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NFC North Teams Flawed Enough for Bears to Win It

Analysis: Everybody thinks their own problems are worse but Bears fans need to stop and take a look around the NFC North because there are plenty of reasons to dislike the chances of Bears rivals

It's easy to become mired in all the offseason negativity flowing the Bears' way.

When every website from Pro Football Focus to Bunion Buster Focus calls the Bears' offseason moves mediocre to disastrous, it's easy to climb on top of the critics' dog pile . 

That pile usually starts on top of Mitchell Trubisky, even if he isn't going to wind up as the Bears' starter.

Those inclined to kick around the Bears need to remember something: Everyone has problems, and that includes the other teams in the NFC North.

Too much credit is being given to the drafts the other NFC North teams had. Those are drafts they may see a windfall from in 2021 or 2022, but not this season.

The Bears can win the NFC North this season basically because of what their opponents within the division have failed to do or have done, let alone making steady incremental improvement themselves.

Green Bay Packers

Packer fans still are trying to figure out the logic behind their team making wide receiver a position of low priority while drafting another running back and a backup quarterback. Sure, it's going to help in the future. Boston College running back A.J. Dillon might even help somewhat right away in spot play. Two key free agents they did bring in spent a ton of time watching with injuries last year and even the year before, wide receiver Devin Funchess and linebacker Christian Kirksey. They did nothing to correct their biggest defensive weakness, stopping the run, which the 49ers easily found in the NFC championship game. Kirksey is supposed to be their answer to losing inside linebacker Blake Martinez and is supposed to be better against the pass. No one has called him a force against the run. Yet it was their run defense that was weak. Their offensive line obviously grew weaker when they lost Bryan Bulaga and had to bring in Detroit's Rick Wagner, who allowed three sacks and had an anemic Pro Football Focus grade of 59.0 last year. The Packers have something else working against them the Bears found out about first hand last year. It's called regression. After a team takes big stride in victories, they inevitably slide. The NFC championship game showed real Packer weaknesses to be exploited this year and, oh yes, Aaron Rodgers isn't getting any younger.

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Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings gutted their defense and lost key players Everson Griffen, Linval Joseph, Stephen Weatherly, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes and Mackensie Alexander. They'll rebuild on the fly with less experienced players at their positions or with rookies. At least the offense is strong. Or at least it was. Then they dealt Stefon Diggs, a constant thorn in the Bears' sides, to Buffalo. The Vikings are a team counting far too much now on younger, untested players, and it also must be pointed out they haven't beaten the Bears since 2017, before Matt Nagy arrived as coach. They made it into the playoffs last year at 10-6 and were the league's healthiest team, having the fewest games lost year to injuries (76). What happens with a younger, less experienced lineup, one with less depth and more injuries?   Also, at last check Khalil Mack was still on the Bears and seems to have Kirk Cousins' number.

Detroit Lions

It's being suggested in numerous internet locations that the Lions could have the best secondary in the NFC North. Drafting cornerback Jeff Okudah does not necessarily make a team better, especially when they had a very good cornerback in Darius "Big Play" Slay. He knew the defense well and the NFL's receivers, but they let Slay leave in free agency. Detroit finished last in the NFL against the pass last season. Teams don't make that big of a transformation after so woeful of a performance. They were 21st against the run and lost their best run stuffer, Snacks Harrison, but they have brought in the Bears' Nick Williams on the defensive line. It's the same Nick Williams who in the final seven games last year made no sacks, no quarterback pressures and no tackles for loss. Even with Akiem Hicks injured two-thirds of the season Williams could find his way into the starting lineup just five times, the first five starts of his NFL career. He's in his 30s now and during the previous season he watched as a Bears game-day inactive 14 times. The Lions better hope they can keep Matthew Stafford healthy this season because they'll need to win wild shootouts. Their defense is counting on wishful thinking to improve. They still start linebacker Christian Jones, a former Bears player who wouldn't have made Chicago's roster after leaving after 2017. 

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