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  • Writer's pictureMason Dalley

2023 NFL Season Preview: NFC NORTH

Team Totals, Player Props and other Season Long Picks

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Chicago Bears

O/U: 7.5

Super Bowl: +6000

NFC Champion: +3000

NFC North Winner: +450

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2022 Record: 3-14(5-11-1)

2022 Offense: 23rd(DVOA 25th)

2022 Defense: 32nd(DVOA 32nd)

2022 Special Teams: 25th(DVOA 16th)


Free Agency


Additions: LB Tremaine Edmunds, LB TJ Edwards, TE Robert Tonyan, WR DJ Moore, RB D'Onta Foreman, QB Phillip Walker, IDL Andrew Billings, RB Travis Homer, EDGE Rasheem Green, LB Dylan Cole, IDL DeMarcus Walker, RG Nate Davis


Re-signings: LS Patrick Scales, Nathan Peterman, WR Dante Pettis, FB Khari Blasingame, IDL Andrew Brown, CB Josh Blackwell, LG Dieter Eiselen


Departures: Edge Al-Quadin Muhammad, S Deandre Houston-Carson, RB David Montgomery, RT Riley Reiff, IDL Armon Watts



Draft

Round 1: Darnell Wright(10), Tennessee T

Round 2: Gervon Dexter Sr. (53), Florida IDL, Tyrique Stevenson(56) Miami CB

Round 3: Zach Pickens(64), South Carolina IDL

Round 4: Roschon Johnson(115), Texas RB, Tyler Scott(133) Cincinnati WR

Round 5: Noah Sewell(148) Oregon LB, Terell Smith(165), Minnesota CB

Round 7: Travis Bell(218) Kennesaw State IDL, Kendall Williamson(258), Stanford S



Undrafted Free Agents

QB Tyson Bagnet, Shepherd

RB Robert Burns, UConn

WR Aron Cruickshank, Rutgers

WR Thyrick Pitts, Deleware

OT Bobby Haskins, USC

OT Gabe Houy, Pitt

G Lorenz Metz, Cincinnati

EDGE Jalen Harris, Arizona

LB Micah Baskerville, LSU

S Macon Clark, Tulane

K Andre Szymyt, Tulane

G Josh Lugg, Notre Dame

EDGE D'Anthony Jones

S Bralen Trahan



2023 Preview


The Chicago Bears can't get worse than they were last year. That's very positive news for Bears fans. The reason why is because of smart decisions being made by Ryan Poles. Poles traded down to get a freaky athlete at guard in Darnell Wright. The line will be better and that will allow Khalil Herbert and Roschon Johnson to be explosive runners. The addition of DJ Moore will help the pass game out tremendously. The whole thing on offense will be dependent on if Justin Fields can progress as a passer. Fields is obviously an electric runner and can provide a dynamic option that most teams just don't have. The Read Option game will be deadly. The Run Pass Option(RPO) game will be deadly. The Bears need to set up Fields to succeed in the pocket. I do not ascribe to the statues and succeeding from the pocket is the only way to win in the NFL. It's just incorrect. However, you do need to be able to make on-time, in rhythm throws that aren't just deep crossers. Fields was amazing on crossing routes, having a passer rating of 138.2 on those types of concepts in 2022. He really just needs to improve his throws elsewhere on the field, and the Bears offense will be incredibly dynamic.


The good news for Bears fans is that the defense can't be worse than it was last year!! The bad news is that I don't think they'll be better than bottom quarter of the league on defense. The additions of Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards will improve the defense from 32nd to 26th as long as they're on the field. Andrew Billings will help what was a very bad run defense. But that's about it when it comes to defensive positives. I liked their approach in the draft by targeting high value positions after they took car of low value positions like off-ball linebacker. I expect Gervon Dexter and Zach Pickens to be contributors immediately, while corners Tyrique Stevenson and Terrell Smith will take their lumps in year 1 but I think will flash their NFL starter potential. Overall the defense will still be bad, but good enough so that the offense can win some games.


OVER OR UNDER

For a team that won 3 games last year, 7.5 is lofty. I'm taking under only because winning twice as many games with a QB who is in de facto year 2, and a defense that was quite literally he worst in the all of the NFL, would be a massive accomplishment in and of itself


Player Prop

Justin Fields OVER 2,850.5 Passing Yards is a must just for the Bears' sake.





