The NFC North is one of the most difficult divisions in the entire National Football League. The Green Bay Packers have dominated the division in recent years, winning six titles in the last nine campaigns, and they somehow gritted out 13 wins a year ago to take another title. The Minnesota Vikings also hit double digits in wins last year, with 10, and won a wild card playoff game in New Orleans. The Chicago Bears had won a dozen games in 2018 and managed to win eight in 2019 without an NFL-caliber quarterback. The Detroit Lions are the outlier, but they are scary enough to win games that they shouldn’t. If you are considering including NFL futures in your sports betting, take a look at our thoughts on the Lions’ free agency moves. Check out the updated NFL Odds and Super Bowl Odds for the NFC North for this upcoming 2020 NFL Season.
NFL: NFC North Free Agency Thoughts After Week 1
The Bears made a trade to get Nick Foles from the Jacksonville Jaguars. He’s the latest experiment at quarterback for a team that has made a number of mistakes at that position. Foles is just two years removed from being a Super Bowl MVP, but he has never produced anywhere besides Philadelphia. But why didn’t the Bears go after one of the many better quarterbacks, such as Teddy Bridgewater, Cam Newton or Jameis Winston?
The Bears also brought in edge rusher Robert Quinn from Dallas. He will make their pass rush better, but the Bears paid a premium on his deal. Tight end Jimmy Graham, who may be two or three years past his prime at this point, joins the offense, which is somewhat of a surprise given how poorly he played for the Packers (whom the Bears saw twice last season). A good signing was Danny Trevathan, to join Roquan Smith at inside linebacker. Artie Burns should make a decent cornerback, but Seattle got Quinton Dunbar via trade for just a fifth-round draft pick, and Dunbar is better. The team lost Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Chase Daniel, Leonard Floyd, Nick Kwiatkoski, Nick Williams, Prince Amukamara and Taylor Gabriel, through free agency.
Things don’t seem to be going very well for Matt Patricia in Detroit. The Lions traded their best defensive player, Darius Slay, to Philadelphia — and only got third- and fifth-round draft picks in return. After he had left the team, Slay went public with his feelings about the low quality of Patricia’s coaching methods.
The free agents that the Lions brought in don’t make much sense either. They gave Halapoulivaati Vaitai a big sack of cash, even though he has only rarely played as a starter. Losing Rick Wagner and Graham Glasgow via free agency and only replacing them with Vaitai leaves the Lions’ offensive line in tatters, which will make life tougher for quarterback Matthew Stafford, who put up solid numbers in 2019.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay saw right tackle Bryan Bulaga and linebacker Blake Martinez go out the door. They would have had to overpay to keep either one of them. Rick Wagner will be a serviceable at right tackle, and Christian Kirksey is a solid addition at linebacker, so the Packers have plugged the holes in their lineup, but it’s hard to say that the replacements are as good.
Why did the Packers sign Devin Funchess? It’s true that Aaron Rodgers needed another target besides Davante Adams. However, Funchess has not been able to gain separation for several seasons now. The Packers have basically remained where they were, which might be enough to win the division given the losses that the Bears and the Packers had.
The Vikings lost three cornerbacks, a starting defensive tackle and their second-best pass rusher to free agency. They traded Stefon Diggs to Buffalo, but they did get a ton of draft picks, including a first-rounder. They signed Kirk Cousins to an extension, which was smart, because there is no one better available via free agency. They put the franchise tag on Anthony Harris, who picked off six passes last year, a career best. With all of those holes in the roster, the Vikings have some work to do if they want to contend in the division.