THE Green Bay Packers have frequently dominated the NFC North division, having won 10 divisional crowns since 2010. With the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings all taking various routes this offseason to try and change that, it is necessary to get a snapshot of what to expect moving into the 2022-23 NFL season.
2021 Record – 6-11
After having made an important trade-up in last year’s draft to select QB Justin Fields, the Bears underwent an identity change last season, and saw one happen this offseason as well.
For Fields, he was thrown into the mess alongside Andy Dalton and Nick Foles – while all three players saw playing time at various stages of the season, it was Fields that eventually was given a fair shake of things to cap off his rookie campaign.
Matt Nagy and most of his staff were replaced, and former Colts DC Matt Eberflus was brought in as their next HC. Luke Getsy, Green Bay’s former QB coach, was brought in as the next OC for Chicago, hoping to turn his first chance of calling plays into an eventual HC role.
But Chicago’s offense has an uphill battle this year, as Fields only has Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet as proven targets in the passing game. Allen Robinson left for the Rams and WR Velus Jones Jr. was a rookie selected in April to try and bring some depth, but overall this group is quite devoid of talent.
Defensively, Khalil Mack was traded to the Chargers this offseason, and both Artie Burns and Bilal Nichols departed in free agency, making massive holes for the Bears to fill. While this team could certainly surprise in Fields’ sophomore season, don’t count on it.
2021 Record – 3-13-1
The three wins certainly can define the Detroit Lions 2021 season, but Dan Campbell seems to be getting a ton of player buy-in, which can be the first step in finally seeing some progress after a sustained rebuild.
While Jared Goff remains this team’s QB, offensive options like RB D’Andre Swift, TE TJ Hockenson, and WR Jameson Williams makes this team very intriguing. Plenty of holes remain and they will still not be a source of contention this upcoming season, but signs point to this team being on the precipice of something positive.
Riding Goff for another season is not necessarily a surprise, especially with the 2023 draft class being labeled as an extremely strong one for QBs – they certainly will keep things close this season and be an irritant to much-better teams, but just like the Bears, don’t expect much from them.
2021 Record – 8-9
To round out the divisional preview, the Vikings look to be basically the same eight-win team as last year. With players like Anthony Barr and Everson Griffen still out on the free agency market, their defense will likely look much different this year.
Continuing that strange GB-to-MIN pipeline was Za’Darius Smith, an edge rusher who did not return to the Packers after their money-saving moves left him out in the cold. Another oft-injured pass rusher who is getting old certainly could backfire for the Vikings, an all too familiar sight for their fans.
Offensively, their attack still mostly looks the same, as Kirk Cousins and his bloated contract are still throwing to Justin Jefferson and the older Adam Thielen while handing it off to Dalvin Cook. No high selections were used on any playmakers, and with Irv Smith Jr. returning from injury, all signs point to him to becoming another option for Cousins to target.
Minnesota looks to be the biggest threat to the Packers repeating as divisional champions, and while the Vikings do look good on paper, their below-.500 record last season speaks to a different outcome. It would be surprising to see the Vikings earn another losing record, especially with the talent that they have, so having the 20th-toughest schedule is a perfect recipe for them to exceed and make the playoffs again.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23