Green Bay Packers

O/U: 7.5

Super Bowl: +4000

NFC Champion: +2000

NFC North Winner: +350

AP/Morry Gash


2022 Record: 8-9(8-9 ATS)

2022 Offense: 14th(DVOA 11th)

2022 Defense: 17th(DVOA 20th)

2022 Special Teams: 23rd(DVOA 17th)



Free Agency


Additions: S Jonathan Owens, S Matt Orzech, TE Tarvarius Moore


Re-signed: RB Aaron Jones, CB Corey Ballantine, S Dallin Leavitt, LB Eric WIlson, C Jake Hanson ,QB Jordan Love, LB Justin Hollins, CB Keisean Nixon, S Rudy Ford, TE Tyler Davis, LT Yosuah Nijman


Departures: S Adrian Amos, TE Marcedes Lewis, K Mason Crosby, TE Robert Tonyan, LB Krys Barnes, QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Allen Lazard, WR Randall Cobb, S Vernon Scott, IDL Jarran Reed, IDL Dean Lowry



Draft

Round 1: Lukas Van Ness(13), Iowa EDGE

Round 2: Luke Musgrave(42), Oregon State TE, Jayden Reed(50), Michigan State WR

Round 3: Tucker Kraft(78), SD State TE

Round 4: Colby Wooden(116), Auburn EDGE

Round 5: Sean Clifford(149), Penn State WB, Dontayvion Hicks(159), Virginia Tech WR

Round 6: Karl Brooks(179), Bowling Green IDL, Anders Carlson(207), Auburn K

Round 7: Carrington Valentine(232), Kentucky CB, Lew Nichols III(235), Central Michigan RB, Anthony Johnson(242) Iowa State S, Grant Dubose(256) Charlotte WR



Undrafted Free Agents

LB Keshawn Banks, San Diego State

LB Brenton Cox Jr, Florida

OG Chuc Filiaga, Minnesota

WR Malik Heath, Ole Miss

IDL Jason Lewan, Illinois State

TE Carmen McDonald, Florida State

S Christian Morgan, Baylor

FB Henry Pearson, Appalachian State

LB Jimmy Phillips Jr, SMU

S Benny Sapp III, Northern Iowa

OT Kadeem Telfort, UAB

WR Duece Watts, Tulane



2023 Preview


For the first time in a long time, the NFC North does not run through Green Bay. They are in a full rebuild. No bones about it. They just are in a full rebuild. The offensive line should be fine. The running backs are really good, and hard to tackle in multiple ways between Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. The Tight Ends are young, but Luke Musgrave was the entire Beavers offense when he played in 2022 and is a freak athletically. Tucker Kraft is more of an extra offensive lineman with hands, but both will be adjusting to the NFL. The wideouts are young and fast since the old men have left for New York. Christian Watson is a baller and I expect Romeo Doubs to be a very solid possession receiver. The most important aspect of this is finally figuring out what Jordan Love is. Love has barely played, you can't put stock in pre-season, but I believe that Love can be at least competent in a Shanahan system. His potential to elevate the team remains to be seen, but I do think the offense will be fine. At bare minimum they'll be an efficient running team and that should make life easier for Love.


The Defense has all the pieces in place to be a good defense. Schematically they are infuriating to watch. They played a ton of Quarter/Quarter/Half(Cover 6) and Quarters in comparison to the rest of the NFL, accounting for 29.7% of their total defensive snaps. They opted to play on the back foot and have a hole in the middle for teams to run through. It's baffling and I'm hopeful they play more to their strength and more Cover-3. There's no point in having tremendous talents in Quay Walker and Devondre Campbell if you have them dropping into coverage 30% of the time. It's the assumption that "Oh my guys can just be Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw" when those two are linebacking unicorns. The Packers Defense is small overall, which should be somewhat remedied by first round pick Lukas Van Ness. In all honesty, they're a team that should play a more old school 4-3-3 instead of a 4-2-5 to really maximize their athleticism on defense. They have more of a 3-4 which might as well be a 5-2 with how Rashan Gary and Preston Smith are EDGE players that get called linebackers because EDGE isn't considered a position yet even though they set the edge in the run and rush the passer, not drop into coverage. All of that to say this; their defense swung way too hard into beating teams like the Chiefs when their stiffest competition in the NFC are teams like the Eagles and 49ers who want nothing more than to run the ball for 300 yards a game if they can. Even with those bad matchups they really should be better than 17th in scoring and 20th in DVOA.



OVER OR UNDER

This team has too many questions for 7.5. The NFC is terrible on the whole so I can see them going 8-9, but I really think there's just too much brand new on both sides of the ball to be better than 8-9. Under


Player Prop

Aaron Jones OVER 850.5 Book it.





Detroit Lions

O/U: 9.5

Super Bowl: +2100

NFC Champion: +800

NFC North Winner: +145

Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images


2022 Record: 9-8(12-5 ATS)

2022 Offense: 5th(DVOA 5th)

2022 Defense: 29th(DVOA 28th)

2022 Special Teams: 27th(DVOA 27th)



Free Agency


Additions: CB Emmanuel Mosely, RB David Montgomery, RG Graham Glasgow, IDL Christian Covington, LS Jack McQuaide, S Chauncey Gardner Johnson, Jr, WR Marvin Jones, CB Cameron Sutton, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin


Re-signings: LB Alex Anzalone, LB Anthony Pittman, IDL Benito Jones, TE Brock Wright, EDGE Charles Harris, RB Craig Reynolds, RG Halapoulivaati Vaitia, IDL Isaiah Buggs, IDL John Cominsky, LT Matt Nelson, K Michael Badgley, QB Nate Sudfeld, LT Obinna Eze, EDGE Romeo Okwara, C Ross Pierschbacher, CB Saivion Smith, LS Scott Daly, TE Shane Zylstra, S Will Harris


Losses: S Bobby Price, S CJ Moore, LT Dan Skipper, RN Justin Jackson, IDL Michael Brockers, WR Quintez Cephus, LG Tommy Kraemer, IDL Austin Bryant, LB Josh Woods, S DeShon Elliot, RB D'Andre Swift, CB Jeff Okudah, CB Mike Hughes, CB Amani Oruwariye, WR DJ Chark, LB Chris Board, RB Jamaal Williams, C Evan Brown


Draft

Round 1: Jahmyr Gibbs(12), Alabama RB, Jack Campbell(18), Iowa LB

Round 2: Sam LaPorta(34), Iowa TE, Brian Branch(45), Alabama Safety

Round 3: Hendon Hooker(68), Tennessee QB, Brodric Martin(96) IDL Western Kentucky

Round 5: Colby Sorsdal(152), William & Mary OT

Round 6: Antoine Green(219), North Carolina WR


Undrafgted Free Agents

LB Isaac Darkangelo, Illinois

IDL Cory Durden, North Carolina State

OL Connor Galvin, Baylor

CB Steven Gilmore, Marshall

RB Mohamed Ibrahim, Minnesota

S Brandon Joseph, Notre Dame

QB Adrian Martinez, Kansas State

IDL Zach Morton, Akron

LB Trevor Nowaske, Saginaw Valley State

IDL Chris Smith, Notre Dame

OL Ryan Swoboda, Central Florida

CB Starling Thomas V, Alabama-Birmingham

WR Keytaon Thompson, Virginia



2023 Preview


Somebody has to win this division and all trends are pointing towards the Detroit Lions. There's a ton to love about the motor city kitties this season, but I am still a little hesitant regarding them running away with the division. The hesitation has very little do with the offensive side of the ball. Detroit was 6th in a stat called Expected Points Added(EPA) per Play in the whole NFL, with a 0.073 EPA/Play over 18 weeks. For context, Kansas City lead the NFL in EPA per play with a 0 .179 EPA/Play. As you can imagine, the most EPA per play you can have on one play is 6, and this stat measures efficiency on the offensive side of the ball by seeing how many successful plays you run and how many 5, 6, and 7 yard gains contribute to gaining 6 points. The reason I like this stat is that its a measure of consistency. Detroit should end up as one of the best offenses in the NFL again, as they are returning every key player and coach. Dan Campbell and Ben Johnson draw up a phenomenal offense that plays to Jared Goff's strengths. Goff is an exceptional QB in a run heavy system since he is amazing at hitting his targets off of play action passes. Goff lead the NFL in passer rating off of play fakes with a 124.6 and was 3rd in EPA/play with a 0.269. This really is great since he's solid with his stable statistics like clean pocket passer rating(113.6) and avoiding turnovers, only 7 interceptions thrown and 7 fumbles lost over 17 games.


I expect Goff to continue to play well in 2023 because his environment is only getting better. Frank Ragnow, Penei Sewell, and Taylor Decker are Pro-Bowl at worst caliber offensive lineman, and to have Center and both tackle spots that secure is phenomenal. Graham Glasgow and Jonah Jackson are perfectly serviceable guards as well. They have no weak link on the offensive line, and that means you end up with a great ground game. David Montgomery is an upgrade over Deandre Swift and Jamal Williams when it comes to the total package of a running back, and while I hate taking running backs early conceptually, I understand why the Lions took Jahmyr Gibbs as early as they did. They are building a football team from the inside out and modern running games need two dynamic running backs that don't give the play away. For a team that thrives off of play action and one that still forces a base Nickel defense by having Marvin Jones Jr., Josh Reynolds, Jameson Williams after week 6, and the Sun God himself Amon-Ra St.Brown, who is Wes Welker come again, being able to maul in the run game with dynamic backs and with 3 out wide is massive. I also just trust Iowa Tight Ends and Sam LaPorta is no different in that regard, so expect him to produce in this Campbell-Johnson offense. The Offense is just going to go.


