Last season, the Minnesota Vikings. . .who, according to most of the Really Smart Football People™ were actually a bad team. . .won the NFC North by a comfortable four-game margin. The purple jumped out to a big lead in the division and weren’t seriously threatened. In 2023, the division should be a little more competitive, but there are a couple of sources that don’t think the division is going to be very good.
Pro Football Focus has ranked the divisions from strongest to weakest, and they’ve placed the NFC North as the sixth-best of the eight NFL divisions.
The Detroit Lions are the division favorites and might just win their first-ever NFC North crown in 2023. They will need to rely heavily on Amon-Ra St. Brown, who produced a 90.4 PFF receiving grade in 2022 to rank fourth among wide receivers, in the passing game, with 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams suspended for the first six games of the season. The Minnesota Vikings are, perhaps, being somewhat slept on after a disappointing end to the 2022 campaign, with Kirk Cousins producing a PFF grade of 77.0 or better in every season he has been with the Vikings and the offense boasting the NFL receiving yardage leader from a year ago in Justin Jefferson.
Justin Fields looked to break the NFL single-season rushing record by a quarterback before missing the final week of the 2022 season, but the Bears will be hoping a revamped receiving group, led by wide receiver D.J. Moore can help him take a step forward as a passer in 2023. For the Green Bay Packers, it’s Jordan Love’s time to shine at quarterback. Drafted in 2020, Love has seen just 91 regular season dropbacks in three seasons but gets the opportunity to prove himself as Aaron Rodgers’ replacement.
The only divisions that PFF ranked below the NFC North were the two South divisions, with the AFC South at #7 and the NFC South as the worst division in the league, which is what they were last year. Luckily for the Vikings, they match up with the NFC South in conference play this year. We’ll see if they get a boost from that.
CBS Sports sees things the same way, ranking the NFC North higher than the two South divisions and behind everyone else.
What about the Minnesota Vikings? They did win the division last season, but they weren’t active in free agency (Josh Oliver was their biggest signing). Releasing Adam Thielen hurt the offense and Dalvin Cook’s future is uncertain. Rookie Jordan Addison should help out the wide receiver group.
The NFC North is unpredictable with Rodgers out of the picture — what will happen here is a big question mark. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this division improve over the course of the year.
I’m not sure why they think that Josh Oliver was the team’s biggest free agent signing. He was their first one, but I would argue that there were a couple of other signings they made this offseason that were bigger.
The two sites have some differences at the top of their rankings. . .CBS says that the NFC East is the best division in the NFL while PFF gives the nod to the AFC North. . .but they’re in agreement on the bottom three. Do you think the NFC North is getting slightly overlooked going into the 2023 season?