How will the NFCN shake out this year?
Pi’s unbiased predictions.
Detroit Lions 16-0
Chicago Queers 0-12-4
Green Bay Fudge Packers 0-12-4
Minnesota Viqueens 0-12-4
All 3 are on the merry go round looking for a new QB in the draft. Too bad they don’t have a $135 million stud muffin.
Now some real NFL analysis.
Ceiling: 9-7. John Fox pushes back against his better judgement, starting Mitchell Trubisky under center. The kid responds with a Matt Ryan-esque rookie season. The Bears limit Trubisky’s pass attempts to fewer than 30 in most games, allowing a standout offensive line and Jordan Howard to carry much of the load. The front seven stays healthy, while Leonard Floyd becomes a double-digit sack guy.
Floor: 2-14. Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and Kyle Fuller have trouble staying healthy and on the field. The secondary carries 2016 over into 2017. Howard slogs through a sophomore slump, while a brewing QB controversy stifles any momentum the Bears can muster. I think Chicago will fare much better than this, but …
Ceiling: 12-4. Matthew Stafford continues the pull-games-out-of-our-a#%-fourth quarters, enabling the Lions to take a few games they probably shouldn’t. Ameer Abdullah provides long-needed balance, staying on the field and on pace for 1,100 rushing yards. First-round pick Jarrad Davis carries his solid camp performance into the season, making the Detroit defense more active.
Floor: 5-11. Abdullah gets hurt … again. Marvin Jones suffers an up-and-down season, while preseason sensation Kenny Golladay shows he’s not quite ready to be the WR2. Ziggy Ansah takes longer than expected to return to 100 percent, with the pass rush unable to impose its will enough to cover for a secondary that, well, couldn’t cover in 2016. What accounts for the wild swing between floor/ceiling? All the close calls this Detroit team has.
Tipping point: Maybe Eric Ebron emerges as a Pro Bowler in 2017, pushing the 20th-ranked scoring offense into the top 10 … maybe.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Ceiling: 13-3. Much must go right to hit 13-3, like the offensive line staying healthy and cohesive. Rookie Jamaal Williams provides Mike McCarthy with a three-down back to protect late leads so Aaron Rodgersdoesn’t have to do it all by himself. Mike Daniels, Clay Matthews and Nick Perry must generate enough of a pass rush so the offense doesn’t have to put up 30 points to win every week.
Floor: 8-8. Free-agent acquisition (a rarely used phrase in the Ted Thompson era) Jahri Evans struggles to replace T.J. Lang‘s high level of play at guard. Davante Adams drops more passes, failing to ascend to the level the organization is anticipating. The secondary fails to stay healthy, forcing Dom Capers to mix and match like last season.
Tipping point: Can Ty Montgomery evolve into an 800/800 guy, forcing defenses to declare themselves pre-snap?
Ceiling: 12-4. Peruse this Vikings roster up and down, and you’ll find a hornet’s nest of talent. In this scenario, the front seven stays upright and intact, making it one of the best in the game — certainly 12-4 worthy. Sam Bradford completes 71 percent of his passes again, but this time with a few chunk plays mixed in.
Floor: 6-10. Free-agent additions Riley Reiff (LT) and Mike Remmers (RT) fail to bolster what was a team weakness in 2016. The Vikings get nothing from 2016 first-rounder Laquon Treadwell again. Terence Newman reveals he is 600 years old, and neither Trae Waynes nor Mackensie Alexander steps up to effectively man the side opposite Xavier Rhodes (SEE: Patrick Peterson in Arizona for a similar situation). Bradford dinks and dunks ’til you drop.
Tipping point: Dalvin Cook rushes for, say, 1,250 yards and takes home the OROY award — plus-2 wins if that happens.
- NFL.com Analyst