Division Winner: Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers were on their way to their sixth Super Bowl in team history until one costly mistake ruined their plans. Tight end Brandon Bostick failed to recover the onside kick that was supposed to seal the Seahawks fate in the 2014 NFC Championship game. The Packers must put that devastating loss to the Seahawks behind them and get ready for the upcoming season.
The Packers did not make too many moves during the free agency period back in March. Their core players remain intact which is a good thing for quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Expect Rodgers to have another stellar season leading the Packers offense. My prediction for the Packers is that they will win the NFC North for the fourth consecutive season and contend for a Super Bowl title once again.
Last season the Detroit Lions avoided another late season collapse and made the playoffs for the first time since 2011. However, one of their core players on defense decided to hit the free agency market. Former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to six-year, $114 million dollar contract with the Miami Dolphins. To replace the void left by Suh, the Lions traded for defensive tackle Haloti Nada of the Baltimore Ravens. I believe Nada can fill the shoes left by Suh on the Lions defense, however; the Lions biggest flaw last season was that they did not show up to play in big games.
They must reverse that trend this season if they want to dethrone the Packers in the NFC North. My prediction for the Lions is that they will contend for at least a wild card spot in the playoffs. To even have a chance to fight for the NFC North title, the Lions must go at least 7-2 in their first eight games of the season. They have the daunting task of facing the Chargers, Vikings, Broncos, Seahawks, and Cardinals in their first five games of the season.
Last season I predicted that the Chicago Bears would have a record of 12-4 and become a Super Bowl contender in the NFC. They would prove me wrong by having one of the worst records in the National Football League. Quarterback Jay Cutler led the league in interceptions last season with 18 interceptions. Cutler could not find any groove with the Bears offense last season. He has the pieces around him to become a top 10 quarterback in the league.
Going into 2015, Cutler must show new head coach John Fox that he is the leader of this team. If not, he could find himself in the unemployment line at the end of the season. My 2015 prediction for the Bears is that they can make a push into the playoffs, however; it will solely be on the arm of Jay Cutler and the Bears offense. The one bright spot that the Bears have heading into 2015 is that John Fox has a proven track record of turning mediocre teams, into Super Bowl contenders.
The Minnesota Vikings will have their primary weapon returning to their lineup in running back Adrian Peterson. With Peterson in the lineup, the Vikings will win a lot of those close games that they lost last season. Young quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will have another weapon at his disposal in wide receiver Mike Wallace, who was acquired in a trade from the Miami Dolphins.
Wallace will be partnered up with talented wideout Cordarrelle Paterson. They could become a pretty good tandem if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater can make the necessary throws in crucial moments. My prediction for the Vikings is that they will not make the playoffs this season, however; they will be a hard match up for any of their opponents. I think it will be another year until we see this team live up to its full potential.
Photo Credits By forbes.com