Around the NFC North: Doomsville

Let's get negative. 

A while back, before the draft, I wrotre about the worst case scenario (for Packers fans) for each NFC North team. Basically, what would have to happen for them to be as good as possible. This week, we're going to have more fun and talk about what could sink each of the inferior NFC North teams. Starting with a team that still sucks.

Bears

Stop me if you've heard this before: the Bears have a rookie QB who was drafted really high and they're pairing him with a likely lame duck head coach, new offensive coordinator and some expensive pieces on offense. Sure it could work (in Madden), but what happens when the team is 2-5 and the fan base is clamoring for Brett Rypien or whoever the backup is? Pairing mostly failed head coaches with rookie QBs who cost so much draft capital that they can't be benched very rarely works. 

Let's say Caleb Williams is an above average rookie QB and the Bears ownership gives Eberflus the rope to develop him, the defense could still be pretty meh pretty easily.

The defense took off last season thanks to a combination of factors: Eberflus took over running it after some weird FBI rumors may or may not have caused the defensive coordinator to quite, they traded for Montez Sweat and Jaylon Johnson was the best corner in the league. Eberflus is back but Eric Washington will be running the defense and what's more likely: Montez Sweat and Jaylon Johnson can be the backbone of a top-5 defense or the Bears caught lightning in a bottle last year with Johnson in a contract year and Sweat playing a little better than his typical ceiling? 

Vikings

The Vikings are easy. They drafted a guy who passed on half his snaps in college at QB, their defense was already bad at the end of the year and their offensive weapons (outside the best wide receiver in football, admittedly) consist of a disappointing small wide receiver, an overpaid tight end, a running back who chose losing and Brandon Powell. They also have a horrific interior o-line. 

It's just not hard to see the Vikings taking a step back this year. They had some momentum going last year with Kirk Cousins and a gimmicky defense but then Cousins tore his achilles and the defense was figured out. Now baby Kirk Cousins and the next evolution of the defense (featuring several free agent acquisitions who are all worse than Danielle Hunter) are coming to a dome near you. It's enough to make you cringe, but not enough to make me nervous. That's for sure. 

Lions

The Athletic NFL pod did a draft of NFL head coaches this week and though Matt LaFleur was chosen third, he was (justifiably) criticized for hanging onto coordinators for too long -- he should've fired Joe Barry a season earlier, they said. LaFleur gets that criticism a lot and he should, but you never hear criticism for Dan Campbell sticking with Aaron Glenn after another year and another mediocre defense. 

Glenn was the Saints defensive backs coach for five years and for the past three he has tried to port that scheme onto the Lions. The Saints are famous for lifting up meh players -- Paulson Adebo had a top-15 grade last year and Montravius Adams had a few pretty good years there, just to name a few ex-Packers. The Lions (though you could probably say this about any Lions team over the past 65 years) are famous for having meh players on defense. 

Maybe next year will be the year that Glenn's defense clicks with Lions players, but it's more likely that Campbell will finally be forced to part ways with his old friend. 

On the offensive side, it's all about the o-line. If Penei Sewell goes down and everyone realizes that Kevin Zeitler is like 52 years old, those goofy misdirection run play highlights are going to come after Jared Goff panicked and threw three picks in a quarter.      

 

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Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan who recently moved form Utah to Stoughton (a Madison suberb). You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.

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Comments (21)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Bearmeat's picture

June 13, 2024 at 03:16 pm

It's annual HYPE SZN all around the league and it's annoying AF.

The Lions are everyone's darlings, even though they shouldn't be. Jared Goof is a mirror of the talent around him and no more. They have no WR depth. They have no OL depth. And they are depending on also rans and rookies in the secondary. Again.

Even Vikings fans think this will be a difficult year. In reality, their path to a top 5 pick (that they won't have LOL) is there for the taking. Jones will get hurt. Their interior OL is garbage. They have no quality across the defense. They have a rookie QB. WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!?!

The Bears? Man, their fanbase is soooo tiring. EVERY DAMN OFFSEASON... Williams will be meh with upside this year at best. Keenan will get hurt again. And while their defense was good last year, they are WILDLY due for turnover regression this year. Oh, and they have a dead man walking (like you said) at HC Again.... WHAT COULD GO WRONG?!?

The Packers have their reaches. Lots of youth and a new system on defense first among them. But, other than X and Jacobs, they've once again been quiet in the offseason. They won't be in the NFL season. We are going to walk away with the division and be a true Super Bowl threat. I think we can win it all.

I can't wait for the NFCN tears.

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WorseWisconsin's picture

June 14, 2024 at 02:35 pm

"Lions are everyone's darlings, even though they shouldn't be"

Well, there are a few reasons to think they're better than the Packers...

1: They did beat you in a game last season (1-1);
2: They did win the division last season;
3: They went further into the playoffs than the Packers;
4: They beat GB in the final game of '22, denying GB a playoff berth;

If I were a Packer fan, I'd be concerned about the Lions, and terrified of the 49ers (at this point, it's a fact that the 49ers completely own the Packers).

