NFL: Sizing Up The 2017 NFC North

Charles “The Prodigy” Richey is an on-air host and producer for chicagolandsportsradio.com, he writes on the NFC North for WARR

As another NFL season absorbs our attention, now is a good time to wonder if the NFC North still a lock for the ever-competitive Green Bay Packers or will the division be more up for grabs.

The entire North was fortunate enough to open Week 1 of the season at home and the Pack, Detroit and Minnesota all rode that scheduling quirk to wins while Chicago suffered the lone loss despite being competitive.

Week 1 proved in many ways that nothing could be taken for granted in the race to challenge the Packers for the NFC North crown. Let’s look at a series of my thoughts and predictions for each team so far.

Green Bay

Thoughts: The Pack Attack started off the season against the Seattle Seahawks in Lambeau Field.

Green Bay’s offense could have started much better, it was held scoreless in the first half by the hard-hitting Seabirds, but the defense was able to take down Russell Wilson three times in the contest. 

Thanks in large part to defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ scheming the Pack were able to shut down Seattle’s running attack. The Seahawks were held to only 90 yards total with 40 of those yards being led by Russell Wilson.

As Seattle tried to find space on the scoreboard it was no surprise to find that “Bad Man,” No. 12, quarterback Aaron Rodgers started heating up, throwing for a TD in the third and leading another drive which resulted in a rushing TD by Ty Montgomery.

Predictions: The Packers will be on the road Sunday Night in the opener of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, a city where they were dominated in the NFC Championship Game earlier this year, 44-21.

The Packers will once again have their hands full with the League MVP in Matt Ryan. It will be key that the Packers get after Matt Ryan early in where they failed to do in the NFC Championship Game. Give me the Falcons at home in this one, but it will be close, 27-23.

This game should give a clear understanding to who among them belongs with the clear-cut contenders for the NFC title.

Minnesota

Thoughts: The Minny Vikings, now officially moved on from the presence of former franchise back Adrian Peterson, seemed to have no problem in handling the New Orleans Saints in the first Monday Night Football contest this year.

Rookie 2nd round draft pick Dalvin Cook made quite a debut, picking up 127 Yards on the ground along with three receptions for 10 yards. Who needs AD, huh?

This is a team looking to try and get back in the dance to challenge for the NFC North and they may have as much talent on both sides of the ball as anyone.

Predictions: The Vikings will be visiting Pittsburgh in Week 2, they have split their meetings with the Steel City in the last 10 years, this should be another competitive contest.

The Vikes offense will have their hands full defending a Pittsburgh pass rush that generated seven sacks in Cleveland im their Week 1 victory. Starting QB Sam Bradford — who experienced swelling, pain, and discomfort in his knee following the Saints victory — will have to hope he can hold up physically. That type of news could be worrisome to those who’ve followed the injury-plagued signal caller since his Oklahoma days.

I expect a battle of defenses in this one, with the Steelers finding a way to maintain a 24-17 edge to win.

Detroit

Thoughts: The Lions’ “Million Dollar Man,” Matthew Stafford, and his offense made a statement with a convincing 35-23 win over the Arizona Cardinals to begin the season.

This Detroit team is looking to win their first division title in 26 years. What else is there to say? The Lions seem to always come up short to one of their division rivals, no matter who is hot among Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago.  

Receiver Kenny Golloday is trying to build a rapport with Stafford and may be set up to be the latest Lions big play wideout as he displayed his catching ability well in the fourth quarter last Sunday. A Chicago product, from St. Rita High School and Northern Illinois University, will get a chance to show the world how much he can do this Monday night when they visit the New York Giants.

Predictions: Expect the Lions to come out swinging and take advantage of a quarterback in Eli Manning who in many eyes has his days numbered as an “ELIte.”

I expect the Lions to come back down to earth as the Giants should snap out of their funk, because Gotham’s team needs to do that in a hurry if they’re going to be considered Super Bowl contenders much beyond this week. 

Detroit itself needs to prove that they can still hang in the NFC and in the North but they have a secure QB situation and a lot of younger talent they’re trying to cultivate — much more of a “house money” situation than what NY is dealing with.

Chicago

Thoughts: You can get plenty more on the Midway Monsters elsewhere here on WARR.com, but I’ll offer a couple quick thoughts — expect another last place finish for this team, its fourth in a row, as it continues stringing together moral victories like it did against Atlanta.

Eventually the Bears will have to play for more than pride, but it won’t be this week at Tampa Bay, it may not be until Mitch Trubisky is inserted, which I predict will happen by the contest with San Francisco on Dec. 3rd.

Follow Charles at his personal blog; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio

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