The NFL season is just over a month away, and the excitement is building amongst fans of teams in the NFC North.
For the first time in a long time, the division feels up for grabs. Aaron Rodgers is gone, the Lions are the odds-on favorites, Chicago is expected to improve, and the Vikings are returning with a somewhat 'new look' roster.
So how will the division shake out? Here are four bold predictions for the 2023 NFC North.
Vikings Remain NFC North Champs
Minnesota won 11 one-score games last season, setting an NFL record. While many expect the Vikings to take a step back, it's not unthinkable for the team to win back-to-back division titles.
Kirk Cousins is arguably the best quarterback in the division and should be even more comfortable entering his second year under head coach Kevin O'Connell.
The Vikings also hope new defensive coordinator Brian Flores will help rebuild a defense that has struggled the past several years.
According to reports from Minnesota's training camp, the players are buying into the way Flores is running things, which could mean a much-improved defense.
Overall, I believe the Vikings end the season with a 10-7 record and secure the third seed in the NFC.
Jahmyr Gibbs Has Pro Bowl Season
The Detroit Lions are an exciting team to watch as we inch closer to regular season football.
Their thrilling win over the Green Bay Packers to close out the regular season a year ago has Lions fans dreaming of what the 2023 campaign could bring.
One reason to be optimistic is rookie running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
Gibbs rushed for more than 900 yards on 151 carries with Alabama last season. He also scored seven rushing touchdowns. The 21-year-old made a good impression as Detroit drafted him 12th overall in April's NFL Draft.
Not only is Gibbs a threat in the run game, but he can also change the game through the air. One video posted to social media during Lions training camp shows Gibbs running routes.
Expect the Georgia native to have one of the more memorable running back rookie seasons that we've seen in a while, and don't be surprised if he's on the Pro Bowl team come February.
Fields Looks Good; Bears Continue To Build
The 2023 NFL season is massive for the Chicago Bears and their quarterback Justin Fields. The team traded the first overall pick in the previous draft, putting all of their chips on Justin Fields to be a true franchise QB.
Fields has thrown for more than 4,000 yards and 24 touchdowns since his NFL debut in 2021, but for the most part, the organization has failed to build a solid surrounding cast.
To their credit, Chicago added some big names this offseason, including wide receiver D.J. Moore, rookie offensive tackle Darnell Wright and right guard Nate Davis.
The team also added veterans to their defense, as they try to improve a unit that allowed the most points per game in 2022.
In the end, I can see Fields and the offense looking like a middle-of-the-pack group that just can't seem to get over the hump. I have them finishing with an 8-9 record and third in the NFC North.
For the first time in what feels like forever, the Green Bay Packers are entering a season with a bit of uncertainty at quarterback.
24-year-old Jordan Love has spent two full seasons behind future hall of famer Aaron Rodgers, but has that had any benefit? We won't know until the 'real' football kicks off.
If I had to guess, I would say Love struggles in his first full year as the Packers starting QB.
Green Bay will record their first back-to-back losing seasons since 2017-18 and finish last in their division for the first time since 2005.
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