NFL kicks off Thursday night with a huge NFC North matchup to start the season. It’s a testament to how nationally-appealing the division is that the league would decide to begin their 100th season with a matchup between the Bears and Packers.
This promises to be a competitive division again this season, with literally any of the four teams capable of coming away victorious. Yes, even the Detroit Lions.
So to preview the 2019 NFL season, here are our picks for the NFC North 2019 champion.
Hamza Baccouche: Detroit Lions
This is the year, baby. I usually don’t drink the kool-aid, but I’m really starting to see Bob Quinn and Matt Patricia’s vision materialize. Patricia has the players for his defense, folks are coming to Detroit to play for him and are buying into the system, and the new offense seems to be a much better fit for the personnel the two have brought to Detroit.
Kyle Yost: Green Bay Packers
It is always fun to hate on the Packers, but doing so can mask how strong the team has been recently. Aaron Rodgers is back healthy, and the Green Bay offense should go back to its typical well-oiled production. New head coaches do face an uphill challenge, but there is enough talent on both sides of the ball to win a wide-open division.
Ryan Mathews: Minnesota Vikings
This pick is sponsored by Jeremy Reisman.
Mike Payton: Chicago Bears
I want to say the Lions. I really do. They are capable of pulling it off if they stay healthy and reach their potential. Really, this division isn’t as sewed up as we think it is. All four teams have giant questions surrounding them. All four teams could come out and win this thing. So I have to go with the team that has the least amount of questions. That team is the Chicago Bears.
Justin Simon: Minnesota Vikings
I‘m going to go with the Vikings. They have the most consistent pieces coming back in the division. There will be severe growing pains for the Packers under Matt LaFleur, and the Bears will learn just how important Vic Fangio was to that franchise. I think the Lions could be sneaky good, but I’m not drinking Division-Winning Kool-Aid quite yet.
Jeremy Reisman: Chicago Bears
Like pretty much everyone, I see regression in Chicago’s future. But this is a team that went 12-4 last year and probably should’ve made a deep run in the playoffs. Their only weaknesses remain kicker, a growing quarterback and the loss of their defensive coordinator. But talent trumps everything, and aside from Mitchell Trubisky, this is the most talented roster in the division.
Green Bay’s offense will continue to be a work in progress, the Vikings’ offensive line will continue to cause them serious troubles, and while I’m high on the Lions this year, I still think they’re a week away from grabbing that crown.
This is Chicago’s division to lose.
Chris Perfett: Minnesota Vikings
I honestly could see the Vikings in the Super Bowl. Not because of any particular excellence, but it just seems like it makes sense.
I don’t need to see the world from Kirk Cousins, but he should be serviceable with a proper offense up there. He’s got great receivers to work with, and Dalvin Cook should remain healthy if the Norse gods are kind. Just sacrifice Vedvik to Odin and find a proper kicker and all should be good until like, the NFC Championship or something. I think the Bears will be competitive but unable to top Minnesota, the Lions ain’t going nowhere fast, and the Packers will feel some middle-aged pangs with the current strife they suffer.
Health will once again play a role for the Vikings, but that’s not exactly a controllable function. Nevertheless, they look poised to stir up a North otherwise destined for anemic faffing about.
Andrew Kato: Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota is a stable, complete team with a proven veteran quarterback and a presumably healthy Dalvin Cook. The Vikings are a tough pick because they seem to always look good on paper without delivering in the playoffs, but the other teams in the division all have genuinely new systems coming in. “New” offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is not really a change for Minnesota, and the Zimmer/Edwards defense is the same longtime crew. Like everyone else, I wonder about the offensive line, but otherwise this team is very well put together.
John Whiticar: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings will win the NFC North. I firmly believe that they have one of the best rosters in the NFL. They have an offense with two excellent receivers, a solid running back, a quarterback that, frankly, is underappreciated. Coupled with their still-stout defense, it’s hard not to see them top the division.
Who will win the NFC North this season?
This poll is closed