1. Detroit Lions 11-6
That’s right, I predict The Detroit Lions will win their first division title since 1993, with an 11-6 record. It’s impossible not to feel encouraged with the trajectory that Dan Campbell and co. have this Lions team on, and they will enter 2023 with raised expectations. After going 9-8 in 2022, with an impressive 5-1 record in the division, Lions fans expect this team to become legitimate competitors in a weak NFC conference this season.
Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson returning for the 2023 season was huge for this team, as many expected him to take one of the several head coaching openings this offseason. The Jared Goff led offense was one of the best in the league last season, with the emergence of weapons such as Amon-Ra St. Brown and Jamaal Williams. While the defense certainly needs improvement, general manager Brad Holmes has the ammunition to add key pieces, with two first round picks and two second round picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. It is certainly not unreasonable to expect this team to improve by two or more wins next season.
2. Minnesota Vikings 10-7
The defending champions would finish second in the NFC North in my predictions, going 10-7. Despite being in a multitude of one score games in 2022, The Vikings finished the regular season 13-4. Most would expect to see some regression from a flukey team that was bounced in the wildcard round of the playoffs, and I have them winning three less games than they did last year.
The Vikings have several aging key pieces on their team such as running back Dalvin Cook, safety Harrison Smith, and cornerback Patrick Peterson. The defense was also extremely poor at defending the pass, although we are still holding out hope for 2022 rookies Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr. to break out next season. With that being said, The Vikings still have a strong core of players on the offensive side of the ball. Tackles Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neil are truly some of the best players at their respective positions, mid season addition TJ Hockenson was a game changer on offense, and what more can be said about 2022 receiving yardage leader Justin Jefferson. The ceiling for this Vikings team will always be capped when you have Kirk Cousins at the helm, although they should absolutely be in playoff contention in 2023.
3. Green Bay Packers 8-9
Perhaps the most interesting storyline going into the 2023 season is where will Aaron Rodgers end up going? Most signs point to his departure from Green Bay for next season, leaving former first round pick Jordan Love at the helm of The Packers’ offense. After a disappointing 9-8 2022 season, I expect some minor regression as Green Bay enters the Jordan Love era. While Love showed promise in his limited amount of snaps during the 2022 season, it is impossible to think he will immediately live up to the production of a future hall of famer like Aaron Rodgers.
Not all is dark and gloomy for the Packers though, as their 2022 season was greatly impacted by injuries to key players. Star left tackle David Bhaktiari, and elite defensive lineman Rashan Gary were held out of most of the 2022 season due to injury, and we expect them both to be back at the start of next season. Second year wide receiver Christian Watson looks to be a star in the making, though we expect Green Bay will add an impactful wide receiver to line up next to him in the 2023 NFL Draft. The Packers still have terrific pieces on both sides of the ball, but how much can we really expect from Jordan Love in his first season as a full time starter?
4. Chicago Bears 5-12
The Chicago Bears finished the 2022 season with a 3-14 record, the worst in the entire NFL. The Bears enter the offseason with more questions than answers. While players such as safety Jaquan Brisker and tackle Braxton Jones have shown great promise in their rookie season, Chicago has holes at essentially every other position on their team. Justin Fields has shown that he can be an elite runner at the quarterback position, though he has left a lot to be desired as a passer. The Bears would be foolish not to surround Fields with talent this offseason, particularly at the wide receiver position. Fortunately for Chicago, The Bears have the most cap space in the NFL, and can add several key free agents. The Bears also have the first overall pick in the draft, which they can look to trade for a massive haul of draft picks.