Nick Wright Picks Every Game: NFC North
We are inching closer to the start of the 2020 NFL season, yet FOX Sports' Nick Wright has had his eye on the schedule since its official release back in May. One day after the full slate was announced, Wright sat down and boldly picked a winner for all 256 games, including the NFC North Division.
So with football right around the corner, let's take a look at Wright's breakdown of the NFC North. And check back the rest of this week as we go through each and every division.
What Nick Says: "The Bears [are] my surprise pick of the entire 2020 NFL Season – 12-4. The Bears won 12 games just two years ago. Last year they won 8 games even though Mitch Trubisky was their quarterback and even though they had awful turnover luck, finishing 28th in the NFL in interceptions. The year before, they were first. You would imagine that will meet somewhere in the middle this year ... I believe the Chicago Bears will be the last undefeated team in the NFL."
The Bears offense stalled in 2019, finishing 29th in the NFL in both points per game (17.5) and yards per game (296.8). They also finished 31st in yards per play (4.7) and 30th in yards per rush (3.7).
It's unclear who will start the 2020 season as the Bears' starter and look to revitalize the offense. Trubisky now has competition in camp after Chicago traded for Nick Foles at the end of March. Interestingly enough, Trubisky has started nearly as many games (41) in his 3-year career as Foles has in his 8-year career (48), but Foles does have the title of 'Super Bowl MVP' in his back pocket.
What Nick Says: "For Green Bay, 12-4 sounds great. Of course, it's not great if you don't end up winning the division and you have to go on the road throughout the whole playoffs ... I think they lose Week 1 and then go on multiple long winning streaks ... Where they really pile up wins is Week 10 through 16 ... I think they get to 12 wins."
Leading the way for the Packers last season was future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who threw less than 9 interceptions for the ninth consecutive season, helping Green Bay register the third-highest turnover differential in the league (+12). The Packers went undefeated in the NFC North – winning by an average of 6.2 points per game – en route to finishing the season at 13-3 and earning a spot in the NFC Championship.
However, their Kryptonite last season seemed to be the San Francisco 49ers. They were dominated by the Niners in Week 12, losing 37-8 on the road, before suffering a similar fate in the NFC title game a little less than two months later, losing 37-20 at San Francisco.
What Nick Says: "They are going to be playing a lot of young players. Kirk Cousins, we know who he is at this point ... The Vikings, I think they are right average – 8-8. I think what kills the Vikings is a brutal early schedule where they have road games at Houston, at Seattle, at Green Bay, at Chicago. I think they can rally and win a bunch of games late, but I think it's going to be over by month three of the season for the Vikings."
The Vikings' early season schedule is indeed brutal. They play five playoff teams from last season in their first seven games, including two matchups with Green Bay and a matchup with Tennessee, two teams that made it to their respective conference championships last season.
While quarterback Kirk Cousins had arguably the best individual season of his career in 2019, he will be without star wide receiver Stefon Diggs this upcoming season, after Diggs was traded to Buffalo during the offseason. Diggs was Minnesota's sole 1,000-yard receiever from last season. Rookie wideout Justin Jefferson will look to fill his shoes this upcoming year.
What Nick Says: "The Lions – 5 wins ... I don't think the Lions are going to be very good. Fortunately for them, they have winnable road games at Arizona, at Jacksonville, at Atlanta, but I don't think the Lions are going to be very good. I don't think Matt Patricia is going to be the coach there much longer and I think the NFC North is brutal for them with two excellent teams in Chicago and Green Bay."
Last season, after winning two of their first three games, the Lions lost three of their next four, and then finished the season on a 9-game losing streak, with QB Matt Stafford missing the final eight games. However, during the losing streak, the Lions lost seven of those nine games by 10 points or less.
Speaking of losing streaks, the Lions are 0-8 in their last eight playoff games and have not won a playoff game since 1991. Before that, they hadn't earned a postseason victory since 1957.
Check back Thursday as Nick Wright previews the NFC South.