In 2012, the NFC North had 3 teams with 10+ wins. The 4th team (Detroit), made the playoffs the year before. This is possibly the deepest division in the NFL in 2013 and the hardest to predict. Is Minnesota for real? Can GB continue to win while getting Rodgers sacked 50+ times? Can Cutler finally live up to his hype? And can Detroit stop being Detroit? We look at that and more.
Green Bay Packers
2012 Record: 11-5
2013 Prediction: 12-4
Confidence in Pick: 75%
Losses: Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson, Cedric Benson, Bryan Bulaga (torn ACL), Donald Driver (retirement)
Pickups: Datone Jones, Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin,
Reasons for Optimism:
Aaron Rodgers – This is a QB league and Rodgers is the best QB in this division (maybe in all of the NFL). In 2012, Rodgers had 4,295 yards and not a single 1,000 yard receiver. Yes they lost Greg Jennings, but they really didn’t have him 2012 either (8 games, 36 receptions, 366 yards and 4 TDs). Rodgers still has a dangerous core of receiving options (Nelson, Cobb, Jones and Finley) and now, with the drafting of Lacy and Franklin, he should have the best running backs of his career.
Rookie RBs – When has Rodgers ever had a competent running game? They thought they might have solved the problem last year when they signed Benson. An early injury derailed that, so GB looked to the draft. While Lacy is the higher pick and bigger name, I actually like Franklin better because of his speed and receiving ability. Either way, teams will have to respect Lacy and Franklin which will make the passing attack that much more effective.
Big Play Defense – While the defense causes me some concern, they were a top 15 defense in 2012 and with this offense, they just need to make some plays and keep the opposing team within striking distance. This defense has the play makers to do just that (Matthews, Raji, Jones).