CHZCON Threat Assessment: NFC North

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The enemies of Lombardi and Lambeau are gathering in the dark. 

Training camp is open. And I didn’t win the Mega Millions, which means I’m back for our first CHZCON threat assessment instead of buying an island and replacing all the water with KFC gravy.

With no games this week, our first report will focus on just the 3 teams in the division. Next week, we’ll look at a few of the bigger threats in the conference, including the first opponent preview. Let’s begin.

 

Chicago Bears – CHZCON Level 5Chicago Bears NFC North CHZCON

The Bears are always bad. They have been since the our Lord and savior, Curly Lambeau, crafted the first football from the clay of the Earth. But this offseason, it appears they’re preparing to be “race for the 1st pick” bad. 

I’m a Justin Fields apologist, which is why it pains me to say that, but look at the evidence and it’s true. 

They completed their triennial bloodless coup of sacking the current regime in power before installing a new, most likely equally incompetent, one with the belief that “this time it’ll be different”. Luke Getsy has joined the staff, but give it 8 weeks of Fields running for his life, hurling prayers down the field before that city turns on him.

Why will Fields be running for his life, you ask? Because the Bears decided that Lucas Patrick was the only upgrade truly needed on an offensive line that nearly got the freshman QB decapitated more than once. As for the other weapons around him, they’re taking the Moneyball approach and replacing all of Allen Robinson’s production last year with 3 or 4 low-tier replacements.

I liked Equanimeous St. Brown as much as the next Packer fan, but he doesn’t get on base.

They still have some dogs defensively, but they aren’t a unit to be truly terrified of. And trading Khalil Mack back to AFC West is as big a white flag as you could get to say you aren’t expecting much out of this season

Detroit Lions – CHZCON Level 4

I work in television research, dealing with ratings all day long. (editor’s note: please watch more primetime broadcast programming!) Once you start learning how the sausage is made with any sort of measurement, especially in the media world, there’s one face you quickly learn: Numbers always lie. Give me a program and I can make it number one…in one demographic or another. Still, you have that title “number one” to sell the buyer.

Enter the Detroit Lions. Everyone has spent the offseason singing the praises of the front office, making every right move and dangling the “number one” moniker of the offseason out into the blogs and podcasts. They’re the sexy pick to be the NFC North darkhorse and topple Rodgers and the Packers off their throne.

But it’s all a show. The data is twisted.

Yes, some of those moves were great. Aidan Hutchinson looks like a sure-fire Pro Bowler, if not more. Jameson Williams could prove to be a steal of the draft. Young guys like Amon-Ra St. Brown, TJ Hockenson and Penei Sewell could be the foundation of a solid offense. That’s a lot of sizzle around that steak.

Two words: Jared Goff. He and his pool noodle arm are still around, which is more than you can say about their defense. Can you name a single defensive starter from last year? Maybe Jeff Okudah and only because he was almost historically bad. That’s why those other moves, while sexy, don’t really add up to much for this team.

They might be offseason “number one”, but 100% growth isn’t as flashy when you started at zero. However, some of those pieces could be dangerous enough by themselves to mess around and accidentally be good, so we’re going to keep an eye on this.

Minnesota Vikings – CHZCON Level 5

This report might feel like we’re just ragging on everyone in the NFC North, but that’s not what it’s about. I honestly do think Justin Fields could do something in Chicago and the Lions have a real chance to be the second-best team in the division. Those teams have some kind of redeeming quality.

Now let’s talk about the Vikings.

Their most positive move over the offseason was firing Mike Zimmer, not because it made the team any better but because it released Zimmer from the personal hell the team had created for him. His team was in an open revolution against him all season, surprising if nothing for the fact that it was led by this guy.

Matthew Cousins…Kirk Stafford…KIRK COUSINS! Sorry. He really is the alternate reality version of Stafford if by year 4 of wallowing in Detroit, Matt decided to go full Maximum Overdrive on the front office. Seriously, if this guy is the Jean Valjean of the insurrection against you, something went extremely wrong.

They still have two of the more dangerous offensive weapons in the North in Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson, both of whom can get hot without much help from Mr. January 6th. But as bad the rest of the Bears team is that surrounds Fields, the Vikings say hold my beer. Nothing illustrates that point more than the metaphorical banner they raised after signing Za’Darius Smith, a guy who played registered one tackle last year while dealing with a back injury.

It will most likely be their biggest win of the calendar year. I’d ask you to pity them, but they’re worthy of nothing of the sort. All the best, but I hope they lose every game this season.

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