2016 Finish: Green Bay, Detroit, Minnesota, Chicago
Overall Notes: As long as Aaron Rodgers is healthy, the rest of this division is chasing the Packers. There’s a chance the Vikings catch them, but I’ll always pick Rodgers over Bradford.
Green Bay Packers
2016 Record: 10-6 (Pythagorean Wins: 9.1)
2016 Division Rank: 1st
2016 Injury Rank: 15th
2017 Age Rank: 11th
2016 DVOA Overall 7th (O/D/ST): (4th / 20th / 21st)
This team has a lot of weaknesses. However, they also have Aaron Rodgers and ton of weapons. Jordy Nelson is underrated. Randall Cobb, Devonte Adams, Ty Montgomery, and Martellus Bennett are really good players, too. The offensive line is good, certainly good enough. They’ll be great again on offense this year.
The defense has some issues, though I can see Kevin King making them better.
They were about average in most things last year. Normal injuries, not young, not old, basically hit their Pythagorean projection. It’s a good team, and I think they’ll continue to be good and go 10-6.
2016 Record: 8-8 (Pythagorean Wins: 8.6)
2016 Division Rank: 3rd
2016 Injury Rank: 14th
2017 Age Rank: 20th
2016 DVOA Overall 20th (O/D/ST): (26th / 8th / 10th)
I waffle on the Vikings, mostly because I’m not a Sam Bradford fan. Some of his film is fantastic, but I just see a whole lot of meh. That might be because of what surrounds him, though, and the Vikings do have some things around him. I like Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. It wouldn’t surprise me if Dalvin Cook is the best rookie RB, and certainly an upgrade from the dregs of Adrian Peterson last year. The line has issues, though, and that could really hurt them. Still, I see them getting back towards league average.
On defense, there’s a lot to like, but I look at their age and I wonder. Either this team is at the exact right age where most of its players have their peak year, or they are on the downward side of their career. I’m going to lean towards peak, but I could see it dramatically falling off.
Overall, I think the Vikings take a step forward and compete for a division title and a wildcard at 10-6.
2016 Record: 3-13 (Pythagorean Wins: 4.7)
2016 Division Rank: 4th
2016 Injury Rank: 32nd
2017 Age Rank: 22nd
2016 DVOA Overall 25th (O/D/ST): (17th / 23rd / 18th)
I did not like what the Bears paid to draft Mitch Trubisky, but I have to say I thought the rest of their draft was good. I don’t know that it’ll make a dramatic difference this year, but it’s a nice foundation with Eddie Jackson and Adam Shaheen.
The offense was mediocre last year. I think it will remain so. Glennon or Trubisky will probably be an upgrade at QB, though not much this year. Jordan Howard is a really good RB. The offensive line isn’t bad. However, the receivers are mediocre and while I really like what Shaheen could be, it won’t be this year.
On defense, there’s some nice players but nothing special.
Overall, the Bears were very unlucky with injuries. Assuming they have average luck, I think this team will be a bit better. They were a 5 win team according to their Pythagorean record last year. 7-9 is not out of the question if Glennon or Trubisky improve their QB play, but I’ll actually say 6-10.
2016 Record: 9-7 (Pythagorean Wins: 7.7)
2016 Division Rank: 2nd
2016 Injury Rank: 30th
2017 Age Rank: 12th
2016 DVOA Overall 27th (O/D/ST): (15th / 32nd / 6th)
I am not a fan of Matthew Stafford. If he was really that good, his offense would be better than average. And that’s what this team was last year, average.
I see good players on the offense, but nothing to strike fear in my heart. I really like Larry Wofford, and losing him in free agency will hurt. That offensive line won’t be great.
The defense was awful last year. I don’t see much reason for optimism.
The team will likely be healthier this year, but they were really lucky to be 9-7 last year. I think the luck reverses and they end up around 5-11.