2016 NFL Preview

How the league will shape up this season through the eyes of the BCSR writers.

By: Bill Tewes, Mark Prott, Jim Boyce

August has finally arrived and with it comes everyone’s favorite thing, football season. With the preseason officially underway, we take a look at how we think each division will look this season. Extra emphasis on the NFC North of course, as that is where our beloved Packers are.

Jim

NFC NORTH

  1. Green Bay Packers-My decision to pick Green Bay over Minnesota really comes down to one big thing. Aaron Rodgers over Teddy Bridgewater. With a hopefully healthy Nelson, Lacy playing for a new contract, and an offense focused on erasing memories of 2015, I expect the Packers offense to return to top 10 status. The defense could take a step into the top 10 as well if some young players develop.
  2. Minnesota Vikings- The Vikings have assembled a pretty talented roster, especially on defense. Mike Zimmer has done a really nice job since taking over in the Twin Cities. Adrian Peterson will do what he always does, but can Bridgewater take that next step and elevate the Vikings offense? Nonetheless I fully expect two teams from the North to make the playoffs this season.
  3. Chicago Bears-John Fox is a good coach, and with some additions to the defense the Bears should see an improvement over last seasons 6-10 record. There are enough questions about the Bears that they likely won’t make the playoffs this year though. Kevin White could be the X-factor this season as a former top 10 pick coming off an injury.
  4. Detroit Lions-Unless you just came out of a coma you know Calvin Johnson is gone. His replacements are Marvin Jones and whatever Anquan Boldin offers at this point of his career, along with incumbent Golden Tate. Detroit still doesn’t appear to have a running game, and the defense isn’t as good as it was when they went to the playoffs in 2014

Mark

NFC NORTH

  1. Green Bay- I have not been more confident in an upcoming Packers team since well maybe the 2011 season after the last Lombardi trophy came home. With the offense regaining health and many players on offense on a mission to prove naysayers wrong after sub-par seasons, namely Rodgers and Lacy, I think the offense will roar back with a vengeance and could approach record setting numbers in 2016. I see the defense rising from middle of the pack to a top 10 unit, lead by their ball hawking secondary and improved linebacker play. All in all could be one of the more balanced teams we have seen in the McCarthy tenure.
  2. Minnesota- I know they won the division last year but this just does not strike me as an elite football team. I think the Vikings take a slight step back this year and finish with 9 or 10 wins. The defense has talent to keep the Vikings competitive in most games and Adrian Peterson does not seem to age, but with a weak left tackle in Matt Kalil and average QB Teddy Bridgewater still under center, I don’t see the offense taking the step it needs to compete with the top teams in the NFC. The Viking should be in wild card contention
  3. Chicago- I see the Bears taking a jump this year and finishing around .500. Count me as impressed by the way John Fox leads a team and builds with defense first. However, Jay Cutler is still the quarterback and although he has seemed to improve slightly as he’s aged, he still can’t be trusted to lead this team into the playoffs. I also think the offense will take a step back without the services of Matt Forte.
  4. Detroit-I see the Lions in the basement of the North and likely headed for a top 5 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. The loss of Megatron will not only hurt on the field but also overall team morale. He was the best player on a bad to mediocre 2015 team and Matt Stafford seems to be on the decline every year. His lack of leadership is a big reason why I have no faith in this squad making any noise.

Bill

NFC North

  1. Green Bay- Green Bay’s defense is going to be the catalyst for a deep playoff run. With an improved secondary and a consistently strong defensive line, Green Bay will look to dominant opponents on the defensive side of the ball. My major concern is how well the Packers’ receivers will play this year. A lot of players have to earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers and I am somewhat concerned with the re-injury potential of Jordy Nelson as well as the underwhelming seasons that Randall Cobb and Davante Adams had. Hopefully with the addition of a true wide receivers coach, our receiving core will fire on all cylinders and project us to the best record in the NFC.
  2. Minnesota- The Vikings added big body receiver Laquon Treadwell to add stability to a receiving core that has shown flashes of potential, but no real consistency. Treadwell is putting plenty of time in at practice in hopes of building rapport with QB Teddy Bridgewater. The Vikings will hope that Treadwell makes an immediate impact (tough for a rookie) as they sorely need a deep threat to improve their passing game. Adrian Peterson will continue to show what an athletic freak he is and win more games for Minnesota than Bridgewater will. With the NFC South and East being mediocre at best, the Vikings will have a good opportunity to be in the playoff picture come December.
  3. Chicago- The Bears will take a step back this season with the loss of offensive coordinator Adam Gase. I truly believe that Gase was the reason that the Bears looked better on offense last year. While they have added some impressive defensive pieces (Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman) they lack the offensive fire power to put the team in the same discussion as Green Bay and Minnesota. I am somewhat excited to see what receiver Kevin White can do for this team, but he’s essentially in his rookie season and may not add immediate help. Chicago might improve their record (only because of how bad Detroit will be as well as strength of schedule), but where the big picture is concerned I think there are too many question marks to determine if this Bears team can take the big step into contending for the NFC North.
  4. Detroit- The Lions have no run game and that is a major concern for a team that just lost their Hall of Fame wide receiver in Calvin Johnson. I have no faith in Ameer Abdullah as a three down back. If the Lions are forced to play from behind, it will open the door for more playing time for Theo Riddick and Anquan Boldin, which is not what Lion fans want to see. They could desperately use a year away from winning football games to draft a potential star in Leonard Fournette to give them a potentially elite running back and bring balance to their offense.

NFC WEST

     Jim                               Mark                             Bill

  1. Seahawks              1. Cardinals             1.Cardinals
  2. Cardinals              2. Seahawks            2. Seahawks
  3.  Rams                     3. Rams                    3. Rams
  4. 49ers                      4. 49ers                    4. 49ers

NFC SOUTH

  1. Panthers                1. Panthers             1.Panthers
  2. Falcons                   2. Falcons              2. Saints
  3. Buccaneers            3. Buccaneers       3. Buccanears
  4. Saints                      4. Saints                4. Falcons

NFC EAST

  1. Cowboys                  1. Giants              1. Cowboys
  2. Giants                      2. Cowboys         2. Giants
  3. Redskins                 3. Redskins         3. Redskins
  4. Eagles                      4. Eagles              4. Eagles

AFC NORTH

  1. Bengals                  1. Steelers            1. Steelers
  2. Steelers                 2. Bengals            2. Bengals
  3. Ravens                   3. Ravens              3. Ravens
  4. Browns                  4. Browns             4. Browns

AFC WEST

  1. Chiefs                    1. Chiefs                1. Broncos
  2. Raiders                  2. Broncos            2. Chiefs
  3. Broncos                 3. Raiders             3. Raiders
  4. Chargers               4. Chargers          4. Chargers

AFC SOUTH

  1. Texans                  1. Texans                1. Texans
  2. Jaguars                 2. Jaguars               2. Colts
  3. Colts                     3. Colts                    3. Jaguars
  4. Titans                   4. Titans                 4. Titans

AFC EAST

  1. Patriots                 1. Patriots           1. Patriots
  2. Bills                       2. Jets                   2. Jets
  3. Jets                         3. Dolphins        3. Bills
  4. Dolphins              4. Bills                 4. Dolphins