The NFC North is going through some changes in 2023. A long-time, storied quarterback is gone, the usual bottom-dweller is surging, and one of the top offenses in the NFL continually gets exposed despite having the best receiver in the game. Realistically, the division seems wide open.
There are questions facing each and every team in the NFC North. Some are a bit more existential than others but one thing is for certain: everyone is glad the NFL is back and all of the off-season talking points will come to an end. With preseason underway, let’s take a look at a few questions looming over the heads of the NFC North.
NFC North Question Marks for 2023
— Robin Adams (@theotherRobin19) September 4, 2023
Can Jordan Love Actually Replace Aaron Rodgers or is it All Talk?
Replacing a legendary quarterback is not an easy feat, just as Aaron Rodgers. Back when Rodgers took over for Brett Favre, there were plenty of questions. He was already in his fourth year with the team after sitting for three and the jury was out on whether or not a first-round pick was warranted. Sound familiar?
Jordan Love is entering his fourth year with the Packers and first as QB1. In his time, he’s appeared in just 10 games with one start. In that lone start in 2021, Love struggled in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He went 19/34 for 190 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
In the first preseason game of this year, he looked fine against the Cincinnati Bengals where he managed 46 yards and a touchdown off of 7/10 passing in two drives. Not everyone was impressed but that’s life.
Taking over for Rodgers is going to be a feat in and of itself. Rodgers is one of the most talent throwers of the football the game has ever seen. We’ll have to wait and see if the ownership of the Bears was passed down to Rodgers’ successor or if it reverted back to the city of Chicago.
Is This the Year Justin Fields Takes a Step?
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The oddest thing about Justin Fields’ career thus far is the fact that his NFL and college careers are so vastly different. No, I don’t mean that he had a better NFL supporting cast at Ohio State (although, the case could be made…). Rather how he is productive in Chicago vs Columbus.
In Big Ten football, Fields was a ridiculous athlete who was very good at passing the football. He was able to fit through in tight windows and make plays with his arm left and right. He showed up with the lights were brightest and has a legitimate argument to be the greatest Ohio State quarterback in program history. At Chicago, the story is a bit different.
He hasn’t had a decent supporting cast around him thus far, so he’s been able to rely on his plus athleticism to carry him to the little success he’s had. Fields is one of the the top rushing quarterbacks in the NFL and he’s barely even scratched what he can do with his arm. Given the lack of offensive line and receiver talent, it makes sense. Not all NFL situations are the same. However, the Bears finally worked to give him help this past offseason.
With a better line and more weapons, could 2023 be the best version of Fields we’ve seen? It’s possible. However, time could be running out for the former first-round pick if he cannot show serious improvement in year three.
Can the Lions Finally Win the Division?
This question is a bit more existential. There are times where just being part of a losing effort begets a losing effort not matter how hard one tries. The Cincinnati Bengals are a prime example of this. Ever since they came into the NFL, the Bengals were a bottom-half franchise. Even when they were good, they just could not get over the hump. Things seem to be changing in Cincinnati, so why not Detroit?
The players love playing for Dan Campbell. The NFL loves Campbell. He’s a player’s coach who is about the antithesis of Bill Belichick. Is his personality enough to break the gerational curse that is the Lions?
Hype can’t carry a team, however. The Lions had a bottom-five defense in both passing and rushing last year. Jared Goff is Jared Goff. They spent a high first-round pick on a running back not names Bijan Robinson. The raised eyebrows and concerns are real.
Even then, the Lions very nearly made the playoffs last year.
Is this Kirk Cousins’ Last Shot with Minnesota Vikings?
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Last year, the Vikings tore through their schedule to a 13-4 record and looked pretty good doing so. They were a ridiculous 11-0 in one-score games. Despite this, many are down on the Vikings in 2023. Considering how ugly those four losses and then the NFC Wild Card were, it makes sense. The Vikings won the award for biggest frauds in 2022. Even then, the safe online casinos have the Vikings as the favorite to repeat.
There were plenty of finger pointing but none moreso than at Kirk Cousins, for better or for worse. Cousins has been a decent-to-good quarterback for his career. However, when you have weapons like Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen, expectations are higher than a one-and-done in the playoffs.
In his five years in Minnesota, Cousins has been pretty good…for the most part. In total, he’s thrown for 20,934 yards and 153 touchdowns. He’s the third-most prolific quarterback in franchise history in just 80 games played. However, some are tiring of him.
Cousins is set to be a free agent in 2024. If the Vikings don’t take the division and shake off the Cousins in primetime curse, he may be looking for work next offseason.