Here we are again, friends – I skipped a day for work and such, so I’ll have to double down tonight and get through the last four divisions before tomorrow’s start. Let’s get to it with the NFC North:
The Bears have ruined me in survivor leagues for years no, but I’ll push my bias aside, so I have to say I’m growing a little faith in these Bears. I buying into the fervor surrounding Mitch Trubisky, who will have the rookie pressure off his back, and Allen Robinson to help catch the ball for once. Jordan Howard will continue to be the best part of the team, but with a little more variance in the offense, they have a chance to compete again seriously. It also looks as though the defense has stepped up, particularly upgrading at the offensive line in a trade with Oakland for Khalil Mack. There could be a handful of close games stolen by a stingy defense.
Green Bay Packers
A lot of pundits are pushing to elect Aaron Rodgers to win MVP before he even sets foot on the field again, having missed half of 2017 with a broken collarbone. I confess I only just remembered while looking this up that he popped back in for a December game that could have helped nab a postseason slot, but that was practically irrelevant anyway. To truly appreciate Rodgers’ return, it’s best to look at the team assembled before him. No longer privy to passing to Jordy Nelson, he does get the benefit of attempting to link up with Jimmy Graham, who’s hoping to put a disappointing Seattle stint behind him and return to his winning New Orleans period. Aaron Jones looks like he could be in the realm of Alvin Kamara, a promising rookie back, but he’s dealing with a hamstring injury on top of his two-game suspension for marijuana, so we may not know until week 3 if he’s worth as much as the other two spokes to his tricycle tandem – Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. The defense has a lot of veteran presence, so I think they’re not too far off discussing a possible domination of the North.
The leftovers of the division can be found here, as the other three teams seem to be heading in an upwards direction. I was low on this team last year and they did alright, but I don’t think they’ve made any real improvement during the off-season. The biggest highlight for games here will be seeing the underrated Golden Tate catch everything Matt Stafford throws his way. LaGarrette Blount decided to take his services north a few states, and he may be the only upgrade, pushing Ameer Abdullah down one notch on the depth chart. Marvin Jones could attempt a breakout year, but who are we kidding? Most of this team will falter and squander the exorbitant amounts of money the Lions keep throwing at them. It’s a shame, but there’s no way they’re making it into the playoffs with a division this tough.
Honestly, I think the Vikings got themselves out of a crazy terrible situation. Towards the end of 2017’s season, where they stumbled before the eventual Super Bowl winning Eagles, they had quite the QB controversy on their hands. Sam Bradford had faded, ceding time to Teddy Bridgewater, who in turn had been coming back from injury. They also passed off starts to Case Keenum, and while all of them did variably well, the front office let all three walk in the offseason in favor of nabbing Kirk Cousins from the Washington Redskins. So will Kirk finally get the offense he’s so right deserved the past few years? Stefon Diggs may be my favorite top receiver, and Adam Thielen broke out last year, making him a top-flight candidate here as well. Kyle Rudolph has always been reliable, while they have one of the best tandems this side of New Orleans in Latavius Murray and Dalvin Cook, who’s returning from a nasty ACL injury. It’s hard not to think everything can finally pull together for these Vikings.
Predictions: Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t even finish this last night. So hopefully as the day goes on we’ll get through this.