Next up in our Divisional Prediction series for the 2014 season is the NFC North, which is one of the most complete divisions in the NFL.
1. Detroit Lions: 11-5
The talent on either side of the ball for the Lions has been prevalent for the past couple of years. The primary thing that they were missing was team discipline, which I believe will show up in D-Town with a new coaching staff. Adding tight end Eric Ebron, who athletically resembles Jimmy Graham, gives Matthew Stafford another great target to go along with Megatron and Golden Tate. You can't forget about Reggie Bush, either, who had a career year in 2013 despite missing some time due to injury. The only part that I don't like about the Lions' defense is their secondary. Their pass rush will be treacherous as always. The Lions are my surprise team in 2014 and will take the NFC North plus the third seed in the NFC.
2. Green Bay Packers: 11-5
Having an explosive offense has become pretty regular for the Packers since Aaron Rodgers took over the helm at quarterback, but their defense has been pretty unimpressive. To combat this Achilles Heel, the Packers' front office grabbed stud defensive end Julius Peppers through free agency and took safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with their first-round pick in the draft. Their weapons at receiver and stable of running backs will keep defenses on their heals, but I still don't think their defense will be able to hang with offenses from the likes of New Orleans, Seattle, Detroit, and New England, who all appear on their schedule. Nevertheless, the Pack will have another good season and will look to do some damage in the postseason; they take the sixth seed in the NFC by a loss of tiebreaker to the Lions.
3. Chicago Bears: 9-7
The Bears have become a lot of people's surprise team lately, but they remind me too much of a slightly better version of the Cowboys. Like the Cowboys, they have a loose cannon at quarterback in Jay Cutler. They do have better offensive weapons -- Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are the best one-two punch at receiver in the NFL -- but their defense looks to be just as bad as the Cowboys'. Replacing Julius Peppers with Jared Allen is a wash and overall the squad is in decline. I would feel much more confident about this team if the defense were better, but I don't see the Bears making the playoffs in 2014.
4. Minnesota Vikings: 6-10
The Vikings are overall a very average team that could be a whole lot better with just a few more pieces. Matt Cassell will likely open up the season at quarterback, which is poses as a huge question mark in itself. Don't be surprised if Teddy Bridgewater is starting by the fifth or sixth game after a flop from Cassell. Adrian Peterson will be 'All Day' as always and I like Cordarrelle Patterson to take have a more extended role. Greg Jennings is still a good option to have, but he isn't as productive as he was in his glory days with the Packers. I wouldn't have taken Anthony Barr at ninth overall because I don't think he can produce right away, but he should be a good developmental project. A depleted pass rush and mediocre secondary won't hang around with elite offenses, so don't look for this team to have much success in 2014.
Who do you guys think will win the NFC North in 2014?