5) Predicted order of finish?
BL: 1. Vikings 2. Packers 3. Lions 4. Bears
The Vikings clearly have the best personnel on both sides of the ball, but if Rodgers is healthy for 16 games, the Packers are always a threat. The Bears appear to have made the moves necessary to jump-start a poor offense, but it may take another year or so, although DC Vic Fangio’s defense could be even better than last year’s top-10 crew. The Lions already have a potent offense, and their defense is good enough to keep them around .500, which is probably enough to keep them ahead of the Bears.
EE: 1. Vikings 2. Packers 3. Bears 4. Lions
We’re not quite as bullish on the Vikings as we were a few months ago, but this defense certainly makes them top-tier contenders. If the Packers' defense jells under Mike Pettine, we think Green Bay can challenge the Vikings for the division crown. Give it a month, maybe two … but this Bears team will come along and enter 2019 as legitimate frontrunners. As for the Lions, we see a small step back this season in Patricia’s first go-around, but Matthew Stafford gives them a chance to win most weeks.
GG: 1. Vikings. 2. Packers 3. Bears 4. Lions
Minnesota has the best talent in the division, to go along with one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. Add Kirk Cousins at quarterback and the Vikings should roll. As long as Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback, the Packers will be a strong team. One of the top QBs in all of football alone means at least 8 wins. The Bears will be much improved. QB Mitch Trubisky will grow in his second year, and Matt Nagy brings in an exciting offense. In another division, the Bears could challenge for a playoff spot. In Detroit, yes, Matt Patricia brings exciting credentials, but I have never been a Lions fan. GM Bob Quinn is the weakest in the division, and the overall talent level of the Lions is average.
AA: 1. Vikings 2. Packers 3. Bears 4. Lions
Nothing short of a Super Bowl LIII berth will be acceptable in Minnesota, and it's up to Mike Zimmer and Kirk Cousins to guide a team as talented as any to Atlanta. I have a hunch the Packers defense is going to surprise some folks and pair with Aaron Rodgers to give the NFC North two viable Super Bowl threats. I love the Bears' direction, and flirting with a winning season one year removed from 3-13 isn't out of the question. I also love Detroit's clear commitment to finding balance on offense and versatility defensively, but I'm still wary of Matt Patricia's pieces up front on 'D.'
HA: 1. Vikings 2. Packers 3. Bears 4. Lions
On paper, the Vikings are the best team in the NFC and a solid Super Bowl LIII pick. This is the least talented Packers squad in a while, but if Rodgers plays 14-16 games, they are a contender again. I'm not anywhere near the front of the Bears bandwagon, but I do like Nagy, the staff he's put together, and the talent has been upgraded significantly. I have consistently underrated the Lions the last few years, and I'm a big Matt Patricia fan, but he's a rookie and this is the least talented roster in the division.