NFC North 2020 Division Preview
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are a very well ran organization who are favorites to win the division, but I think they're pretenders when it comes to the super bowl race. In terms of the draft, they weren't looking to build on the current team, they were looking for the future. While Jordan Love could be a really good quarterback down the line, he doesn't help the team in 2020. The 49ers practically dismantled this team through the run game and they didn't make any big additions to help their run defense this offseason. They actually lost players. They should be solid in the regular season, they just didn't do anything to help themselves come playoff time. We know who Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones are. I'm curious to see if we'll see a new star emerge on this offense. Will Allen Lazard take that next step? Is AJ Dillon going to be a dominating presence in the run game? These are my big questions. If we look at the best teams in the conference offensively, the 49ers have depth guys who can make an impact. The Saints have a true number two receiver and a wildcard guy. I'm not sure if the Packers have the guy who can make that difference in the offense. They don't have that guy who can separate the 2019 Packers from the 2020 team. On the defense they have a dominate defensive line, I'd put them in the top 5. They just don't have the linebackers to stop a guy like Raheem Mostert or Dalvin Cook. There linebackers are one of the reasons why I don't consider the Packers a true contender. In the secondary they have ballers. I see Jaire Alexander being an all-pro player in 2020. That being said, there are just too many question marks on this team for me to consider them a true contender.
I'm going to start off with the Vikings by talking about their draft class. They got an A+ from me without a doubt, Minnesota absolutely nailed it. Justin Jefferson was my favorite player in the draft and was my number one ranked receiver. He was able to make those contested grabs better than any receiver in the draft. The only way to describe what he does after the catch is "he gets jiggy". He's got this swag and confidence similar to Odell Beckham Jr.. I think he'll have a similar rookie season to Odell and be a superstar right away. Jeff Gladney might be a little undersized but he's super aggressive and I describe him as "feisty". He plays with a chip on his shoulder. With Gary Kubiak at offensive coordinator, I'd like to see if he can increase Alexander Hamilton and Irv Smith's production. Both of those players have the potential to be huge break out stars. Defensively, Danielle Hunter is the player I'm watching. He's a guy who has the potential to break Michael Strahan's sack record every year. He's so damn good. I just feel like they can't be contenders until they get another guy who can get pressure on the quarterback. They lost both Everson Griffen and Linval Joseph, they're missing another presence. I know the Vikings don't run a lot of plays out of 11 personnel, but they're still missing that number three receiver. If Thielen or Jefferson gets hurt they need that "next man up". Overall, the Vikings have a really good starting lineup, but they aren't a deep enough roster to win the superbowl.
The Bears are a low floor, low ceiling team in my opinion. At most I see them being the Steelers of last year. Their defense is really talented. Khalil Mack is one of the most dominant players in the NFL. He's one of of those players that will completely alter an offensive coordinators game plan. Khalil Mack is the guy who the offensive coordinator is circling while watching film and who's presence is felt by just walking onto the field. Akiem Hicks is another guy who's just an absolute baller and Robert Quinn is a sleeper pickup that's going to make an impact. They don't have any big weaknesses on their defense when it comes to starters. They are a team that has a leader at all three phases of the defense. I don't trust Matt Nagy and he's a guy I wouldn't bet on, especially in an offseason like this. Their quarterback situation is really murky and I don't trust either of those guys. If I had to pick one guy that I prefer it's Nick Foles. I am willing to admit when I'm wrong, and I was wrong about Mitchell Trubisky. I really liked him coming out of the draft, but I understand that it's time the Bears move on. The three players I'm excited about on this offense are David Montgomery, Anthony Miller, and Cole Kmet. If the Bears want to rebuild on offense those are three guys I feel they could build around. The Bears have a ton of talent on this team, especially defensively. They just need to rebuild the quarterback and receiver position.
It feels like every division has that one team who can pick up some upset wins. For the NFC North it's the Lions. Matthew Stafford isn't a guy who will win you the super bowl, but he'll do very well statistically and will keep the Lions in almost every game. D'Andre Swift and Kerryon Johnson are both guys who deserve starting spots and the Lions should be a team that utilizes a lot of 21 personnel in 2020. TJ Hockenson is a player who I'm really excited about. I'm hoping he can take a similar year two leap as George Kittle and I want to see Kenny Golladay become more consistent this year. Golladay has some games where he looks like Julio Jones and others where he just completely disappears. He needs to have more of those Julio Jones type of games in 2020. Defensively their big acquisition was Jeff Okudah. Okudah was my favorite corner in the draft and was my highest rated corner I've ever seen coming out of college. Desmond Trufant is a solid veteran that'll play on the other side of him. Duron Harmon is a big pickup and will be the leader of the defense while Jamie Collins gives this team a defensive threat. I see the majority of the Lions wins coming from inside their division, but this team isn't good enough to keep up with actual contenders. It's put up or shut up time for Matt Patricia, I just feel like they're missing that extra playmaker on offense. The Lions are going to lose a lot of one score games this year and coach Patricia will be on the hot seat after this season's over.