To win division: 2.50
Regular season total: 8.5 wins
Kevin Stefanski is no longer an offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. After one of the best seasons that Vikings' offense had since Mike Zimmer took over as a head coach, there was a lot of interest for Stefanski around the league and he ultimately took a head coaching job with Cleveland Browns. Vikings doesn't seem to be too worried about that loss, because they believe that Gary Kubiak was one of the key pieces in that offensive puzzle last year. They managed to lure him out of retirement to help out Stefanski and Rick Dennison, which gave some great results. The offense was very balanced and efficient when it comes to running the ball, which is something that most of the Kubiak's offense had previously. He was known for making a 1000-yard rusher out of pretty much every starting RB that played for him.
Now when he's an OC, that is an interesting piece of information for all the fantasy football fans. Dalvin Cook seems to be heading into a holdout at the moment, refusing to play the 2020 season under his current contract (less than $2 million). If that really happens, Alexander Mattison could be a steal in the mid-late rounds, considering how explosive he looked in his rookie year when getting an opportunity. There was a lot of changes on defense. Everson Griffen, Xavier Rhodes, and Linval Joseph were key players on that side of the ball, many years and now they're all gone. Bunch of other players from secondary such as Trae Waynes, Mackenzie Alexander and Andrew Sendejo are not part of that unit anymore. Vikings haven't really invested much in replacements, besides getting Michael Pierce from Baltimore instead of Linval Joseph. But other than that, they are obviously giving opportunity to their young talents like Mike Hughes and Jeff Gladney to get the job done, showing a lot of confidence in Mike Zimmer's ability to coach the secondary up. We'll see how that plays out for them this year, considering it's a very competitive division with some elite QB's and pass catchers.
Green Bay Packers
To win division: 2.70
Regular season total: 8.5 wins
Speaking of elite QB's and wide recievers, their biggest rival from Green Bay has that combo. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best at what he does, but something very curios happened during the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead of going all-in by surrounding Rodgers with as much talent as possible to build on last year's result (NFC championship game), they actually drafted a QB in the first round! Obviously they loved everything about Jordan Love to pull a move like that, but at the same time, they sent a signal to Aaron Rodgers that he is not theone calling shots around here. And I think that drawing the line in the sand was a good move, after Rodgers' frequent disgruntlement about the franchise's decisions and cold relationship with his coaches. It might put a fire under him and force him to focus solely on the field. Also, he played some of his best football when he was overlooked, challenged and disrespected.
Defensively, it paid off that they invested heavily in their pass rush last year. Especially Za'Darius Smith proved out to be a great signing, while Jaire Alexander held things together in the back end. Still, I'm not very fond of this unit and its potential going forward. I think it lacks depth at pretty much every position and injuries of some key players would turn out to be catastrophic. Losing their tackling machine Blake Martinez to New York Giants will probably also hurt their run defense.
To win division: 5.20
Regular season total: 7.5 wins
Chicago Bears won the NFC North in 2018 and were seemingly ready to take the next step and win some playoff games. Unfortunately for them, that plan failed in 2019, where this team struggled on many fronts and ended the season with 8-8 record. One of the most talked-about issues was their QB play. Giving up a lot to move up and get Mitchell Trubisky in 2017 draft is looking like a pretty bad move right now, especially when we take into consideration that Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes were available. But I would not put all the blame on him. Matt Nagy definitely needs to take some of the responsibility for his offense that was completely out of sync.
The defense took a step back from being outstanding in 2018. Obviously, losing defensive coordinator Vic Fangio did hurt them, but losing Akiem Hicks early in the season was in my opinion the breaking point. He was doing a really good job, clogging that middle and once he went down, they went from No.1 rush defense to a mediocre one. With him back in the lineup, I'm guessing the defense will be alright. Especially after spending a top dollar to get Robert Quinn from Dallas. Facing Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn will be a nightmare for any O-line. But the offense will make or break this team ultimately. It will be interesting to see Nagy and Trubisky perform under a lot of pressure. In my opinion, it will be very difficult to improve up to a needed level, considering how few changes they made on offense. Apart from adding Jimmy Graham and drafting Cole Kmet fairly high, this group is pretty much the same as last year.
To win division: 6.50
Regular season total: 6.5 wins
We have a similar story in Detroit. The team that is coming from a 3-win season. Head coach on a hot seat and a QB that's being here for 11 years and failed to lead this franchise to a Superbowl (or near it). Although I still think Matt Stafford is a very good passer, which is a very valuable commodity in this league and Detroit would be foolish to give it up too easily. But he's been surrounded too often by a supporting cast that was not on his level, mediocre coaching, and a front office without a clear direction.
And looking at some roster changes this offseason, it's happening once again. Replacing Darius Slay with Desmond Trufant, Damon Harrison with Danny Shelton, Graham Glasgow with Oday Aboushi... Recycling bunch of New England's cast-offs, overpaying some of them in the process. They obviously missed the memo that the goal is to improve the team not make it worse. One of the rare things that I do like is drafting Jeffrey Okudah and teaming him up with Justin Coleman and Desmond Trufant. Now Matt Patricia has three capable corners that can cover. Knowing that he's a part of Belichick's coaching tree, having good cover corners is extremely important to make his defense work like it's supposed to.