Last season, this conference took the NFL by surprise. One team, in particular, caused a Midwestern storm: the Chicago Bears. QB Mitch Trubisky in his second season caused mayhem along with LB Khalil Mack’s excellence in defense and a Green Bay Packers’ team without QB Aaron Rodgers fell off the tracks and was forgotten about. This season, the Bears are favorites to win the conference yet again, but they still need to play their cards carefully and not let their guard down against the Minnesota Vikings or the Packers. The big question regarding this conference might be as to whether the Vikings or Packers can make playoffs this season as well or not if the Bears most likely will.
Last season’s record: 12-4
Postseason result: Cody Parkey’s missed field goal saw the Bears lose to the Philadelphia Eagles by one point in the second round of playoffs.
- C Ted Larsen (Miami Dolphins)
- RB Mike Davis (Seattle Seahawks)
- WR Marvin Hall (Atlanta Falcons)
- LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (New York Jets)
- OT T.J. Clemmings (Oakland Raiders)
Undrafted signed players:
- DL Daryle Banfield (Brown University)
- K Eddy Pineiro
- WR Riley Ridley (University of Georgia)
- RB Kerrith Whyte Jr. (University of Florida)
- RB David Montgomery (Iowa State)
Released TE Dion Sims, K Parkey (thank God) and Adrian Amos and waived OL Dejon Allen, K Redford Jones, K John Baron, DB Adarius Pickett, DE Lawrence Marshall and K Chris Blewitt.
The big question:
The Bears’ current situation feels kind of like the Atlanta Braves’. A team with quality and skill in a good position, but with one major issue. In the Braves’ case, it would be their bullpen but for the Bears, the kicker situation seems a bit uneasy. As you can read, four kickers were either released or waived and Pineiro didn’t have a good day out in the Bears’ preseason match against the Tenessee Titans. But if the Bears can get the kicking situation sorted out, Bears are just as capable of repeating last season’s theatrics, if not do better. Davis and Hall are excellent additions for the offense to pair up with Trubisky, but last season, it was the Bears’ defense, led by Mack, which won them matches. Can Mack and his defense repeat last season’s heroics?
Green Bay Packers
Last season’s record: 6-9-1
Postseason result: Sorry, 2018 just wasn’t the year.
- S Adrian Amos (Bears)
- LB Preston Smith (Washington)
- LB Za’Darius Smith (Baltimore Ravens)
- OL Billy Turne (Broncos)
- TE Marcedes Lewis
- DE Rashan Gary (University of Michigan)
- QB Manny Wilkins (Arizona State)
- WR Jawill Davis (New York Giants)
- Released LB Antonio Morrison, LB Nick Perry, G Nico Siragusa, S Jason Thompson, DL Mike Daniels and RB Darrin Hall, waived CB Javien Hamilton and WR Jordy Nelson retired.
The big question:
So as long as QB Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get injured, everything should be fine, right? Well, not entirely true. This Green Bay Packers team is a completely new Green Bay Packers with Matt LaFluer as head coach. The coaching staff has been completely remodeled from last year’s disappointing season. Due to all the changes, there’s plenty of questions to be asked regarding the starting line-up. It seems that draft picks Gary and Darnell Savage won’t have to wait too long before getting starts, but there’s still some uncertainty as to who will pair with Rodgers as a wide receiver? Green Bay would, of course, want to see big seasons from the likes of Marquez Valdes-Scantling and/or Equanimeous St. Brown, but one thing Green Bay fans should know from the last season is that you can’t expect anything and anything is unexpected. With that being said, can Green Bay’s wide receivers step up and support the offense in scoring?
Last season’s record: 8-7-1
Postseason result: So about that…
- RB Ameer Abdullah (Detroit Lions)
- K Dan Bailey (Dallas Cowboys)
- CB Bené Benwikere (Oakland Raiders)
- G Josh Cline (Tennessee Titans)
- C Garrett Bradbury (North Carolina State)
- TE Irv Smith Jr. (University of Alabama)
- RB Alexander Mattison (Boise State)
- G Dru Samia (Oklahoma)
- LB Cameron Smith (USC)
Waived CB Jalen Myrick, RB Roc Thomas and G Tyler Catalina and DE Brian Robison retired.
The big question:
The Minnesota Vikings were disappointing from the start last season. Disregarding the results, new quarterback Kirk Cousins didn’t prove to be good enough for Minnesota. The Vikings did an excellent job if filling in patches and rebuilding their defense with the likes of Cline in the off-season, but as to how well the offense will perform this season is like flipping a coin. QB Kyle Sloter may try to make a case for himself ahead of Cousins, but the Vikings have also improved their running game with the likes of Abdullah, Benwikere and Mattinson. With all that being said, however, can Cousins return to form a make a feared Vikings’ offense again?
Last season’s record: 6-10
Postseason result: Let me know when this changes.
- WR Danny Amendola (Miami Dolphins)
- OL Oday Aboushi (Arizona Cardinals)
- S Andrew Adams (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
- CB Justin Coleman (Seattle Seahawks)
- DE Trey Flowers (New England Patriots)
- TE Jesse James (Pittsburgh Steelers)
- WR Tommylee Lewis (New Orleans Saints)
- TE Logan Thomas (Buffalo Bills)
- CB Rashaan Melvin (Raiders)
- TE T.J. Hockinson (Iowa)
- DE Austin Bryant (Clemson)
- Amani Oruwariye (Penn State)
Released S Glover Quin, WR Bruce Ellington, LB Nicholas Grigsby, WR Brandon Reilly, LB Tre’ Williams, WR Brandon Reilly and C Luke Bowanko cut G T.J. Lang and waived LB Juwon Young, TE Michael Roberts, LB Tre Lamar, DB Andrew Adams, DB Andre Chachere, WR Jordan Lasley, DE Eric Lee, WR Tommylee Lewis, DE Mitchell Loewen, OT Ryan Pope, P Ryan Santoso, G Micah St. Andrew and DB Jamar Summers.
The big question:
Coach Matt Patricia is being given a second chance, but that still doesn’t guarantee stability. Even if he doesn’t take the Lions to the playoffs, he still needs to improve on that 6-10 record, which, unfortunately, in the NFC North, will be very difficult to do. Patricia has improved on last season[‘s performances through his signings, but nothing is guaranteed as to whether they will perform or not. The Lions are yet to win in preseason as well. However, the second half of last season, their defense gave away just an average of three touchdowns, so that could be a bright spot to improve upon. The offense’s effectiveness will be the main focus as the Lions now have a good addition of tight ends and running backs. Can the Lions’ offense improve from last season?
Predicted division standings:
- Chicago Bears (10-6)
- Minnesota Vikings (8-8)
- Green Bay Packers (7-9)
- Detroit Lions (6-10)