The 2022 Draft is done, and many of the big roster moves have already gone through, so this is a good time to take stock and attempt an early preview of the ever-fascinating NFC North in 2022. Will the Packers get the better of the Vikings again? Will the Bears mount a challenge and could Detroit finally be in a position to be relevant?
Fans and bettors looking for the best NFL game odds will be weighing up the series of changes in this Division. New general managers and head coaches have been hired by the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, respectively. The Green Bay Packers also transferred standout wide receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders after signing Aaron Rodgers to a huge new contract. So how will these moves affect the season ahead?
What to Expect From the NFC North in 2022 Season
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay reached an agreement with Aaron Rodgers early in the summer, giving him $150m over the next three years. Following that, they dealt standout wide receiver Davante Adams to the Raiders in Las Vegas. Even with Adams on the roster, the Packers were probably short on wide receivers, so after a trade with the Vikings, they signed Sammy Watkins and drafted Christian Watson in the second round.
Even if Christian Watson is a hit, the Packers’ receiving corps remains thin, but with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, they will still be dangerous. Since Matt LaFleur took over as head coach, the Packers have dominated the NFC North thanks to Aaron Rodgers and their excellent defense. They have some challenging games on the schedule, as should be the case for a previous year’s division winners and they may not be able to dominate as completely as they have in the past.
The Vikings must make up a five-game deficit from last season, when they won eight games to the Packers’ 13. They have a good chance to close the gap, but can they overtake the Packers?
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell have done a great job so far. They’ve mostly addressed the team’s weaknesses, and you can see a collective identity forming. However, this kind of project takes time, so don’t expect them to take over the league in their first season.
Injuries could be crucial. If Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith, Christian Darrisaw and Irv Smith, as well as the other big-name players can play 17 games, the Vikings have a good chance of competing for NFC North in 2022, with some damage in the playoffs a possibility.
Detroit has been struggling for a long time but although they don’t have the results to show for it yet, they are moving in the right direction. Moving Matthew Stafford gave new general manager Brad Holmes and head coach Dan Campbell a blank slate to develop their squad.
Jared Goff was acquired as part of the Stafford trade, and he will continue to lead the Lions into their second season, while they have some major offensive weapons thanks to the infamous trade with the Vikings to get Jameson Williams and the addition of DJ Chark. The team is playing hard, but as they discovered last season, altering a losing culture can be difficult even when you’re playing well, so getting up around .500 may be their target this season.
When the Chicago Bears went to the NFC championship game in 2018 during Matt Nagy’s first year as head coach, the future looked bright in Chicago. That turned out to be misleading.
In last year’s Draft, the Chicago Bears went all-in on Justin Fields, but while Fields had a solid first season and has the potential to lead the Bears for the next 10 years, the problem was that everything around him fell apart, with star players such as Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and Allen Robinson leaving town.
Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy were sacked as general manager and head coach, respectively, and were replaced by Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus, who now have to carry out a significant rebuilding project.
Even if Justin Fields proves to be the man to lead the franchise towards divisional and playoff success, it may take the Bears the whole term of his rookie contract to assemble a strong squad around him. While they were busy in the Draft, taking 11 players, there are some obvious gaps in their roster, so unless the likes of Jaquan Brisker and Kyler Gordon can make an immediate impact, this could be another long hard season for the Bears.