The Detroit Lions will face an uphill battle to become competitive in the NFC North this upcoming season. Especially if this foe bounces back quickly.
The NFC North was flipped on its head in 2018. The previous season, the Minnesota Vikings destroyed the league, racking up an incredible 13-3 record with the improbable Case Keenum under center. The Detroit Lions posted a respectable 9-7 record, but it wasn’t enough to make the playoffs. Head coach Jim Caldwell was promptly fired after a four-year run.
The Green Bay Packers had a 7-9 record with All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers limited to seven games due to injury. Finally, in the basement, was the lowly Chicago Bears was a record of 5-11. With a rookie quarterback under center, the Bears figured to be a couple more years away from contention. Which was great news for Detroit.
Unfortunately, the Lions would find themselves at the bottom of the standings in the NFC North last season, posting a disappointing 6-10 record under new head coach Matt Patricia. The Packers continued to struggle last season as well, posting a 6-9-1 record which led to the firing of their longtime head coach Mike McCarthy.
The Viking took a step back despite landing top quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency. They recorded an 8-7-1 record, missing the playoffs completely. And, in what may have been the biggest surprise in the league in 2018, the Bears would win the division with a 12-4 record, climbing to the top of the NFC North after being bottom-dwellers the season before. Chicago would lose in the Wild Card round of the playoffs to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Lions figure to have a stiff uphill battle on their hands next season if they want to pull a similar resurgence as the Bears have done. Especially if Green Bay bounces back quickly. Here’s what Justin Rogers of The Detroit News had to say about the possible resurgence of the Packers while answering a recent mailbag question.
"“As for the Packers, they figure to make the most noise this offseason. The team has a new coaching staff, which tends to lead to more aggressive roster overhaul, and with $35 million in cap space and two first-round picks, the team is primed for a quick retooling.”"
Anytime you have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers under center, you always have a shot of winning the division. For the Detroit Lions, they will need to make significant strides in 2019 if they are going to defeat the teams within the NFC North, which has quickly become one of the toughest divisions in the entire NFL.