The Detroit Lions face an uphill battle to climb out of the basement of the NFC North as it was recently ranked the NFL’s most competitive division.
After posting three winning seasons in four years under head coach Jim Caldwell, the Detroit Lions opted to make a head coaching change last year. And although the results following the hiring of former New England Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia as Caldwell’s replacement were disappointing, the team appears to be trending upwards after a strong offseason.
After posting a 6-10 record in 2018, the Lions will face a tough uphill battle to climb out of the NFC North basement. All three of their divisional rivals appear to be on the rise.
The Chicago Bears, who were in the basement of the division just a season before at 5-11, found new life under head coach Matt Nagy winning the NFC North crown with a surprising record of 12-4. It’s a turnaround fans of the Motor City undoubtedly hope their team makes in 2019. The Bears are currently the team to beat.
In 2017, it was the Minnesota Vikings who ruled the NFC North with a record of 13-3. It was a magical season with an unlikely hero under center, journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. A last-second victory over the New Orleans Saints appeared to make the Vikings the team of destiny. But a 38-7 slaughter at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles ended their playoff run.
The Vikings landed veteran quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency last offseason in a move that appeared to solidify their future dominance of the division. Instead, Cousins struggled to reproduce Keenum’s success in Minnesota despite posting 4,298 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. But you have to believe they are better than their 8-7-1 record.
Finally, there’s the Green Bay Packers. Winners of the NFC North in 2016, they remain competitive as long as All-Pro quarterback Aaron Rodgers is healthy, which hasn’t been much as of late. The Pack fired longtime head coach Mike McCarthy after the team lost to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13. This offseason, Green Bay hired 39-year old Matt LaFleur to take McCarthy’s place.
LaFleur spent last season as the offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans. He was in the same position for the Los Angeles Rams the year before. With a new, first-time head coach at the helm, the Packers are an unknown quantity in the NFC North, which makes them dangerous.
The NFC North division is shaping up to be the most competitive in the entire NFL in 2019. Here’s what NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal wrote on the league’s official website about the Lions following his placement of the NFC North at the top of his divisional power rankings.
"“The Lions being fourth in line says a lot about the quality of this division. It’s not hard to imagine Detroit winning eight or more games, although playing six games against the teams in this division will make it tougher. The expectations for all four of these teams will be high enough to make disappointment for at least one of them inevitable.”"
The Detroit Lions might be the most intriguing team in the NFC North division. Not only is this the team’s second year under Patricia, but the Lions made some significant additions to their roster this offseason. Detroit signed high-priced veterans in defensive end Trey Flowers, cornerback Justin Coleman and tight end Jesse James in free agency. Plus their draft class included Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, Hawaii linebacker Jahlani Tavai and Boston College safety Will Harris. This is a retooled roster in Detroit that also added Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator.