- Green Bay Packers
It won’t be easy at all for the Packers to win the division, but I believe that they made the necessary changes to win the NFC North in 2019. The Packers offense was never much of a problem with quarterback Aaron Rodgers leading the way. The team didn’t do much to surround him with talent on offense this offseason, but he still has Davante Adams and Jimmy Graham as really good weapons in the passing game. Meanwhile, the defense was the main issue last season and that will likely be better after the big additions made this offseason. The Packers pass rush wasn’t very good last season and they addressed that problem during free agency as they signed Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith to massive contracts. Both players are likely being overpaid, but at least the Packers pass rush should be much improved in 2019. Also, the Packers also added some much needed stability to their defensive line when they selected Rashan Gary in the 1st round. Green Bay also added safety Adrian Amos in free agency which should add some experience to a really young and unproven secondary. Green Bay will be a new-look team in 2019 especially on defense and that is what should allow them to be a playoff team once again.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota was a major disappointment last season as they didn’t even make the playoffs. However, there is no denying the talent that Minnesota has on their roster and they could even win this division if all goes well. The Vikings have plenty of talent on offense especially with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs forming arguably the best receiver duo in the NFL. Also, the Vikings have a really good running back with Dalvin Cook and a good quarterback with Kirk Cousins. That being said, the main thing holding back the Vikings offense was the offensive line. However, that should be improved this season with the addition of Josh Kline in free agency and the selection of center Garrett Bradbury in the 1st round of the draft. Minnesota’s offense wasn’t bad last season, but the Vikings offense could be much better if the offensive line improves. Meanwhile, the Vikings defense has a chance to be really good in 2019 because they have talent at basically every position. Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen have the ability to form a dynamic pass rushing duo. Also, the combination of Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks at linebacker really solidifies that area of the defense. Finally, the Vikings secondary has a legitimate claim to be the best secondary in the NFL as they have Harrison Smith, Xavier Rhodes, and Trae Waynes leading the way. There is no doubt that Minnesota has enough talent to be a playoff contender and if they can live up to that potential then it is very possible that they could win the NFC North.
3. Chicago Bears
The Bears aren’t a bad team by any stretch, but they unfortunately play in a really tough division in 2019. There is no doubt that the Bears have the defense to compete with any team in the NFL, but the offense is what could hold the team back. The Bears do have a good young quarterback with Mitchell Trubisky and a good offensive line led by Charles Leno and Kyle Long. However, the Bears don’t have too much talent at the skill positions especially after they traded away starting running back Jordan Howard this offseason. The Bears signed running back Mike Davis and selected running back David Montgomery in the 3rd round of the draft. Maybe those guys can fill the void at running back, but I doubt that either guy will be an upgrade over Howard. Meanwhile, the Bears aren’t really any better at the wide receiver position. Sure, the Bears added Riley Ridley in the 4th round of the draft, but he likely won’t make much of an impact right away. Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller, and Taylor Gabriel all have plenty of talent. However, the problem is that all three are very inconsistent and none should be a number one receiver on an NFL team. Overall, the Bears offense didn’t improve that much this offseason and that could be a problem if they are as inconsistent as they were last season. Meanwhile, the Bears defense was absolutely dominant last season and it appears like it’ll be the same this season. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hicks is a dominant pass rushing duo while the Bears also have talent at linebacker with Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan. Finally, the Bears secondary did suffer a key departure when Adrian Amos left for Green Bay, but the Bears adequately filled the void by signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in free agency. Also, the Bears have a couple of really good players in the secondary with cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson. The Bears defense will be expected to carry the team just like they did last season. If they can accomplish that goal then the team has a really good chance of winning the division again. However, the Bears offense is a liability and the team just doesn’t have the amount of depth that the Packers and Vikings have.
4. Detroit Lions
Detroit isn’t a bad team, but they are clearly the worst team in the division since they clearly don’t have the talent to match the Bears, Packers, or Vikings. That being said, the Lions do have some room for optimism especially on offense. They have a good quarterback with Matthew Stafford and he has a few good receivers to throw to as well. Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and Danny Amendola form an underrated wide receiver group that could up some big production in 2019. Also, the Lions selected TJ Hockenson in the 1st round of the draft this offseason in order to fill the big void that the team had at the tight end position. The Lions also have a good running back with Kerryon Johnson who could provide some much needed balance for the Lions offense. Detroit’s offense shouldn’t be a problem, but the defense is the major question mark going into 2019. The Lions did make a big move to bolster their pass rush in free agency by signing Trey Flowers to a massive contract. The Lions are hoping that Flowers has a big season because they really don’t have another decent pass rusher on the roster, but they do have some good run-stoppers with players like Damon Harrison. Detroit also has really good cornerback Darius Slay who should carry the Lions secondary once again in 2019. Detroit’s offense will be relied upon to carry the team in 2019, but this team likely won’t be a playoff contender because of the many positions of weakness that they still have on defense.