3. NFC North
Jay Cutler has been so bad this season that when he tore his labrum and was replaced with Matt Barkley, many Bears fans saw that as an upgrade. I had almost forgotten Barkley was even still in the league. Cutler has been hurt almost all year, and when he has been healthy (or at least healthy enough to play, as Cutler has a history of toughing it out through injury) he has had the worst statistical season of his career. However, this division also has Aaron Rodgers, Sam Bradford, and Matt Stafford—three quarterbacks who have had odd and misunderstood 2016 campaigns.
No, Rodgers has not been the same MVP-winning, world-beating, magician-like quarterback we have known him to be. But he’s also still on pace for nearly 4,500 yards and 40 touchdowns. So let’s pump the breaks on the Aaron Rodgers has peaked and it’s all downhill from here talk. Bradford probably wishes this season ended after Week 5, but even the criticism here is largely unfair. He’s completing 71.3% of his passes (second in the league) and he’s only thrown three interceptions (albeit some have come at the most inopportune of times, see: Thanksgiving vs. the Lions). And when you consider the fact that he hasn’t had his franchise running back all year, lost both of his starting tackles, has just about no skill players around him, learned the offense in under a week, and had to change offensive coordinators mid-season, well it’s actually kind of a remarkable season. No he’s not great, and probably was not worth giving up all those draft picks for, but one cannot pin all of the Vikings’ recent struggles on Bradford. And while Stafford is not going to reach the 5,000 yards he put up in 2011, the Lions QB been putting together the best campaign of his career this season—despite Calvin Johnson retiring. He’s turned himself into a more accurate passer (nearly 67% completion rate and only 5 interceptions), and has remarkably led seven game-winning drives so far this year. Yes, that is a game-winning drive in every single game that the Lions have won. So while Cutler brings this group down a notch, the top-three QBs in this division are the second best inter-division trio in the NFL.