The NFC North will likely be one of the most highly-contested divisions in the NFL for the 2023 season, and there are plenty of uncertainties with every team. Everyone knows what has changed with the Green Bay Packers, but what kind of teams will the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Minnesota Vikings be this year?
With general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus having gone through their first full year together, the Bears seem to be on the right path for the future of their franchise. While their new leadership has been talked about pretty highly, it is time for their roster to meet the same type of excitement.
After having secured the no. 1 overall pick, the Bears orchestrated a deal to the ihest bidder, the Carolina Panthers, to move back and recoup some much-needed extra draft capital. That capital, both for this year and next, as well as adding DJ Moore, helps show that this team has established its building blocks and is ready to compete.
The development of Justin Fields under former Green Bay offensive coach Luke Getsy will be under the microscope yet again this year, but with a revamped offensive line and a better set of skill players around him, Fields won’t have many excuses if he doesn’t perform this year.
The defense for the Bears is the side of the ball that may struggle this year, as players like Khalil Mack and Roquan Smith no longer are rushing the passer. Having invested in linebackers during free agency this off-season (Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards) makes it look like this is the strongest area of this unit, but their pass rush and secondary need some work.
Having fallen just short of a postseason berth last year in Week 18, the Detroit Lions are banking on that momentum to propel them to the top of the division in 2023. But a curious approach to the NFL Draft may be a big detriment to sustaining that success.
Having selected Alabama RB Jahmyr Gibbs and Iowa LB Jack Campbell earlier than consensus in the first round certainly put them under scrutiny, even if the rest of their draft class did make up it. Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell showed last year they understand how to not only find the right players but how to get the guys who want to invest in the team, so it remains to be seen how their roster will turn out this year.
Having traded D’Andre Swift to the Eagles, signed David Montgomery, and drafted Gibbs, the backfield is going to look extremely different for Detroit this year behind Jared Goff. Second-year wideout Jameson Williams is facing a six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, putting even more pressure on Amon-Ra St. Brown, Marvin Jones, and rookie tight end Sam LaPorta.
There is no ‘safe’ pick to win the North title this year, but plenty of people think that the Lions will earn that right this year, and while their roster certainly could make that happen, there are plenty of question marks still to be answered.
The curious case of the Minnesota Vikings continues into 2023 – for a team that has consistently been seen as a contender may become a pretender as soon as this year.
While the offense will continue to hum right along with Justin Jefferson, T.J. Hockenson, and 1st-round wideout Jordan Addison in the fold, questions about the future of Kirk Cousins continue, mainly after Minnesota used a fifth-rounder on BYU’s Jaren Hall in April.
Defensively, they got to find out first-hand why Green Bay happily let Za’Darius Smith walk after a year, as the Vikings shipped him and some draft capital out to Cleveland for a few picks in return. Eric Kendricks now is with the Chargers, Patrick Peterson is now with the Steelers, and only Danielle Hunter and Harrison Smith are the remaining ‘old heads’ on the defense.
It will be interesting to see just how the North plays out as a whole, but it is fair to assume that all four teams are in the hunt to win the division.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