The NFC North has had better weekends. The Lions, Bears, Vikings and Packers all lost games in Week 2, which speaks to the overall health of the division in the early stages of the season.
Right now, the NFC North looks like potentially the weakest division in football, with a young Packers squad and an incomplete Lions team leading the way through two weeks. A lot can change with 15 weeks left in the season, but this division is lagging behind its peers across the league.
Bears fans are probably tired of hearing this, but man, this team is in trouble. General manager Ryan Poles appears to have spent a lot of money and assets on players who aren’t true difference-makers just yet, save for wide receiver DJ Moore, who had his first 100-yard game as a Bear against the Buccaneers. Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards have yet to make their impact as the two leaders at linebacker, Chicago hasn’t generated any semblance of a pass rush and Justin Fields looks like he’ll be playing for a different team this time next year.
Staring down a Week 3 matchup with the Chiefs, the best thing the Bears can say is that at least they’re on track for two high draft picks in 2024. Rough place to be after just two games.
The Vikings are 0-2 and their situation is tough too, but things don’t feel as dismal as where the Bears are. Kirk Cousins is still capable of operating a high-volume passing game as long as Justin Jefferson is still around and the defense has the ability to make splash plays from time to time. Still, it’s easy to see why the Vikings are struggling. They never made a real investment at running back after releasing Dalvin Cook and their defense is a bit top-heavy. The story of the Vikings’ season is one that is reversed from last season. Instead of winning most of their one-score games like they did in 2022, they haven’t been able to close out either of their first two games, losing by three points to the Bucs and six to the Eagles.
The Vikings can still be a tough team to beat as long as they have one of the dominant receivers in football, but getting back to the playoffs looks like a tough ask.
Now for the Packers and Lions — who kind of mirror each other in certain ways, although the Lions are a little further ahead. The Packers have entered a new era with Jordan Love as the starting quarterback and while they’re young and figuring out some growing pains, they definitely have enough talent to compete for the playoffs this season. Once the offensive line talent and running back Aaron Jones get back onto the field, the Packers will have one of the better cores in the NFC North for this year and a group to grow around for the future as they try to quickly recapture their aura as a real deal NFC contender.
The Lions are in a similar spot, but the majority of the talent allocation is stuffed into the offense right now. The defense is still a problem for them, as it gave up 31 of 37 points to the Seahawks at home.
One very bad team, another bad team with a dominant playmaker, a team with a young cast of talent and a team that might not have a defense. Ladies and gentlemen, your 2023 NFC North.
For all of the grief that the NFC South received this offseason, the NFC North looks to be considerably worse through the early portion of the season. Perhaps that will change and the Bears and Vikings start moving in the right direction, but right now this division is facing a dubious path back to relevancy.