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NFL season preview 2016: NFC North

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This is the 2016 NFL Season Preview of the NFC North. The division labeled as the “Black and Blue” division has had everyone at the top before. The Packers have dominated the division lately, but it’s called that division for a reason. The defending division champions took a big blow a couple of days ago when Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season. That changes the complexion of the division. With that said, let’s get to the previews for the upcoming season.

Chicago Bears

The Bears are in the weird position of not being bad enough to get a top 5 pick, but not good enough to get into the playoffs. They let RB Matt Forte got to the New York Jets and replaced him with Jeremy Langford. Their starting QB Jay Cutler still has 1 of the best arms in the league, but it’s his head that has always been questioned. They have switched to a 3-4 defense this year. They are hoping that the switch will reignite the monsters of the midway.

This may be one of those situations where they won’t get terribly better until they get terribly worse. Their biggest hope on offense will lie with their WR duo of Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. Unfortunately, the Bears are one of those teams where they will never be picked to win the divisions, but they also will not be picked to be last. That’s not a good position to be in.

Last Year Record 6-10
Vegas Win Prediction 7
My Prediction 6-10

Detroit Lions

Obviously, the biggest story of Lions’ offseason was the loss of one of the franchise’s best players all time, Calvin Johnson, due to his sudden retirement. The Lions replaced “Megatron” with the signing of Marvin Jones to pair on the outside with Golden Tate, but right now, they just need to get more talent on the field.

The Lions still have an above average defensive line, but their offensive line leaves a lot to be desired. They are a lot like the Bears in that they have too much on their team to be terrible, but they also don’t have enough to be excellent. QB Matthew Stafford will once again have the weight of the team on his shoulders, and like previous times, most do not expect him to take them where they want to go.

Last Year Record 7-9
Vegas Win Prediction 7
My Prediction 7-9

Green Bay Packers – It’s pretty easy to pick the Green Bay Packers to win the division every year. Until last year when lost to Minnesota in week 17, they had won 4 straight division titles and 7 of the last 14 division races. The combination of Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers can do that to a division. Injuries broke the team down last year, starting with their #1 WR Jordy Nelson. Other WRs tried to fill in for the man they call “White Lightning”, but none can duplicate his production.

RB Eddie Lacy seems to have slimmed down. Their defense appears to be at least on par with a top 10 to top 15 defenses in the league. The Packers have no excuse this year. They should roll to their usually 10-12 wins and scare every defensive coordinator they face. Rodgers should be delighted to have his full receiving group back together, and the question that will come up is if their defense is enough to hold up in critical situations late in the 4th. If they can, this team can get all the way to the Superbowl.

Last Year Record 10-6
Vegas Win Prediction 11
My Prediction 11-4

Minnesota Vikings – Now we move to the sad part of the day as we are talking about the devastating injury that will sideline Viking QB Teddy Bridgewater for the entire 2016 season. Bridgewater, in practice, suffered a torn ACL and a dislocated knee. It was a gruesome injury that left his teammates to pray beside him and for an ambulance and trauma unit to come out to tend to the QB. Bridgewater was well respected around the league, and everyone has been giving him support.

Regarding football, the Bridgewater injury was a big blow to a team that won the division, has a great defense, and a great RB in Adrian Peterson. Bridgewater wasn’t going to sit back there and throw 30 times a game, but his leadership is the part they will miss the most. Shaun Hill will not be at the helm, and the Vikings may be struggling their way to .500 when all is said and done.

Last Year Record 11-5
Vegas Win Prediction 7
My Prediction 8-8

Can the young Bears shock the world and get back into the playoffs? Will the Lions be able to replace what they are losing in Calvin Johnson? Will the Packers be back at the top of the NFL world, as they were in 2010? Are the Vikings going to be able to recover emotionally from the loss of their on-field leader? All of these questions will be answered during the 2016 NFL Season.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com