While the Detroit Lions have made clear improvements in a number of areas, it can be difficult to predict where they will finish within the NFC North. They still have areas of the roster that are less than confidence inspiring at this point and the inconsistency they have shown over the past two seasons means you never know which Lions team will show up. Then factor in that the NFC North is one of the NFL’s best, or at least one of the league’s most balanced, and it is possible the Lions could be vastly improved without a guarantee of much changing in the standings.
The NFC North has been one of the most competitive division in the NFL for the last three seasons with each team registering at least one 10 win season over that time. After successful offseason acquisitions through the draft and through free agency this season shouldn’t be much different. This is one of the few divisions in the NFL where each team has a chance of winning the division.
As things stand now, this is how I see the NFC North playing out in 2013:
4. Chicago Bears: The Bears have addressed their biggest area of concern, the offensive line, with the signing of left tackle Jermon Bushrod and drafting guard Kyle Long in the first round. They also gave Jay Cutler another viable option in the middle of the field in the athletic tight end Martellus Bennett, who is coming off of a solid season where he registered 55 catches, 626 yards, and five touchdowns.
On defensive, the Bears lost Brian Urlacher but signed D.J Williams, a very talented linebacker who is coming off a shortened season due to failing drug tests, to compete for Urlacher’s spot. If Williams doesn’t have any off the field issues he should be a great addition to the defense who may be on their last leg to a championship run. The other linebacker who should be in play to start for the Bears is rookie Khaseem Greene, my favorite linebacker in the 2013 draft class. Green isn’t the best athlete, but he makes up for it in field vision and good cover skills. He should be a perfect fit for the Bears defense.
The Bears have a ton of experience and a talented roster, but how much do they have left in the tank? Maybe new head coach Marc Trestman energizes the team for one or two more productive seasons, but I’m just skeptical of their potential in this division because of the team’s overall age. The team is past its prime and the last two seasons the Bears didn’t finish well after starting strong and missed the playoffs. With the additions the Lions and Vikings have made this offseason, and an already talented roster in place in Green Bay, I don’t feel that the Bears have down enough to contend in the division. I expect them to take a step back, even with a very talented quarterback in Jay Cutler, who is a lot better than he’s given credit for by most fans.