NFL 2016: Early NFC North Thoughts


Purple People Eaters

Minnesota had a very good season and proved me right by winning the NFC North. Adrian Peterson looked great after sitting out the year before. I really don’t have any reason to believe that he’ll slow down, drastically at least. Laquon Treadwell is the first round pick that is expected to make an immediate impact with Norv Turner calling the shots, doing what he does best. Maybe we see Teddy Bridgewater take another step forward, maybe not. But that Mike Zimmer defense only allowed the 5th fewest points last season. There’s a reason they extended safety Harrison Smith. I’m a big fan of their front-7, especially the potential that their linebacking core has. They were only one and done in the postseason because of a missed chip shot field goal. A.P. should eat a lot more yards in 2016. The defense looks to improve upon ranking 7th in sacks by feasting on some more O-lines.

Cheese-Headed Towards Dead End?

Are the Green Bay Packers headed towards a dead end? Who doesn’t appreciate Jordy Nelson? It sounds a little scary to rely on a 31-year-old wide receiver coming off a serious knee injury. Even though I was never on the Eddy Lacy bandwagon, it is good news that he shed some necessary weight. That won’t win me over, however, and I can’t ignore his work ethic up to this point. Aaron Rodgers is great, but his protection is a tad too hyped up. The defense is never considered elite or anything like that. What they have is fast players on each level, but if they can’t stop the run when it counts, the time of possession won’t be in their favor and that means that Rodgers is watching from the sideline.

Monsters of the Midway Sequel in the Making?

Chicago is in the middle of rebuilding, retooling, however you want to put it. The new regime enters their second season. Whether Alshon Jeffery plays under the franchise tag or gets a long-term extension, he will continue to suit up for the Bears this season. Last year’s first round pick Kevin White is finally full-go. Drift away form the flashy position for a second. Head Coach John Fox is a defensive-minded coach that has tasted success. So has defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, and I like that duo running things together. I also love the fact that they signed Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman to start side-by-side as the inside linebackers. The Bears have emphasized their front-7. They may be going through some growing pains with a young secondary, but they’ve assembled a group that can apply constant pressure, and they’re led by some veterans in the middle that have a chip on their shoulders.

No-Motor City?

Calvin Johnson decided to cape off his Megatron cape and call it a career, and a great one it was. Matthew Stafford is left with a conservative head coach, inexperienced offensive coordinator, and really, just a bunch of guys. Now, I understand that targets can stretch the field but there is much to prove without Johnson being featured and commanding defensive attention. Stafford’s protection has been rocky and the same can be said for trying to keep the football on the ground. I’m not sure if the backfield talent is drafted to solely catch footballs, or if Stafford finally learned how to check down instead of forcing a pass that gets picked off. I also can’t tell you that I’m optimistic about the defense that was elite just a couple of seasons ago. The Lions did make two playoff runs in the past 5 years, but those are the only two winning seasons for them in the last 15 years.