1. Green Bay Packers
Yes, they were 13-3 last year, but they overachieved. As long as QB Aaron Rodgers stays healthy they will remain contenders.
2. Minnesota Vikings
The defense has been overhauled with many departures, but head coach Mike Zimmer has a good scheme that has stood the test of time.
3. Chicago Bears
Even if they decide at some point to make a change at QB they won’t be any better than a .500 team.
4. Detroit Lions
Head coach Matt Patricia hasn’t improved this team since being hired 3 seasons ago and GM Bob Quinn won’t survive either with another losing season.
Head Coach: Matt LaFleur
Key Position: Defensive Line
They gave up 285 yards rushing in the NFC Championship game last season. Overall the defense was 23rd against the run allowing just over 120 yards per game on the ground. What was done to improve this unit? Not much. They allowed their best tackler LB Blake Martinez to depart via free agency. They replaced him with oft-injured LB Christian Kirksey. DT Kenny Clark is their best lineman on defense. Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster are solid, but they need to be better. Not a single pick was used to provide depth to this unit. Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith were excellent pass rushers, but aren’t the answer for their run defense.
Key Acquisitions: LB Christian Kirksey (Cleveland Browns), OT Rick Wagner (Detroit Lions)
Key Rookies: QB Jordan Love, RB A.J. Dillon, OG Jon Runyan
Head Coach: Mike Zimmer
Key Position: Defense
This unit has been a staple for Minnesota ever since Mike Zimmer was hired seven years ago. This off-season saw the likes of Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Everson Griffen depart and their prize acquisition, DT Michael Pierce, opted out of the 2020 season due to the virus. Trading for DE Yannick Ngakoue at the end of Training Camp was a smart move. The draft was a good one and they used 6 of their first 8 picks to shore up the defense. There are lots of new faces, but the bar is very high for a team that needs to get to the NFC Championship game at minimum or whispers will be going around about Zimmer’s job security.
Key Acquisitions: DE Yannick Ngakoue (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Tajae Sharpe (Tennessee Titans)
Key Rookies: WR Justin Jefferson, CB Jeff Gladney, OL Ezra Cleveland, CB Cameron Dantzler, LB Troy Dye, WR K.J. Osborn
Head Coach: Matt Nagy
Key Position: Quarterback
Too much has been invested in QB Mitchell Trubisky for them not to go with him to start the 2020 season. Bringing in QB Nick Foles puts more pressure on Trubisky to perform, but Foles should not be looked at as a viable replacement. To be fair the offensive line hasn’t been very good since Trubisky arrived, but his decision making since being a starter has been suspect at best. That needs to change this year or he will be another ostracized quarterback in Chicago and head coach Matt Nagy will be let go.
Key Acquisitions: QB Nick Foles (Jacksonville Jaguars), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (New Orleans Saints), S Tashaun Gipson (Houston Texans), TE Jimmy Graham (Green Bay Packers), OL Germain Ifedi (Seattle Seahawks), LB Barkevious Mingo (Houston Texans), LB Robert Quinn (Dallas Cowboys), OL Jason Spriggs (Green Bay Packers), CB Artie Burns (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Key Rookies: TE Cole Kmet, CB Jaylon Johnson, LB Trevis Gipson, WR Darnell Mooney
Head Coach: Matt Patricia
Key Position: Defense
This was supposed to be Patricia’s bread and butter when he was hired 3 years ago. He was the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and as head coach of the Lions he saw this unit become the 31st ranked defense in the league. Injuries were part of the problem, but generating only 28 sacks and having only 7 interceptions don’t help either. They traded their best cornerback in Darius Slay, but drafted his replacement in Jeff Okudah with the 3rd pick. They also brought in three more former Patriots in LB Jamie Collins, DT Danny Shelton and S Duron Harmon. We’ll find out if that ends up paying off, but they had a similar off-season after his first year and ended up winning only 3 games as opposed to 6 the previous season.
Key Acquisitions: LB Jamie Collins (New England Patriots), QB Chase Daniel (Chicago Bears), S Duron Harmon (New England Patriots), RB Adrian Peterson (Washington Redskins), LB Reggie Ragland (Kansas City Chiefs), CB Darryl Roberts (New York Jets), DT Danny Shelton (New England Patriots), CB Desmond Trufant (Atlanta Falcons), OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Philadelphia Eagles), DT Nick Williams (Chicago Bears)
Key Rookies: CB Jeff Okudah, RB D’Andre Swift, DE/LB Julian Okwara, OG Jonah Jackson, OG Logan Stenberg