The NFC North Will Provide One Heck of a Challenge in 2018 and Other Bullets

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The NFC North Will Provide One Heck of a Challenge in 2018 and Other Bullets

Chicago Bears

I’m attending the Indianapolis 500 today, which allows me to cross one of the greatest spectacles in sports off the bucket list. Here’s hoping I can knock off a Super Bowl sometime soon.

  • It would be especially neat if I could do the Super Bowl thing where the Bears are featured. Bonus points if Trey Burton is there and repeating his own Super Bowl heroics. Burton showed off his throwing skills once again while throwing out the first pitch before Saturday’s Cubs-Giants game:


A post shared by Trey Burton (@treyburton8) on

  • We’ve discussed the idea of the Bears being one of those teams that comes out of nowhere to make a postseason push after an aggressive offseason of change. But perhaps we should take it a step further and offer up the possibility of the Bears going from worst to first:

  • The biggest challenge for the Bears’ worst-to-first campaign would be the other teams in the division. Dan Hanzus of handicaps the Bears’ postseason odds, but isn’t as optimistic as others – and with good reason. “We like the Bears and their future prospects,” Hanzus writes. “… the only problem is, we like the Packers and the Vikings a lot more in 2018.”
  • Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of the USA Today echoes those sentiments, noting that the Bears went winless against division foes last year, and don’t figure to have the firepower that Minnesota has with its loaded roster and the high-end talent Green Bay can deploy.
  • The NFC North figures to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. The Vikings have made the postseason twice in the last three seasons, while the Packers’ run of consecutive playoff berths ended last year. Even the Lions, who haven’t won a playoff game in decades, were a game away from winning the division in 2016 and finished with a non-losing record in 2017. The division will be closely contested, but that means there will be a team on the outside looking in at the end of the season.
  • Matt Nagy isn’t the only one installing a new offense this offseason. Remember, Minnesota is undergoing changes after Pat Shurmur left to take the New York Giants head coaching position. Shurmur was replaced by a fellow Bears head-coaching candidate John DeFilippo, who is fresh off earning a Super Bowl championship as the Eagles’ QBs Coach. It hasn’t been perfect, but DeFilippo tells Mike Max of CBS Minnesota that the team is making progress in their preparation for the 2018 campaign.
  • Detroit figures to have a different look with a new head coach and defensive leadership, but the offense might be tweaked a bit in order to capitalize on what LeGarrette Blount brings to the table. Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press writes that Blount will bring a different element to Detroit’s offense, which has been pass-oriented for quite some time. It’s been a while since the Lions have had a reliable running game, and Blount says he signed with Detroit with the intent of changing that.
  • Quarterback play in the division is expected to be top notch again. Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford have long been thorns in the side of the Bears, so adding Kirk Cousins to the list of opponents isn’t going to make things any easier. The trio of Rodgers, Stafford, and Cousins have combined to make eight Pro Bowls. Not only does Rodgers’ eight appearances lead the way in that category, he is the only signal caller in the division who has quarterbacked his team to a postseason win.
  • Looking for a worst-to-first squad that might be more likely to bank on? Check out the Houston Texans. Hall of Fame running back Terrell Davis believes Deshaun Watson is the injured star of 2017 who returns to glory in 2018. Watson threw 19 touchdowns in seven games before suffering a season-ending ACL injury. His ability to create big plays galvanized what was otherwise a bland Houston offense. Even though the 3.9 percent interception rate is a cause for concern, Watson could offset those issues by continuing to throw touchdowns at a 9.3 percent clip.
  • Not to be left out, Adam Rank chimes in on the roundtable discussion and offers up Bears wideout Allen Robinson as the star who returns to form post-injury. Rank sees Robinson being on the receiving end of enough Mitch Trubisky passes that allows them to form the best QB-WR combo Chicago has had since Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. Now, that would sure be something.
  • For what it’s worth, Cutler posted a 90.6 passer rating when throwing to Marshall during the receiver’s Pro Bowl seasons of 2012 and 2013. Remember how much fun plays like this were?

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.