NFC North: The Optimist's & Pessimist's Guide

By Kyle Madson & Ronnie Hampston

At the top of each NFL season, some fans are brimming with confidence. Other fans are brimming with... the opposite of confidence. While nobody is certain about which teams will be good and which ones won't Ron Hampston and Kyle Madson provide the overly optimistic and overly pessimistic preview for each team.

THE OPTIMIST’S GUIDE TO THE NFC NORTH

Minnesota Vikings

Teddy Bridgewater will be lost for all of 2016 after tearing his ACL. The Vikings traded for Sam Bradford, which is a huge upgrade over Shaun Hill. So, the following blurbs are unchecked optimism for optimism's sake:

Despite the concern at quarterback, Adrian Peterson is continuing to evade Father Time. Along with Peterson, the Vikings have other explosive players, such as Stefon Diggs and rookie Laquon Treadwell.

The offense may not resemble the Vikings of 1999, but they will score points at a high clip.

The defense is one of the best in the NFL, which is no surprise under the tutelage from Mike Zimmer.

The Vikings have minimal weaknesses on their roster, therefore it should not be a surprise if they hoist the Lombardi trophy in Houston in the month of February. -RH

Green Bay Packers

Whenever you have Aaron Rodgers--Mr. Discount Double check, himself--as the signal-caller, winning a Super Bowl is never out of the question. With the return of Jordy Nelson to boost the offense and with the weight loss of running back Eddie Lacy, the Packers are healthy and primed for a Super Bowl run.

The pressure will be on the defense, as they have a penchant for giving up a lot of points. Now that Green Bay's offense is healthy, the defense just has to hold teams to around 21 points per game because the offense will surpass that scoring total with ease.

Having said that, if the Packers win it all, P90X enthusiast Tony Horton has to get a ring for working his fitness magic on Lacy. -RH

Detroit Lions

With the artist formerly known as Megatron no longer playing football in ‘The Motor City,’ many would think that the Lions chances to win it all are over. WRONG. The Lions picked up Marvin Jones via free agency and the ancient, but consistent Anquan Boldin to help fill the gaping hole left by Calvin Johnson.

The wide receiver tandem will look to team up with Golden Tate and gunslinger Matthew Stafford. After a slow start last season, the Lions ended the year as one of the hottest teams in the NFL by winning six of their last eight games.

With the success carried over from the second half of the 2015 season, head coach Jim Caldwell will pull out all of the stops to win Super Bowl 51. With said victory, it'll give Detroit its biggest victory since B-Rabbit defeated Papa Doc in a freestyle battle on the movie 8 Mile. -RH

Chicago Bears

Jay Cutler has eyes set on proving doubters wrong. In spite of the negative talk surrounding Cutler, he will have a MVP season.

The eleven-year quarterback will finally shed the Jeff George label and finally morph into the player that many prophesied him to be coming out of Vanderbilt.

Coach John Fox has been in arms reach of a Super Bowl on two occasions. As the leader of the Monsters of the Midway, 2016 is the year it finally happens. -RH

PESSIMIST'S GUIDE TO THE NFC NORTH

Vikings

The Vikings have very quietly built an outstanding football team. They won their division in 2015 and should probably win it again in 2016. But nobody talks about them because they’re the Vikings and they are perennial losers.

This is the team that started Joe Webb in a road playoff game one time. That’s exasperating and I’m not even a Vikings fan. Last year, the Vikings season ended with Blair Walsh botching a field goal that was less than extra point distance to lose at home to Seattle. They Crying MJ’d the football. That’s the kind of loss that hangs around for YEARS and when this team winds up going 8-8 everyone will point to that playoff game against Seattle and say, “that was the moment it all fell down.” -KM

Packers

Did you know Aaron Rodgers is a believer in Ancient Aliens? That’s a neat thing! Aaron Rodgers is an interesting human and the best quarterback in the NFL.

Rodgers singlehandedly dragged the Packers kicking and screaming to the brink of an NFC Championship Game berth last season. As Rodgers flung Hail Mary’s all over the field, the defense was busy devising a plan to get on vacation as quickly as possible. And it worked. Two plays into overtime of their playoff game, the Arizona Cardinals were in the end zone.

The Packers are unique in that they have a wildly successful quarterback and every year they’re legitimate contenders. At the same time, nobody ever really believes in them because they’ve fallen on their faces enough times that believing in them seems foolish.

They addressed the loss of BJ Raji in the draft when they took Kenny Clark out of UCLA. To nab Clark, they passed on Myles Jack and Reggie Ragland. This ensures that Clark will flame out while Jack and Ragland are perennial Pro Bowlers, and the Packers defense will continue to let Rodgers down. -KM

Lions

Calvin Johnson retired and this team officially has zero redeeming qualities. Congratulations, Lions!

Even worse than Johnson retiring is he said he would have kept playing if the team was in contention. The Detroit Lions made arguably he most talented receiver ever turn off his XBox to go do something else. That’s a different kind of bad.

Here’s another example of the Lions’ ineptitude: I’ve been alive for 26 years and Detroit has won exactly one playoff game in my lifetime. You know who probably doesn’t know that? Jim Caldwell, their head coach. Do you know why Jim Caldwell doesn’t know that? Because Jim Caldwell doesn’t even want to be a football coach. He barely even watches football. He runs a successful carpeting business just south of Detroit and for some reason the Lions continue dragging him around the country to stand in as their “football coach,” forcing Caldwell to use all of the paid time off he’s been accumulating since 2002. Probably. Maybe. -KM

Bears

Let’s check in on what former Bear Martellus Bennett has to say about Jay Cutler.

Somehow the Bears are bad every year, and somehow they get better on paper every year, and somehow they never get better on the field. This team lost, at home, to the 49ers last year. Blaine Gabbert (yes, he’s still playing football), stunted on them and threw a game-winning touchdown in overtime. The Bears should be collectively boxed up and shipped to a Slovenian prison for letting that happen.

More fun Bears facts!

  • Chicago was 1-7 at home in 2015.
  • Chicago has not been to the playoffs since 2010.

The Bears went from "offensive genius" Marc Trestman to generic sitcom neighbor John Fox and their offense got neither better nor worse. They scored 16 more points in 2015 than 2014, and finished 23rd in points scored and 21st in yards gained both seasons.

Last year marked the 30th anniversary since Chicago’s last Super Bowl. At the rate their going, they’ll cruise to 40. -KM

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