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 14, 2024 at 02:57 pm

or, we could simply look at the history of the last 40 or so years and rest easy.

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HarryHodag's picture

June 13, 2024 at 04:17 pm

Sorry, I won't take the bait. Each season I predict all the teams in the NFC North will have 3-3 records within the division but this year it could become a reality.

The Lions are clearly going to be good again, the Packers will be good again, the Bears are going to be better and the Vikings won't be as bad as predicted. All these teams know each other very well. No surprises.

The difference will be the record outside the division.

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stockholder's picture

June 13, 2024 at 04:24 pm

Very Good Harry.

Excellent!

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LLCHESTY's picture

June 13, 2024 at 06:28 pm

⬆️YIKES!

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cdoemel's picture

June 13, 2024 at 09:52 pm

Oh hell no! 5-1

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Cheezehead72's picture

June 14, 2024 at 06:05 am

The Vikings are that bad. They will be lucky to win 7 games.

The Bears can be good but I do not see them going 3-3 in the division.

It is the Lions and Packers to win.

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BruceC1960's picture

June 13, 2024 at 05:32 pm

I look forward to seeing if Caleb Williams can succeed in the pocket. I don’t think he is the next Mahomes. Closer to the next Manziel. Also curious to see how he handles adversity. He is a pouter. Will make some highlight reel plays for sure. Can he lead when things go bad?

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barutanseijin's picture

June 13, 2024 at 07:51 pm

I’ve seen a team win a super bowl with a pouty QB who was a loner more than a leader.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 13, 2024 at 11:58 pm

wait a minute, Jay Cutler never won a super bowl

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BruceC1960's picture

June 14, 2024 at 07:09 am

Very true.

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WorseWisconsin's picture

June 14, 2024 at 02:17 pm

"a pouty QB who was a loner"

That's pretty clearly a reference to The NFL version of what MLB fans call "Mr. September"; someone who plays great in the regular season but isn't a leader or clutch post-season. Aaron Rodgers.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

June 13, 2024 at 08:58 pm

He got beat by our seventh round pick!

And ... da Bares still suck.

GPG!!

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 13, 2024 at 05:54 pm

see also: history

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calabasa's picture

June 14, 2024 at 11:52 am

“A running back who chose losing”

Thanks for that laugh.

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WorseWisconsin's picture

June 14, 2024 at 02:30 pm

"the Bears have a rookie QB...Eberflus..." [etc]

1: I'll give you that on Eberflus. He's not far removed from the fanbase screaming for his head. He's still very unproven as a HC. As a DC (in combination with the Sweat trade) last year, he clawed back some credibility. '24 will need to be a good year for him and the team; a winning record and at-least-average offense performance will save him, less than that his 'hotseat' is a volcano.

2: The Bears did what they never did in previously-drafted high-round QBs: actually BUILT around the rookie to give him a good opportunity for success. Is success assured? No. Could the rookie end up failing, regardless of what's around him? Sure. But the didn't-try-to-setup-the-rookie-for-success narrative doesn't apply this time.

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Bitternotsour's picture

June 14, 2024 at 02:58 pm

keep telling yourself that

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GregC's picture

June 14, 2024 at 03:04 pm

Do you think the Bears gave just as good of a supporting cast to Justin Fields as they did to Caleb Williams?

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Leatherhead's picture

June 14, 2024 at 05:42 pm

I don't think the Bears think of it that way. The Bears strategy, since I can remember (and I can remember back to Halas) is to play good defense and make teams drive the ball, and to try to make some special teams plays, and on offense run the ball well. That's the Chicago way. The QB has to just not screw things up, and the coach has to win with him. That appears to be their general team strategy, and you can see how well it's worked over the past 50 years.

But they keep investing these high picks in QBs , when they could get the guy they need in the 3rd round. Cutler was two first round picks. Trubisky. Fields. And then they just throw them in the fire and let them make costly mistakes. Listen....get a vet who won't turn it over, and hand it off a lot. You'll win games. You won't win enough to be a perennial playoff team, but you'll be able to give a lot of teams some tough games. Let your superduper rookie QB learn for a year or two before he gets thrown into it.

The Bears scored 27 or more points and went 5-1. But they simply had too many games where the offense couldn't get past 20. Ten times....over half the season,and they went 2-8. They also held ten teams to 20 or less. They were close last year. They were 0-2 against the Packers but 7-8 against everybody else, just like the Packers were 2-0 against the Bears and 7-8 against everybody else.

For the Record, I would not have traded Fields away. The dude is younger than Love. I'd have traded down in the draft and put some really good players around him. Then, if he gets injured or just doesn't play well, I still have the other really good players and I'll draft a QB next year. But my suspicion is that if you put better talent around Fields, the Bears would win 10 games. Williams is going to have to go through a learning curve that Fields had already gone through.

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TheTaxiSquad's picture

June 17, 2024 at 01:55 am

I’m fine with the Bears continuing to ruin rookie quarterbacks instead of figuring out how to develop them. But I do feel bad for the player.

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