I understand that due to the Coronavirus, the NFL season is potentially in trouble. However, I also understand that I'm a degenerate gambler who does his best work picking National Football League games and until I'm told otherwise, I'm assuming we'll have NFL football in 2020. This offseason has matched the madness we've seen throughout the world during 2020, and I expect the 2020-2021 season to be just as all over the place. Moving forward, I'm going to breakdown a different division every Monday for the next 8 weeks to give you the best advice possible and some future beers on me come January.
This week, we start with the NFC North, a division near and dear to my heart and the home of my Chicago Bears. In my honest opinion, the NFC North is one of the stronger divisions in all of football and any of the 4 teams have the potential to make the playoffs this year based on strength of schedule alone (Lions included).
All betting odds courtesy of sportsaction77.com, the home of my extremely below average college-aged bookie.
I wanted to write about the Bears last in this blog, but it would make my OCD self flip shit that this isn't in alphabetic order, so here we are. In what feels like a lifetime ago, I wrote about the Bears trading for Nick Foles, and my tune regarding Foles was a lot different then than it is now. I wanted Jameis, but talked myself into Foles because of his familiarity with Matt Nagy's system. Now, I'm all the way back in on Mitch for a few reasons, but the biggest being Mitch saying on the record he still feels like the Bears are his team. There's no sugarcoating the fact that Mitch looked lost most of the time in 2019, but if he comes into camp as fired up as he sounds and the rumors are true that Bears staff members are kicking Mitch out of the team's facilities because he needs a break I'm rock hard. Some may call it overcompensating and the equivalent of tossing her legs over your head, I call it making the best out of a bad situation.
Give me this Mitch in 2020
Sure the Bears may have spent too much on guys like Robert Quinn and Jimmy Graham, but made what in my opinion is a great signing in TaShaun Gibson. Add in the fact that the Bears are getting instant difference makers in rookies Cole Kemet and Jaylon Johnson, I love the spot the Bears are in headed into 2020. Sure, they could have done more to improve the offensive line than sign the 6th most penalized player in all of football, German Ifedi. Factoring in the tweet above in the blog and my overly optimistic fandom, I'm betting the Bears OVER 8 Wins at +100. If Matt Nagy can come back down to earth and forget that he ever won Coach of the Year in 2018, I think the Bears can realistically win 12 games. That's a major if, but it remains to
be seen if Nagy remembers the Bears have David Montgomery on the roster. Run the damn ball, play defense and convince Mitch that every drive is the 2 minute drill. It's that simple.
I'm not saying the entire landscape of the North will be flipped in its entirety, ffs Matthew Stafford can only do so much himself for the Lions. When Stafford hangs 'em up, he will be the NFL's all-time leading passer until Mahomes eventually passes him. Any team with Stafford under center has the potential to make some noise and I'll take that to the grave.
Lions fans the minute Stafford retires
Generally speaking, I don't think Matt Patricia is a good Head Coach, and in all honesty, he's just another member of the Belichick Coaching Tree who is a lot lot of meh the minute he leaves. The thing is, you've seen Patricia continue to bring in former Patriots who in all honesty, have probably had enough of playing under BB and Co., not for everyone, but you wouldn't find me willingly signing contracts to go and play in Detroit. But the free agency additions of Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton will plug some holes that were areas of weakness in 2019. The new duo of Desmond Trufant and Jeffrey Okudah at corner should prove to be better than the 2019 seasons which saw the Lions ranked 32nd in yards per game.
Offensively, the Lions have a strong group of Wide Receivers led by Kenny Golladay who's only getting better and Marvin Jones. Toss in a young, explosive tight end in TJ Hockenson and the duo of Kerryon Johnson and 2020 Second Round Pick D'Andre Swift, the Lions are going to bring a more balanced approach to the table in 2020. But I'm betting UNDER 7 Wins at -110. This was the hardest choice to make in the entire division because I see them flirting with 7-9 wins depending on how the AFC South ends up being. We'll play it conservative here, the Lions will improve from 3 wins in 2019, I'm betting the over if it moves down to 6.5.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers and Matt LeFleur have a strong disliking for each other, and it's quite apparent. This will end up being the first time a Frenchman isn't waving the white flag in who knows how long.
I'm not going into this one in much detail other than Rodgers has to be pissed off that not only has he been excommunicated by his family, the Packers have begun the process. After drafting Jordan Love in the first round and the questionable choice of A.J, Dillon in the Second, it's clear that the Pack are ushering in a new era. But hey, the Packers signed Devin Funchess for Rodgers, who needs real receiver help anyways?
Will the Packers be bad? For all intents and purposes, no. They still have Rodgers under center but by the end of the season it'll be clear Rodger's time in Green Bay is coming to an end quicker than any of us could have anticipated. That being said, you're an absolute buffoon is you see the win total of the 2019 Division Champs set at 9 and don't take the OVER at +105. The value is too good to pass up, even if I hate to admit it.
As strong as a draft that the Vikings had, they may have lost more across the board than any other team in football this offseason. Defensively, the losses of Xavier Rhodes, Even Griffin and defensive linemen Linval Joseph are going to be difficult to overcome. The Vikings did their best to address the losses, but the young talent that's been brought in through the draft is going to need the proper time to develop and with the way the world is going right now, who knows what rookie mini camp and the rest of the offseason look like, I'm not crazy optimistic about the impact rookies will make in 2020.
The Vikings drafted Justin Jefferson out of LSU to replace Stefon Diggs, but I don't see the rookie being able to replace what Diggs has been able to do right out of the gate. The Vikings, in my opinion, are the best coached team in the entire division, but when you lose as much talent as the Vikings have this is a transitional year for the Vikings. Looking into the crystal ball, I see 7-9 or 8-8, I'm betting UNDER 9 Wins at +100