2016 NFC North Outlook

Posted: September 1, 2016 in NFL

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears finished last season 6-10 and last place in the NFC North for the second straight year. John Fox will enter his second year as head coach of the Bears and John Fox teams typically see significant improvement in their second year. The Panthers went from 7-9 in 2002 to 11-5 in 2003 and the Broncos went from 8-8 in 2011 to 13-3 in 2012. Overall, John Fox has a career regular season record of 125-99 with an 8-7 postseason record. Adam Gase, last year’s offensive coordinator, left the team to take a head coaching position in Miami. Dowell Loggains is the new offensive coordinator in Chicago after spending last year as their quarterbacks coach. Loggains only prior experience as offensive coordinator was with Tennessee in 2013. Per Football Outsiders, the Bears finished last season with the 10th best offense, ranking 5th and 13th in rushing and passing, respectively. It was the Chicago Bears defense that ultimately led to a disappointing season as they ranked 31st in the NFL under Vic Fangio, who will return for his second season as defensive coordinator. The Bears run defense finished last in the NFL.

Offseason Summary

Departures: RB Matt Forte, TE Martellus Bennett, G/C Matt Slauson, OT Jermon Bushrod, DE/LB Shea McClellin, S Antrel Rolle, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins

Arrivals: OT Bobby Massie, C Ted Larsen, ILB Danny Trevathan, ILB Jerrell Freeman

Top Draft Picks: OLB Leonard Floyd (Georgia, #9 overall), G/C Cody Whitehair (Kansas State, #56), DE Jonathan Bullard (Florida, #72)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Jay Cutler

Non-QB MVP: Alshon Jeffrey

Offensive Player of the Year: Eddie Royal

Defensive Player of the Year: Jerrell Freeman

Other Notable players: Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, Willie Young, Kevin White, Zach Miller

Strongest position group: Front seven

Weakest position group: Offensive Line

Preseason Projection

I project the Bears for an expected 7.2 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 3.4 to 11.0 wins. They begin the season with an approximate 20.8% chance of making the playoffs and a less than 1% chance of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows the Bears probability of winning X number of games.

Bears

 

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions went 7-9 last year and missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. Jim Caldwell will enter his third year as head coach of the Lions. During his tenure in Detroit the Lions are 18-14 in the regular season and 0-1 in the playoffs. The Lions fired Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi in late October of last season after a 1-6 start to the season and Jim Bob Cooter took over as interim offensive coordinator for the remainder of the season. The Lions went 6-3 over their final 9 games after Lombardi was fired. Overall, the Lions finished last season with the 13th overall offense. The Lions rushing offense did, however, rank 27th in the NFL. Teryl Austin leads the Lions defense into his third season as defensive coordinator. The Lions took a step back last season on the defensive side of the ball as they ranked 16th overall, one year removed from finishing 3rd overall. Their passing and rushing defenses were middle of the pack as well with a 19th and 14th overall ranking, respectively.

Offseason Summary

Departures: WR Calvin Johnson, G/C Manny Ramirez, LB Stephen Tulloch, S Isa Abdul-Quddus, DE Jason Jones, LB Travis Lewis

Arrivals: WR Marvin Jones, DE Wallace Gilberry, S Rafael Bush, LB Jon Bostic

Top Draft Picks: OT Taylor Decker (Ohio State, #16 overall), DT A’Shawn Robinson (Alabama, #46), C Graham Glasgow (Michigan, #72)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Matthew Stafford

Non-QB MVP: Ziggy Ansah

Offensive Player of the Year: Golden Tate

Defensive Player of the Year: Darius Slay

Other Notable players: Marvin Jones, DeAndre Levy, Anquan Boldin

Strongest position group: Secondary

Weakest position group: Offensive Line

Preseason Projection

I project the Lions for an expected 6.5 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 2.8 to 10.3 wins. The Lions enter the season with an approximate 12.1% chance of making the playoffs and a less than 1% chance of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows Detroit’s probability of winning X number of games.

Lions

Green Bay Packers

The Packers finished last season at 10-6 and 2nd in the NFC North and made the playoffs for their eighth straight season. Mike McCarthy enters his eleventh season as head coach of the Green Bay Packers and over his first 10 seasons, he has a 104-55-1 regular season record. McCarthy has led the Packers to the playoffs in eight of his ten years and has an 8-7 postseason record in those eight appearances. Edgar Bennett will be the Packers offensive coordinator for his second consecutive season. The Packers had the 11th ranked offense last season. They ranked 16th and 10th overall in passing and rushing offense, respectively. Dom Capers will lead the defense for his ninth straight season. The Packers had the 9th ranked overall defense last year and their passing defense ranked 6th last year.

Offseason Summary

Departures: CB Casey Hayward, OLB Mike Neal, DT B.J. Raji

Arrivals: TE Jared Cook

Top Draft Picks: DT Kenny Clark (UCLA, #27 overall), OT Jason Spriggs (Indiana, #48) OLB Kyler Fackrell (Utah State, #88)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Aaron Rodgers

Non-QB MVP: Jordy Nelson

Offensive Player of the Year: T.J. Lang

Defensive Player of the Year: Clay Matthews

Other Notable players: Josh Sitton, Mike Daniels, Mike Pennel, Quinten Rollins

Strongest position group: Quarterback

Weakest position group: Front seven

Preseason Projection

I project the Packers for an expected 13.2 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 10.1 to 15.0 wins. The Packers enter the season with a greater than 99% chance of making the playoffs and a 19.2% of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows the Packers probability of winning X number of games.

Packers

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings won the NFC North last year with a record of 11-5. It was their first playoff appearance since 2012, where they lost with Joe Webb starting at quarterback. Mike Zimmer will begin his third season as the Vikings head coach and has a record of 18-14 over two seasons. Norv Turner will also be entering his third season as offensive coordinator for the Vikings. The Vikings offense ranked 16th last season after being 22nd overall in 2014. They also ranked 19th and 8th in passing and rushing offense, respectively.  George Edwards is entering his third season as defensive coordinator. The Vikings have improved a lot on defense behind Mike Zimmer and George Edwards. They jumped from 23rd overall in 2014 to 14th overall last season. Minnesota owned the 11th best passing defense and the 18th best rushing defense.

Offseason Summary

Departures: WR Mike Wallace, CB Josh Robinson, S Robert Blanton, LB Casey Matthews

Arrivals: G Alex Boone, T Andre Smith Jr, S Michael Griffin, LB Emmanuel Lamur

Top Draft Picks: WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss, #23 overall), CB Mackensie Alexander (Clemson, #54), OT Willie Beavers (Western Michigan, #121)

Preseason Awards

MVP: Anthony Barr

Offensive Player of the Year: Joe Berger

Defensive Player of the Year: Everson Griffen

Other Notable players: Stefon Diggs, Linval Joseph, Brian Robison

Strongest position group: Front seven

Weakest position group: Quarterback (Pray for Teddy)

Preseason Projection

I project the Vikings for an expected 8.5 wins with a 90% confidence interval of 4.6 to 12.5 wins. The Vikings enter the season with a 40.7% chance of making the playoffs and a 1.2% of winning the Super Bowl. The graph below shows Minnesota’s probability of winning X number of games.

Vikings

Projected NFC North Standings

  1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
  2. Minnesota Vikings (9-7)
  3. Chicago Bears (7-9)
  4. Detroit Lions (7-9)
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