Heller: NFC North Answers to my Preseason Series “3 Burning Questions”

With the regular season over, here are the answers to my three burning questions from before the season.

Minnesota Vikings

Defense good enough? The defense that I thought was just that surprised me. They played exceptionally well. It also helped that the offense put up tons of points week after week.

Healthy Cook? Dalvin Cook was the lynchpin in this team’s success throughout the season. Although he missed a game or two with a minor back injury, he still finished the season in the top ten in rushing yards. 

More aerial attack? It took a few weeks longer than expected and the receivers calling out their quarterback and play-calling, but the passing game, once it got going, was one of the more effective ones in the league. While Adam Theilen missed multiple games due to injury, the team saw a reemergence of tight end Kyle Rudolph, who became Kirk Cousins’s primary red-zone target once again. 

Green Bay Packers 

Does Rodgers still have it? Aaron Rodgers, the future Hall of Famer, took a few weeks to get comfortable in head coach Matt LaFleur’s offense. But once he was, he returned to Rodgers of old, complete with late-game heroics. 

Who’s the leader now? The defense was led by “The Smith Brothers,” the dominant outside linebacker tandem of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, who alone or combined impacted just about every game.

Another elite Jones? Running back Aaron Jones finished 12th in the league in rushing, but he had an issue with fumbling this season. Jamaal Williams put together a couple solid games but missed extensive time due to various injuries.

Chicago Bears 

Mack attack back? The Bears’ dominant defense looked anything but that early on but got back to their form of a season ago in the second half of the year.

In Trubisky they trust? The Bears’ signal-caller had another up-and-down season. While he had a few great games, he had more okay and downright bad ones. But the team still has confidence in him, as they already announced that he is their starting quarterback heading into next season. 

David and Cohen associate? Third-round draft pick David Montgomery was impressive in his rookie campaign as he led the team in rushing.

Detroit Lions

11th season the charm? Matthew Stafford missed a large chunk of the season. The team was unable to rally around backups, Jeff Driskel and David Blough. Looking ahead to next season, if Stafford’s injury is going to continue to linger, they may want to keep a close eye on the free agent quarterback market.

What’s that guy’s name again? Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Danny Amendola had flashes of impactful plays but nothing consistent.

Is that a running game? Kerryon Johnson was poised to carry the bulk of the load for this team. Unfortunately for him and the Lions, he was placed on injured reserve in October.

Before the season, I gave the edge to Minnesota for taking the top spot (they did seal up a wild card spot) and hinted at the Lions vying for a wild card spot. As always, you can never count out a team that has Aaron Rodgers at the helm. Both NFC North representatives are still fighting in the playoffs.

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