1. Green Bay Packers
Even trading away one of the best receivers in the league, this is still their division to lose.
2. Minnesota Vikings
Hiring new head coach Kevin O’Connell should provide a spark the offense desperately needs. Now the defense on the other hand.
3. Detroit Lions
It’s hard not to root for this franchise to finally turn the corner. Head coach Dan Campbell is the guy that could do that.
4. Chicago Bears
A new era is beginning in Chicago. All eyes will be on QB Justin Fields to see if he can improve upon a forgettable rookie season.
Head Coach: Matt LaFleur
Key Position: Wide Receiver
Outside of what Davante Adams produced last season for Green Bay, the production of the receivers drops off dramatically. RB Aaron Jones was second of the team with 52 receptions to Adams’ 123. Allen Lazard is the default number one receiver for QB Aaron Rodgers. Randall Cobb will see his targets increase and signing Sammy Watkins was an underrated low risk, high reward move. It will be interesting to see if both or one of the rookie wideouts (Watson or Doubs) emerges as a potential number one down the stretch.
Key Acquisitions: DT Jarran Reed (Kansas City Chiefs), WR Sammy Watkins (Baltimore Ravens)
Key Rookies: LB Quay Walker, DL Devonte Wyatt, WR Christian Watson, WR Romeo Doubs
Head Coach: Kevin O’Connell (Los Angeles Rams)
Key Position: Defense
With the new front office and coaching staff in place, they will install a 3-4 scheme to the defense. This means that Danielle Hunter and D.J. Wonnum, their top two leaders in sacks last season will need to adjust to being outside linebackers. This shouldn’t be a problem as the team was second in total sacks last year with 51. Yet, they gave up far too many yards rushing and passing to be considered even an average defense. Adding the likes of Harrison Phillips, Za’Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks should help ease the transition of this defense back to respectability.
Key Acquisitions: DL Ross Blacklock (Houston Texans), LB Jordan Hicks (Arizona Cardinals), DT Harrison Phillips (Buffalo Bills), WR Jalen Reagor (Indianapolis Colts), LB Za’Darius Smith (Green Bay Packers), DL Jonathan Bullard (Atlanta Falcons)
Key Rookies: S Lewis Cine, CB Andrew Booth Jr., G Ed Ingram, LB Brian Asamoah
Head Coach: Dan Campbell
Key Position: Everything
It just has to get better for them doesn’t it? Having the hometown Heisman finalist in Aidan Hutchinson be your first pick of the draft has to be a sign of good things to come? QB Jared Goff wasn’t spectacular or terrible last season, but he’s better than his stats show. Health will be a huge factor for him and thankfully he plays behind one of the better assembled offensive lines in the league. WR Amon-Ra St. Brown was a fantastic receiver for them in his rookie season. That should be duplicated if not outdone this year. The defense has plenty of room for improvement and that will start with having Hutchinson and Charles Harris playing on opposite sides this season. Look for both to have double digit sack totals.
Key Acquisitions: WR DJ Chark (Jacksonville Jaguars), CB Mike Hughes (Kansas City Chiefs), S DeShon Elliott (Baltimore Ravens), LB Chris Board (Baltimore Ravens)
Key Rookies: DE Aidan Hutchinson, WR Jameson Williams, DT Josh Paschal, LB Malcolm Rodriguez
Head Coach: Matt Eberflus (Indianapolis Colts)
Key Position: Offense
This will be a key time for QB Justin Fields and whether he will break the curse of drafted quarterbacks not panning out in Chicago. He has an emerging receiver in Darnell Mooney, but signing the likes of Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown doesn’t exactly bode confidence among the Bears fanbase. Look for tight end Cole Kmet to build off of his solid 2021 season and hopefully get at least one touchdown to show for it. RB David Montgomery is a solid runner and is an underrated threat in the passing game. RB Khalil Herbert showed flashes when he was thrust into a starting role last year and should get more playing time this year.
Key Acquisitions: DT Justin Jones (LA Chargers), OL Alex Leatherwood (Las Vegas Raiders), DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (Indianapolis Colts), WR Byron Pringle (Kansas City Chiefs), T Riley Reiff (Cincinnati Bengals), WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Green Bay Packers), CB Tavon Young (Baltimore Ravens), LB Nicholas Morrow (Las Vegas Raiders)
Key Rookies: CB Kyler Gordon, S Jaquan Brisker, WR Velus Jones Jr., T Braxton Jones