FBC NFL Preview: NFC North

Let’s get it on! It’s the only preview any of you care about! The NFC North. The Bears return almost an entire roster that had 12 wins last year. The Packers jettisoned their well massaged Butterball turkey of a coach and fortified their defense. The Vikings rebuilt their offensive line. The Lions fired Jim Bob Cooter. It’s midwest football babaayyyyy!

Team: Chicago Bears

2018 Record: 12-4
My 2019 Predicted Record: 10-6
Preseason Power Ranking: 4
2019 Strength of Schedule:

As a Bears fan, I feel an impending sense of dread coming into week 1 of the season. The Bears hype train is currently racing out of control and into a winding mountain. They are playing the Packers in the first game of the NFL season. This game usually goes to the Super Bowl champion every year, but they are giving it to the Bears and Packers. And I am terrified the Packers are going to blow the doors of the Bears and they are going to start the season as imposters.

The Bears are returning almost an entire team that went 12-4 last year, and upgraded in a couple spots. Khalil Mack is back and healthy. Eddie Jackson is ascending to “top safety in the NFL” status, and the Bears are stacked on the defensive line. That said, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is gone, taking over the head coaching job in Denver. He’s been replaced by Chuck Pagano, who is going to try to blitz. A lot.

The Bears rarely blitzed last year, relying more on their overwhelming defensive line to get pressure on the quarterback while they clogged passing lanes. This year, they also come in with a very thin group of players at cornerback. They can’t really afford to have injuries. They were also very reliant last year on turnovers. 36 turnovers in a season isn’t one of those things people consider sustainable. They intend to blitz more to attempt to force more mistakes, but there is a certain element of luck that the Bears are going to struggle to replicate this year.

Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Yes, but by how much is definitely in question.

Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: If they are able to outrun their regression candidate status.

Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: David Montgomery. By the sounds of it, he’s gonna be the guy to start the year.

Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Mitch Trubisky. He is too up and down for you to have even an ounce of faith in starting him every week.

If This Team Was a Song: Juice by Lizzo, because if Khalil Mack shines, then everybody gonna shine.

Team: Green Bay Packers

2018 Record: 6-9-1
My 2019 Predicted Record: 10-6
Preseason Power Ranking: 12
2019 Strength of Schedule: 14th Toughest Schedule

Aaron Rodgers is still on the team. Davante Adams is still around. Aaron Jones in here. They spent a bunch of money in the offseason to improve their defense. By all accounts, this should be a better team….

But they brought in Matt Lafleur to be their head coach. People are hyping him as a great offensive mind who is going to be unleashed with Aaron Rodgers as his quarterback. Lets review: Matt Lafleur was the offensive coordinator for the Rams in 2017. When that team’s offense exploded, he was hailed as an offensive genius who was going to be the next big head coach. Six coaching openings came available after that season. Six teams passed on making Matt Lafleur their head coach. On top of that, the Rams felt so strongly about Lafleur’s ability, that they let him leave just to take another offensive coordinator job somewhere else. The Rams are within their rights in the NFL to block Lafleur from even interviewing for a lateral move in the NFL. And they let him up and sign somewhere else.

Then, Lafleur went to the Tennessee Titans, who had the 25th ranked offense last year. That’s not a good offense. Nobody was turning on the Titans games last year expecting offensive magic.

That’s why I’m skeptical on the Packers. It’s not personnel. But it’s definitely the guy running the show.

Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Player wise, yes. Coaching wise…

Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: If Aaron Rodgers starts calling his own plays, yes.

Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Aaron Rodgers is getting drafted after Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson in a lot of leagues, which is borderline psychotic.

Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Jimmy Graham, but you really should already know that.

If This Team Was a Song: A Little Respect by Erasure, because if this franchise had any respect for Rodgers, they would hire a defensive minded head coach and just let him call his own plays.

Team: Minnesota Vikings

2018 Record: 8-7-1
My 2019 Predicted Record: 8-8
Preseason Power Ranking: 14
2019 Strength of Schedule: 10th Toughest Schedule

On paper, the Vikings continue to be one of the best teams on paper. In reality, this team is going to go as far as Kirk Cousins will take him. The correct answer is: not far. It also doesn’t help that they have a terrible coaching staff made worse by the fact that Gary Kubiak was brought in to loom over the offensive like a gargoyle until people start getting fired and he slides into the offensive coordinator or head coaching position.

The offense has a lot of weapons: Stephon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Dalvin Cook, Alex Mattison, Kyle Rudolph, and Irv Smith Jr. They will inevitably be wasted and this team will average ten fewer points per game than they would have if they had a quarterback who was more than a “game manager” on their roster. The offensive line continues to be a barn door waving aimlessly in the breeze.

The defense is good, but as always, it probably isn’t good enough to save the offense from themselves. This team could have made the playoffs last year. All they had to do was beat a Bears team that was mostly playing backups and trying not to get injured. They lost.

Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Not really. They tried to improve their offensive line, but that’s full on wait and see mode.

Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: They are barely a division contender. They had their chance two seasons ago when they ripped the hearts out of the Saints.

Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Alex Mattison. He’s worth a late round flyer as Dalvin Cook’s backup who could fit in very well with this Gary Kubiak offense.

Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Kirk Cousins. Some guys are good fantasy qbs but bad real life qbs. Some are bad fantasy qbs and good real life qbs. Kirk Cousins is neither.

If This Team Was a Song: The Worst Day Since Yesterday by Flogging Molly, because this team just kind of keeps getting worse on a week to week basis.

Team: Detroit Lions

2018 Record: 6-10
My 2019 Predicted Record: 5-11
Preseason Power Ranking: 25
2019 Strength of Schedule: 19th Toughest Schedule

Oh, Detroit. Poor, sweet Detroit. I like Detroit as a city. Certainly more than Green Bay or Minneapolis. There is a lot of party in that town. The town deserves better than an outfit that aims for third place every season. They continue to give money to Matt Stafford because they are terrified of dipping into the quarterback abyss and starting over.

Kerryon Johnson will be good, possibly very good. Kenny Golladay will be good, possibly very good. The problem is, they have quite possibly the worst coach in the NFL. Matt Patricia is the worst guy off the Bill Belichick coaching tree to ever get a head coaching job, which is stunning given that Bill O’Brien exists. Patricia is so blatently trying to turn the Lions into the Patriots way that I’m absolutely convinced there are pictures of Tom Brady hugging Romeo Crennel littering that Detroit locker room.

Is This Team Better Than Last Year: Yeeeeeessss.

Is This Team a Super Bowl Contender: Noooooooooo.

Fantasy Player You Should Be Drafting: Kenny Golladay is getting drafted much lower than he should be.

Fantasy Player You Should Avoid Like the Plague: Matt Stafford. Holy hell. Don’t draft Matt Stafford.

If This Team Was a Song: Lies of the Beautiful People by Sixx AM. Sports Illustrated has this team with 9 wins and finishing ahead of the Bears. SI is fake beautiful because nobody gives a shit about them anymore.

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