The Defense is still a work in progress. They have addressed the defense in the off-season in a huge way. They went and got Cam Sutton and CJ Gardner-Johnson to address the secondary. 1st round off-ball linebacker Jack Campbell will help the run defense in a major way, Brian Branch will help as a big Nickel and a box safety, and Aidan Hutchinson should be taking another step in year 2. All of this should help the Lions have a potentially below average defense instead of a bottom 5 defense. If they can just be an 18th-22nd ranked defense instead of bottom 5, they'll be threatening for the division.


OVER OR UNDER

I think they clear 9.5, and see a ceiling of 12-5, but realistically i think they finish at 11-6 and take another step towards sustainable success. There's another team in this division that's improved greatly and no one has really talked about it.


Player Prop

Amon-Ra St. Brown at 95.5 at -110 feels like stealing. He's a big slot that runs the Welker route tree to perfection.




Minnesota Vikings

O/U: 8.5

Super Bowl: +3500

NFC Champion: +1200

NFC North Winner: +260

Rivals

2022 Record: 13-4(7-9-1 ATS)

2022 Offense: 7th(DVOA 20th)

2022 Defense: 28th(DVOA 27th)

2022 Special Teams: 20th(DVOA 30th)



Free Agency


Additions: IDL Marcus Davenport, TE Josh Oliver, WR Brandon Powell, CB Joejuan Wiliams, IDL Dean Lowry, LB Troy Reeder, CB Byron Murphy


Re-signings: RB Alexander Mattison, LS Andrew Depaola, LG Austin Schlottmann, TE Ben Ellefson, LT Blake Brandel, FB CJ Ham, LG Chris Reed, C Garrett Bradbury, K Greg Joseph, IDL Jonathan Bullard, LB Jordan Hicks, EDGE Kenny Willekes, IDL Khyris Tonga, QB Nick Mullens, RT Olisaemeka Udoh, IDL Ross Blacklock.


Departures: CB Chandon Sullivan, CB Patrick Peterson, CB Duke Shelley, WR Adam Thielen, CB Cameron Dantzler, LB Eric Kendricks, CB Kris Boyd, IDL Dalvin Tomlinson, EDGE Za'Darius Smith, C Greng Mancz, TE Irv Smith Jr., WR Olabisi Johnson, WR Thomas Henningan


Draft

Round 1: Jordan Addison(23), USC WR

Round 3: Mehki Blackmon(102), USC CB

Round 4: Jay Ward(134), LSU CB, Jaquelin Roy(141) LSU DL

Round 5: Jaren Hall(164), BYU QB

Round 7: Dewayne McBride(222), UAB RB


Undrafted Free Agency

OL Alan Ali, TCU

DT Calvin Avery, IDL

LB Abraham Beauplan, Marshall

EDGE Andre Carter II, Army

OL Jacky Chen, Pace

CB CJ Coldon, Oklahoma

LB Wilson Huber, Cincinnati

WR Cephus Johnson, Southeastern Louisiana

WR Malik Knowles, Kansas State

LB Ivan Pace Jr., Cincinnati

K Jack Podlesny, Georgia

TE Ben Sims, Baylor

WR Thayer Thomas, NC State

CB Najee Thompson, Georgia Southern

CB Jaylin Williams, Indiana



2023 Preview


While the Vikings ran away from the rest of the NFC North in 2022, it was sort of by accident. They were a Paper Tiger. Very notably, the Vikings were exceptional in close games, but had a very difficult time against the very few quality teams that inhabit the modern NFC. Their losses came in defeats to the Eagles, Cowboys, Lions, and Packers by a combined score of 50-139. That's how you end up with a point differential of -3 despite a 13-4 record. So in this bizarre world, would you believe me if I told you the 13-4 team in 2022 could go 11-6 and be a substantially better team?


