How Every NFC North Team Can Make Or Miss The Postseason


The major free agency moves have been made, the draft has concluded. Teams have begun OTAs and will prepare for training camps in a few weeks. Barring any major injuries or trades, our rosters for the 2016 NFL season are pretty much set. Every team believes they can make the postseason and every team also thinks they’ve got a shot at the Lombardi trophy. Although we know that’s more true for some teams than others, it’s still interesting to see how each team can get there.  Today we’ll take a look at each team’s best potential path to make the NFL postseason when all the dust settles come January 2017.

NFC North

DETROIT LIONS

Stafford and Tate

det.247sports.com

Can make the Postseason if:

Matthew Stafford can take the reigns as the leader of this team in the absence of Calvin Johnson and show some consistency. In 6 of their first 8 games, Stafford had at LEAST one turnover (the Lions went 1-7). Compare that with the back half of the season where Stafford only had two games with turnovers and the Lions finished 6-2 down that stretch. This offense runs through Stafford and his ability to keep the ball in their hands.

Will miss the Postseason if:

They continue to struggle running the football. No running back for Detroit managed a 100-yard game last season. None. Not Abdullah, not Bell, and not Zenner. Can’t continue to put Stafford in lose-lose situations behind the line of scrimmage. They’ve got a nice arsenal of backs, and have guys who can catch out the backfield, as well as play pass coverage. The talent is there, but Caldwell and Cooter need to make the best of it.

GREEN BAY PACKERS

Rodgers and that guy from UCLA

Courtesy: JSOnline

Can make the Postseason if:

Last year Rodgers lost some of his biggest weapons and eventually had to rely upon James Jones and his hoodie to win games down the stretch. They still made the postseason. Really, as long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, they’re in.

Will miss the Postseason if:

They lose weapons again and are left without much depth. The Packers offense relies on a multitude of guys being able to do several things well. When you have to rely on young guys who may not have small things like double-moves and technique down yet, your offense struggles. Packers should be fine regardless, they have one of the best QBs in the game, only surefire way they miss the postseason is without him.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS

jea 1930 vikings day2

twincities.com

Can make the postseason if: 

Laquon Treadwell becomes everything they hope he would be. Even with no major receiving threat, the Vikings managed to make the postseason last year, outright winning the North and being a missed chip shot field goal away from knocking off Seattle. This is a good team, a strong defensive team that relies on its offense for ball control. Adding Treadwell to the mix will give Bridgewater a reliable receiver who can go up and fight for the ball. This offense isn’t going to change: they’re not about to start trying to really stretch the field, just move inch by inch and take time off the clock.

Will miss the postseason if:

We see zero improvement from Teddy Bridgewater. Bridgewater was the 3rd most sacked QB in the league last season behind Colin Kaepernick and Marcus Mariota. He holds onto the ball way too long and can take forever to make a decision. No offensive line in the NFL is going to consistently give you 3+ seconds to get rid of the football. He has to understand how to make better pre-snap reads and process the adjustments a defense might make on the fly. If he can’t do that, Minnesota will be sitting at home in January.

CHICAGO BEARS

Cutler Bears 2015

Courtesy: TheComeback.com

Can make the postseason if: 

We get the good Jay Cutler more than the bad Jay Cutler. I know that’s a very basic remark to make, but it’s true. You can’t turn the ball over in the style of offense John Fox likes to hold his teams to. Cutler did a fantastic job last season and needs to continue the trend. He’ll be missing long-time running back Matt Forte, but gets a nice little stable in the long run, one that includes last year’s standout backup Jeremy Langford.  Langford rushed for 537 yards and 6 TDs in relief of Forte last season and is the frontrunner to take his spot, however, the Bears also drafted former UAB/Indiana standout RB Jordan Howard. Howard is a downhill, bruiser type running back who fits the style of offense Fox wants to play. So we will likely see Howard, it’s just a matter of how much time he’ll earn. If Langford and Howard complement each other as well as many think, the Bears should find themselves in position to win a lot of close games. Last year’s 1st round pick Kevin White is back and should be able to put up big numbers for Cutler.

Will miss the postseason if:

Turnovers happen and they can’t produce a run game. Their defense needs some help, and while they rebuild they’re going to have to win games through this offense. If there is no offense, then, well, disaster.

 

 

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