After last year’s improvement and the addition of Khalil Mack, the Bears became a dark horse contender in the NFC. As that defensive unit improves and Mitch Trubisky continues his ascendance, there’s no reason why these Bears can’t repeat in the NFC North. Some critics point to the Bears gaudy takeaway numbers as evidence that they’ll slide. It’s a fair point, it’s hard to have twenty-seven interceptions two seasons in a row, but I think the coherence of the defense and the development of Roquon Smith can make up for a slight dip in takeaways.
Bold Prediction: By midseason, Da’ Bearz will be the favorites from the NFC to hoist the Lombardi trophy. They’ll start the season at home against the rebuilding Packers, then have the Broncos, Washington, Minnesota and the Raiders before a week six bye. After that it’s two tough tests at home against the Saints and Chargers. If they win one of those two home games, it’s pretty easy to see the Bears at 7-1 by the midway point.
Detroit was simply maddening in 2018, and fans were straight up confused. How does the same team get blown out by the Jets in week one, and then beat the Patriots going away two weeks later? Add in Matthew Stafford’s strangely timed week off, and a head injury to backup Tom Savage, and I foresee more consistency coming from the Lions this season.
Bold Prediction: That’s not a good thing. The Lions are likely to trend downward in their second season under Matt Patricia. If the Lions don’t win the season opener against Arizona and their new look offense, they will struggle mightily to win two games by midseason. That’s the kind of stuff that gets guys fired.
Green Bay Packers
New year. New coach. Does hope spring eternal? I’m not sure. I like the draft that Green Bay pulled together, bringing in help for a porous defense. That being said, the attrition on offense and an apparent rift between Aaron Rodgers and the new scheme could pose huge problems. Add in a lack of depth at the skill positions and I see trouble looming at Lambeau.
Bold Prediction: The Packers are one injury away from another lost season. That one injury? Davante Brown. He’s the only truly trusted target left from Rodgers best years. If he goes down, a lack of rapport with Marquez-Valdes-Scantling and Equaniemeous St. Brown will leave Geronimo Allison in the slot as A-Rod’s go-to-guy. If he can’t uncover regularly, Rodgers will need to scramble. If he scrambles, he gets hit…hard. Then the dominoes fall, and the cheese heads are left with another “what if?”
Don’t act like I didn’t tell you. The mega-deal for Kirk Cousins was always going to leave the Vikings in a tight spot. The team’s chemistry was far-better under Case Keenum, who admittedly struggled in Denver last year. After a disappointing 8-7-1 in 2018 with Kirk Cousins, the Vikings are looking to get back to the promised land on the back of that potent defense and the scary good tandem of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen at wide receiver. The duo combined for over 2300 yards and 18 touchdowns in I don’t expect to see any slippage there this season.
Bold Prediction: While Kirk Cousins might be complaining publicly about the sweatiness of his new center Garrett Bradbury, I have a feeling that come game time, his blocking skills will be all that Cousins notices. The NC State lineman/center is a monster at 6’3” 306 lbs. and he WILL slow down the up-the-center bull rushes that sent Cousins scrambling last season. It will be enough to get the Vikings above .500 and into the wildcard chase. Cousins was sacked forty times last year, the tenth-most in the league. I expect that number to drop in a meaningful way, allowing Cousins to get the ball further downfield on a regular basis.
Check out my other Bold Predictions here.
Image Source: AP Images/Butch Dill