The offense I'm so in on and have no worry whatsoever. Kirk Cousins is a regular season god and unless he completely regresses he will be inhabiting around the 10th best QB in the NFL spot and definitely somebody who helps you win more than he helps you lose. The offensive line is very, very good, anchored by stud tackles Christian Darrisaw and Tyler O'Neill. The interior is very solid as well with Garret Bradbury and Ezra Cleveland being studs at Center and Left Guard. Ed Ingram is a weak link at Right Guard, but with how he's a good run blocker but a poor pass blocker, he can survive with help from Bradbury.


The stars of the show are the pass catchers. Head Coach Kevin O'Connell brought with him a McVay flavored brand of the Shanahan offense were he turned Justin Jefferson into a super-charged Cooper Kupp. Jefferson is phenomenal. He has all of the technician aspects that great receivers need to have for long term success, with that brand of LSU Receiver freak-showability that's become the school's calling card. That's not going to slow down. While the departure of Thielen hurts, Jordan Addison comes in as a Biletnikoff winner that is sure to step right in and produce. KJ Osborn is also a very quiet solid #3 WR. This is complimented by TJ Hockensen being one the best pass-catching tight ends and a run game that is buyoed by the pass game. There is a theory that the run sets up the pass, which was true until about 5 or so years ago. I'd say the pass sets up the run these days by forcing multiple defensive backs on the field, leaving a lighter box to handle. With the base defense becoming one with 5 defensive backs on the field, the run is often open. So what this really means is that unless you have an amazing interior defensive lineman that can disrupt plays before they start, such as Chris Jones and Aaron Donald, linebackers that can play the pass and run at an absurd level, such as the Wilson+Pratt and Warner+Greenlaw combos, or have a bunch of freaky athletes that are listed at safety but are really hybrids between linebacker/safety/corner that Bill Belichick is obsessed with, such as Kyle Dugger, Jabril Peppers, and Marte Mapu, you're conceding in the run game. I say all of that to say that Alexander Mattison will be more productive than Cook was in recent seasons. Cook is a soft issue injury king so if Alexander Mattison can be healthy and rush for 4 YPC, he'll be great. The box will be light because if it's not you're going to be torched by Kirko Chainz and the boys.



The defense was abysmal in 2022 and frankly, it came down to two major flaws. Coaching and personnel. Ed Donatell was a bad defensive coach. Not because he has bad ideas as a play caller, he actually understands the modern NFL and called Quarter/Quarter/Half and cover 2 shells to limit damage over the top in hopes to create frustration in short field situations. The issues came up when he was inflexible with his personnel, which frankly was not good to begin with. The Vikings had an old defense, and one that was never going to keep up with modern offenses. Patrick Peterson, Eric Kendricks, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Za'Darius Smith were all past their prime and I don't think they'll be missing them very much. I think of any of them Tomlinson will be missed because he is a gap filler in the run game.


Donatell was having Za'Darius Smith covering slot receivers because that's what the formation says he has to do in a Quarter/Quarter/Half shell. The pass rushing edge in his 30's dropping into a zone to cover slot receivers. There has never been such a mismatch between inflexible play calling with inflexible personnel.


There was a massive improvement in coaching, as the Vikings have brought in Brian Flores. If Flores wasn't hosed by the buffoonery that is the Miami Dolphins organization, he'd be a winning coach in the NFL and one of Belichick's only successful understudies. What I loved about Brian Flores when he was the defensive play caller in New England was how aggressive he was and how intimately he understood leveraging his personnel to win matchups. Obviously being able to leverage Dont'a Hightower, The McCourty Twins, and Stephon Gilmore is a luxury, but he did the same in Miami with Xavien Howard, Alex van Ginkel, and Jevon Holland. While the Vikings lack defensive talent, they have infused the team with players who should help them creep towards average. Marcus Davenport and Byron Murphy are veterans who will be productive right away. Mehki Blackmon is a projected day 1 starter who will take his lumps as a rookie, but will definitely be a burst of much needed athleticism. Harrsion Smith and Danielle Hunter are really good players and Brian Asamoah II is looking to build on a successful 2022. There's also a player that is somehow avoiding radars at a national level. Flores has a heat seeking missile in UDFA Ivan Pace Jr. An exceptional run stuffer, an exceptional blitzer, and just an exceptional off-ball linebacker. How he went undrafted is beyond me, but man, Flores has a his green dot and it's a UDFA Rookie and he's perfect for an aggressive DC.


OVER OR UNDER

Over. 8.5 is preposterously low for a team that got better after a 13-4 season. Obviously they were Paper Tigers, but they should be going 4-2 in the division and the NFC is a very weak conference overall.


Player Prop

Alexander Mattison OVER 825.5 rushing yards at +105 is juicy. He's a very good RB and is going to be featured for the first time in an offense that will force light boxes.












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