1. Green Bay Packers
The Packers have been the class of the NFC North since 2010, the last time they did not win the division. Last season, the Packers lost an absolute heartbreaker to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game. However, this year, they have returned all of their key offensive players, Aaron Rodgers, Eddy Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, and Davante Adams. As long as the group remains healthy, they should be one of the three best offenses in football. On the defensive side of the ball, the Packers lost corner back Tramon Williams, but return BJ Raji and drafted Jake Ryan and Damarious Randall. If the Packers want to win the Super Bowl, which is certainly a possibility, they must return to forcing turnovers and become a top flight defensive unit.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Last season, the Vikes showed significant improvement and their momentum should carry over to this season. The Vikings’ offense will be the biggest question mark for the team this season. Last season, they ranked toward the bottom of the league, but they should significantly progress due to the experience of Teddy Bridgewater, return of Adrian Peterson, and the addition of Mike Wallace. The Vikes will be built around their strength, which is their defense. The Vikings have talent all over the defense, like Xavier Rhodes, Harry Smith, Trae Waynes, Shariff Floyd, Anthony Barr, and Everson Griffin. The combination should lead the Vikings to fight for a playoff spot.
3. Detroit Lions
Last year, the Lions had one of their most successful seasons in years, but this season will decide if they are the same old Lions or a team that can harness their talent. On offense, they should improve with a healthy Megatron. In addition, the running game should significantly enhance the offense because Laken Tomlinson will better the line and Ameer Abdullah has home run talent. On defense, the Lions have to answer many questions without Suh or Fairley in the middle of the D-Line. If the Lions are going to pick up where they left off, they need improvement from Haloti Ngata and Ezekiel Ansah.
4. Chicago Bears
If the Chicago Bears cannot shock analysts, they may be fighting with other teams for one of the worst records in the league. On offense, they have the possibility to be dynamic, but it will all hinged on the play of Jay Cutler. If Cutler plays like last season, the Bears’ offense will be extremely frustrating and worse than last season, especially without Brandon Marshall and possibly Kevin White out for the season. On defense, the Bears are no longer the Monsters of the Midway. If the unit can even play at an average level, many will be surprised.