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Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings lead loaded division in NFC North preview

Breaking down the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings heading into the new season.

Jay Asser 2018/09/04

Arguably the best division in football this season, the NFC North is stacked with teams that are, at best, Super Bowl contenders, and at worst, capable of making the playoffs.

At the top, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers are built for January with the former possessing a dominant defence and the latter boasting the best quarterback in the game.

The Detroit Lions may take a step forward with a new head coach, while the Chicago Bears have vastly improved the roster and could be on the rise sooner than later.

Learn more about the teams with our NFC North team guides.

CHICAGO BEARS

Head coach: Matt Nagy

Star player: Khalil Mack

Last season: 5-11

Key ins: Khalil Mack (Oakland), Trey Burton (Philadelphia), Taylor Gabriel (Atlanta), Allen Robinson (Jacksonville), Roquan Smith (rookie), James Daniels (rookie), Anthony Miller (rookie)

Key outs: Josh Sitton (Miami), Pernell McPhee (Washington), Cameron Meredith (New Orleans)

Strengths: Trade for Mack makes their front seven even more formidable.

Weaknesses: Offence has the potential to thrive, but has several question marks, including Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback.

Verdict: They’ve upped the urgency to win now and have the talent to vie for a playoff spot.

DETROIT LIONS

Head coach: Matt Patricia

Star player: Matthew Stafford

Last season: 9-7

Key ins: LeGarrette Blount (Philadelphia), Eli Harold (San Francisco), Kerryon Johnson (rookie), Frank Ragnow (rookie)

Key outs: Eric Ebron (Indianapolis), D.J. Hayden (Jacksonville), Haloti Ngata (Philadelphia), Dwight Freeney (retired)

Strengths: Golden Tate and Marvin Jones were the only receiver duo in the league last season to both top 1,000 yards.

Weaknesses: Ranked dead last in rushing last year, although they’ve addressed that by bringing in Blount and Johnson.

Verdict: Even though they’re better on paper than last year, they’ll struggle to come out of one of the toughest divisions.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Head coach: Mike McCarthy

Star player: Aaron Rodgers

Last season: 7-9

Key ins: Jimmy Graham (Seattle), Muhammad Wilkerson (NY Jets), Tramon Williams (Arizona), DeShone Kizer (Cleveland), Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville), Jaire Alexander (rookie), Josh Jackson (rookie)

Key outs: Jordy Nelson (Oakland), Damarious Randall (Cleveland), Morgan Burnett (Pittsburgh)

Strengths: Have the best quarterback in the league, who is fully healthy and back on the field.

Weaknesses: Surrendered the second-highest passer rating to quarterbacks last year (102.0).

Verdict: Always a Super Bowl contender with Rodgers, but need to hit on the changes they’ve made.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Head coach: Mike Zimmer

Star player: Harrison Smith

Last season: 13-3, lost in NFC Championship

Key ins: Kirk Cousins (Washington), Sheldon Richardson (Seattle), George Iloka (Cincinnati), Mike Hughes (rookie), Brian O’Neill (rookie)

Key outs: Sam Bradford (Arizona), Teddy Bridgewater (New Orleans), Tramaine Brock (Denver), Jerick McKinnon (San Francisco), Case Keenum (Denver), Joe Berger (retired)

Strengths: Defence allowed the fewest yards (275.9) and points (15.8) in the league last year.

Weaknesses: Banged up offensive line is the biggest area of concern.

Verdict: Oozing with talent as legit Super Bowl challengers.

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Aaron Rodgers Chicago Bears Detroit Lions Golden Tate Green Bay Packers Khalil Mack Kirk Cousins Matt Nagy Matthew Stafford Minnesota Vikings