The NFL season is finally upon us and that means it’s time for my second annual NFC North predictions. Week one features a divisional match up between the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions, an NFC powerhouse match up between the Packers and 49ers, and a tough test for first year coach Marc Trestman and the Bears as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Nov 11, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Detroit Lions running back Joique Bell (35) gets tackled by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Jasper Brinkley (54) with safety Jamarca Sanford (33) and safety Harrison Smith (22) and defensive end Everson Griffen (97) approaching in the first quarter at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s kick this thing off…
Minnesota Vikings at Detroit Lions
The Vikings have the best running back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson, but their passing game is still a work in progress. The Vikings did a great job acquiring talent on the outside in the explosive Cordarrelle Patterson and Greg Jennings, but I’m still not sold on Christian Ponder who has made a living handing the ball off to Peterson and completing short passes. Against the Lions, who have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL, the Vikings are going to have to rely on Christian Ponder stretching the defense to create for his all-pro back and I don’t see that happening. If the Lions can keep the Vikings special teams unit from scoring two touchdowns like they did early last season, they should be able to win their home opener.
Prediction: Lions win 31-24
Cincinnati Bengals at Chicago Bears
This could be the year for the Bengals as many experts have them making the Super Bowl. I’m not sure if the Bengals are a Super Bowl team yet, but they certainly have an advantage against the Bears who have struggled to protect Jay Cutler in the past with one of the most dominant defensive lines in the NFL. In the end I think the revamped Bears offense won’t be good enough to give Cutler the time he needs to throw, resulting in too many stalled drives. Maybe if these two teams were playing later in the season I’d give the edge to the Bears, but I think the offense will need a few games to figure things out.
Prediction: Bengals win 27-21
Shack’s Game Of the Week: Green Bay Packers at San Fransisco 49ers
I’ve said it many times this offseason and I’ll say it again, the NFC North is wide open for the taking thanks to the injuries along the Packers offensive line. While I still believe Aaron Rodgers is a top three quarterback in the league, and I believe the Packers will be better in the run game, I simply don’t believe their offensive line is good enough to compete against the best front seven in football that is the 49ers defense in Candlestick Park.
Prediction: 49ers win 33-24