2013 NFC North champions.
That sounds good if you’re a fan of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions or Minnesota Vikings. A team who wins the NFC North championship has had a quality regular season. They’ve probably won at least 10 games, performed well against their divisional opponents and beat a few Super Bowl contenders along the way.
It’s never meant much more than that. The NFC North was established in 2002. Since then, all 11 NFC North champions have failed to win a Super Bowl. The 2006 Chicago Bears are the only team who won an NFC Championship. The 2010 Green Bay Packers won their Super Bowl as a wild-card entrant.
Let’s head back even further. All of these teams were NFC Central representatives from 1970-2001. Only two of them—1985 Chicago Bears and 1996 Green Bay Packers—won a Super Bowl. The Lions haven’t won the division since 1993.
The Packers have won the division in each of the last two seasons. Can they make it a three-peat? Here are some NFC North predictions with the projected win totals for each team (International Business Times).
Green Bay Packers (10.5 Wins)
Have the Green Bay Packers improved enough defensively?
Everyone focuses on how Colin Kaepernick and other mobile quarterbacks dismantled Dom Capers’ scheme. The problem is that pocket quarterbacks have also ripped apart this defense in past playoff games (e.g. Kurt Warner, Eli Manning). The Packers had to play a wild-card game because their defense let Christian Ponder accumulate a 120.2 quarterback rating against them.
Another thing to consider is a brutal road schedule that includes four playoff teams from last season, a Thanksgiving Day game against the Detroit Lions, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, and a Week 17 matchup with the Chicago Bears. No cupcakes in that slate.
With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, the Packers will win at least 10 games. With that said, winning the NFC North won’t prove as simple as it has the last two seasons…. RECORD: 10-6
Chicago Bears (8.5 Wins)
Talk about a difficult team to predict. What can one expect from a Chicago Bears team that enters their first season under the supervision of Marc Trestman, a head coach who spent the last five years with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League? Combine that with a Brian Urlacher-less defense…
Despite the uncertainty, I’ve been impressed with what Phil Emery has done throughout his first two seasons. Emery is making the kind of tough decisions that a franchise has to make if they want to move beyond mediocrity. He didn’t let emotions get in the way with Lovie Smith or Urlacher. It was time to move on from them. Emery realized that.
Look for that Week 17 Bears vs. Packers matchup to serve as the de-facto NFC North championship game. They’ll fall just short—maybe. RECORD: 9-7
Detroit Lions (7.5 Wins)
Over 7.5 wins for a team who has accomplished that once since 2001? That’s pretty risky but this is a team who has a desperate coaching staff. Either go under or avoid this line. RECORD: 6-10
Minnesota Vikings (7 Wins)
How much can the Minnesota Vikings rely on Adrian Peterson? No running back has ever duplicated a 2,000-yard season. The Vikings lose one of their home games to London. Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel are easily the least established quarterbacks in this division.
Expect this team to drop back to third or fourth in the division. Depending on injuries and how quickly their first-round picks develop, expect somewhere between 5-8 wins. No division championship here. RECORD: 6-10
Sources: International Business Times
Image: Mike Morbeck, commons.wikimedia.org
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