As the 2013 NFL season is upon us, we will see soon enough whether or not our summer predictions and rantings and ravings pan out. Among the many predictions bloggers, analysts, talk show hosts and most of all, fans of the nation’s favorite sport make, the most heated and the most fun debate topic to talk about and try to predict, is who finishes where in a division. The NFC North is a division that has been among the best and most competitive divisions in the NFL over the past several seasons — division that saw the Chicago Bears go 10-6 and finish in only third place, as well as not even make the postseason in 2012. The 10-6 Minnesota Vikings finished only a game worse than the division winning Green Bay Packers (11-5) in 2012. This division saw two of its teams make the playoffs last year, and again, proved along with the AFC North, and recently the NFC West, that it is among the league’s toughest divisions to win.
The Packers may be the two-time defending NFC North champions, but it is a division that has improved this offseason. The Packers will have their hands full with their rivals, the Bears, with whom they share a blood feud that dates back to the 1920s. Making the rivalry between these two franchises the most played rivalry in the NFL. Besides, the Bears who have an offense that can give a suspect Packers secondary fits. They must also contend with the Detroit Lions, that, despite a disappointing 4-12 season in 2012, can, and I believe will, finish with 10 or more wins and contend for not only second place, but perhaps the NFC North crown.
While the Vikings had a great year last year and went to the playoffs, they are too limited to repeat, what I feel, was a bit of an aberrational season that was carried by Adrian Peterson and his historic rushing season. Therefore, they are out as potential pitfalls to the Packers’ third straight division title. The Bears, however, have a transitioning, yet still solid, defense, a passing game that, as previously mentioned, has gotten much more explosive, and they can score; they are a team that knows how to play the Packers tough. They are a real threat, as are the aforementioned Lions, a team with the offense that can score on the Packers. Matt Stafford and company were one of the most lethal passing attacks in both 2011 and 2012, and as a defense they have a scary front, that has since been backed with an improved secondary. The Lions represent the greatest challenge to the Packers in the North for that potential reason, balance. They have an offense that can throw all over the field, an improving running game, a powerful defensive line, and an improving secondary. At the end of the day, however, the Packers are still the most consistent and known commodity heading into the 2013 season. Can they be unseated? Sure, but until we see another team in this division do so, we should continue to predict that these Packers will win the NFC North yet again in 2013.