NFC North shake out is very likely to go as planned this is still the NFL and you know, any given Sunday and all of that.
Let’s get to it
Green Bay Packers
Key To The Division: Special Teams and Rich Bisaccia
I know there is concern about the Packers WR’s but really Aaron Rodgers is so good he can make it work with anyone. Davante Adams was not the be all end all for this team in terms of receivers and their roster is shaping up to be a defensive and run heavy squad which is not typical for this team. The Packers really need to get a grip on their Special Teams situation which was ranked dead last in the league last season. Every week the special teams unit made mistake after mistake which eventually lead to big mistakes that cost the Packers their season. The Packers special teams unit is consistently bad and they know it which is why they went out and hired Rich Bisaccia. If the Packers want any shot at the Super Bowl they have got to get rid of the liability that is their special teams.
Key To The Division: Offensive Line
This team is way too talented to be this mediocre and almost all of it starts with the offensive line. Kirk Cousins and his political views aside, is not a bad QB it’s just that all we see him do is throw passes into the ground because of the quick pressure up the middle. I’m sick of seeing it so I know the fans have got to be sick of it too. We always preach on 3rd and 3 Podcast that games are won in the trenches and that’s because it’s true. The Vikings offense is virtually unchanged, and they have been adding pieces to their defense which also needed some work. Yes, they have a new head coach in Kevin O’Connell but again if your offensive line sucks it almost doesn’t matter who is playing QB behind them or on the sidelines calling the plays. If the Vikings can play up to their potential on a consistent basis they can give the Packers a real run for their money.
Key To The Division: Luke Getsy
The Bears new and first time Offensive Coordinator must deliver BIG TIME. It is probably unfair and a little bit extreme to say this is make it or break it for the Bears but am I really that far off base? The direction of this franchise is solely resting on Justin Fields and his potential and it’s Luke Getsy’s job to pull that potential out of Justin Fields. According to an interview Getsy gave NBC Sports Chicago he believes his system will enable their WR’s to be productive and become a standout group in the league. Getsy has sung the praises of Justin Fields and how much he is impressed by Fields work ethic and preparedness. It’s nice to see this working relationship has started off with mutual respect and everyone has their eyes on the prize. Chicago’s defense was ranked 5th in the league last season so if the offense can start putting it together this team has major upside potential.
Key To The Division: Health
The buzz around Detroit is a positive and exciting one. The club and their fans are filled with hope, optimism and some fans have even gone as far to say this team could be playoff bound this season. They are comparing this team to the 2014 Lions team. You know, the 2014 team that won 11 games had Matt Stafford at QB, Megatron and Pro Bowl players like Golden Tate and Ndamukong Suh. I mean, you gotta love fandom. You really do. I appreciate the optimism but being a realist, myself lets dial it back a bit. First off, Jared Goff is no Matt Stafford and he needs to prove he can be productive with out Sean McVay which so far he’s proven he can’t. Let me remind everyone that the Lions won 3 games last season….3 games! So, for this team to go from 3 wins to 11 wins is a QUANTAUM LEAP of epic proportions that I don’t even think my co-host Damian Adams would endorse with his annual Quantum Leap pick. On paper, the offense is stacked, and Goff can be decent if the offense is tailored to his strengths (what a concept!) the defense is questionable, but they are deep and, in this conference, they don’t really need to be world beaters. Can I see more than 3 wins? Sure. I might go as far to say 6 or 7. Just enough to get a little hype going. My main concern here is this team’s ability to stay healthy. Detroit often has key players out for significant amounts of time and some little bang-ups have already happened with offseason activities. For the fans sake I sure hope a decent season is on the horizon.
Final NFC North Thoughts
Yawn. I want to be excited about the NFC North. I really do. I just can’t get myself jazzed up for this division though. Not yet anyway. Maybe around November if all goes well. There are plenty of sports media personalities out there saying the NFC North is shaping up to be pretty competitive across the board but I’m not buying it. This is an underwhelming division of late and I can already predict the outcome of it in June. I hope this division can live up to its potential and the Vikings, Bears and Lions can give the Packers some competition throughout the season however if we go based on history we might as well punch the Packers ticket to the NFC Championship game now.
So, what about you guys? Are any of you hyped up for the NFC North or are you just as underwhelmed about this division as I am? Leave your thoughts in the comments or let me know on social media @nikkinic9384 on all platforms!