Thursday, August 27, 2015

NFC North: Biggest Questions

        Now that we've covered the NFC East (Always an interesting cover), it's time to cover the NFC North. This might be one of the NFL's deepest divisions with the Packers and Lions being last year's playoff teams along with an under-the-radar team in Minnesota and perhaps a revamped team in Chicago. Here are the biggest questions surrounding the NFC North.

Chicago Bears: Is this Jay Cutler's last stand? There has been great concern for QB Jay Cutler in the past few years in the Windy City. In 2014, Cutler threw for 3,812 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 18 INT. He also had a completion percentage of 66, 4.3% above his career average. He's faced criticism from his former teammate, Brandon Marshall; Marshall said that he was the only one who held Cutler accountable. Already in his 10th season, this is do-or-die for the Vanderbilt alum to make something of his big contract.
Detroit Lions: How big of a void has Suh left on the defensive line? It isn't really Ndamukong Suh that the Lions will miss. It's also Nick Farley and C.J. Mosley that are gone from the Lions' D-Line. But the Lions did get Haloti Ngata (32 combined tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 INT) from the Baltimore Ravens. The Lions only allowed 1,109 rushing yards in 2014, which was tops in the NFL. It'll be a bit of a tall order for the Lions to duplicate that sort of production this season.
Green Bay Packers: Does the absence of Jordy Nelson hurt the Packers' Super Bowl chances? Going into this season, the Packers were the favorites to win the Super Bowl. However, Jordy Nelson (1,519 yards, 13 TD) was lost for the season with a torn ACL. Granted, I still believe that the Packers will make the playoffs and still be a viable threat. However, their Super Bowl chances do take a bit of a hit. Considering how Green Bay was only a successful onside kick away from making the Super Bowl, it just burns them up even more to make it there.
Minnesota Vikings: Can this team make noise this year? Teddy Bridgewater (2,919 yards, 14 TD, 12 INT) looks to break out this season, but he'll need some help. He was sacked 39 times last season. In fact, Minnesota quarterbacks were sacked 51 times last year, which is ten more than the number of times that the opponents have been sacked by Minnesota's defense. If the Vikings are to make noise and be the NFC dark horse, they'll need to improve their blocking upfront.

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