Breaking Down the NFC North, 2022 Edition

Dantés

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As I do every year after the draft, I want to rank the various positions groups within the division to see where the Packers stack up.

Quarterback: The top two are pretty simple. The Packers have the two time reigning MVP, the Vikings have a good starting QB. But the last two are hard to stack-- you're weighing Goff's floor vs. Fields' ceiling. I went with Goff, but I would not argue either way. However, given how wretched Fields' supporting cast is, I don't think he will look better even if, in a vacuum, he is better.

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Lions
4. Bears

Running Back:
This is a really good position across the entire division. I like all four teams at this spot. But GB is #1 for me because both Jones and Dillon are very good, lead back quality players. Dalvin Cook might be better than either, but the Vikings' top 2 isn't on par. I gave the nod to the Bears because Montgomery is more established than Swift, but I don't think there's a big gap.

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Bears
4. Lions

Tight End:
If you look at the primary TE's across the board, it becomes clear who the top two teams are at this position. Hockenson is emerging as one of the premier players at tight end in the entire league, and he's a complete player. Quietly, Cole Kmet isn't that far behind him. On the bottom end, I gave the nod to GB over Minnesota because the Packers have decent role players at all three spots (Y, H, and F), though Minnesota could have a nice option in Irv Smith Jr. if he comes back healthy in 2022.

1. Lions
2. Bears
3. Packers
4. Vikings

Wide Receiver:
The Vikings easily deserve the top spot here with Jefferson being one of the league's elite young receivers in front of the still useful Adam Thielen and the emerging K.J. Osborn. The emergence of St. Brown in the slot for Detroit helps them a lot here, and they have built around him with Chark and now Jameson Williams. The Packers are #3 for two reasons, one lesser and one greater. The lesser: they have youth and potential on the roster, even if they don't have a ton of proven talent. The greater: the Bears have the worst receiving corps in football.

1. Vikings
2. Lions
3. Packers
4. Bears

Offensive Line:
It goes a little overlooked because the Lions are so bad, but they have a great offensive line. Left to right, Decker, Jackson, Ragnow, Vaitai, and Sewell are all proven quality. I love the Packers on the line too, but they are counting more on growth, whereas the Lions have guys who are a year or two ahead of their Packer counterparts. Minnesota has a huge range of outcomes on the line, depending on how well Darrisaw, Bradbury, and Ingram play. They could be above average or horrible. And the Bears have a small range of outcomes: horrible.

1. Lions
2. Packers
3. Vikings
4. Bears

Interior Defense Line:
Kenny Clark has needed help, and he got it. Jarran Reed is a useful veteran who will be better with fewer snaps, Dean Lowry is still capable as a rotational guy, and they're adding the draft's best interior rusher. The Vikings are respectable, able to field a good trio in Tomlinson, Phillips, and Watts. But the Lions and the Bears are both really weak here. Detroit has Brockers and then youngsters who aren't there yet, and the Bears have... no one.

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Lions
4. Bears

Edge Rusher:
Green Bay features a high quality starting duo of Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, and they will hope that backups like Garvin, Ramsey, and Enagbare can give them quality snaps as spell players. The Vikings are similar, though I would say with a step down in terms of certainty and ability seeing as how the healthy of Za'Darius Smith and Danielle Hunter is an open question. The Lions could be making a move up this list in a hurry if rookies Hutchinson and Paschal hit. The Bears have an aging Robert Quinn and... ?

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Lions
4. Bears

Linebacker:
If Campbell is even in the neighborhood of the player he was in 2021, then adding Quay Walker could give GB the best duo in the NFL. The Vikings also have a nice group in Kendricks, Hicks, and rookie Asamoah, but Kendricks is starting to fade. The Bears have a high quality player here in Roquan Smith, but very little else (they should trade him). The Lions are nursing along young players who are still in over their heads.

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Bears
4. Lions

Cornerback:
Given that players take their biggest leaps between years 1 and 2, I think there's a good chance the Green Bay's top 3 at cornerback will be the best in the NFL. There's a steep drop-off after that. The Vikings have Dantzler, who is good, and they added Booth, Evans, and Chandon Sullivan. The Bears have a quality player in Jaylon Johnson and they added that cute ballerina to the lineup. The Lions are a mess at this position, largely because Okudah has not materialized, though they may have something in Oruwariye if he continues to progress.

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Bears
4. Lions

Safety:
This was a tough call at the top because I still think Harrison Smith is the single best safety in the division, but overall I think Amos-Savage is a better tandem in 2022 than Smith and a rookie Lewis Cine. The Bears could be decent here as they added Brisker, their best draft pick of the weekend, to the position along with the decent but overrated Eddie Jackson. The Lions aren't quite as messy here as at corner or linebacker, but they still aren't very talented.

1. Packers
2. Vikings
3. Bears
4. Lions

Overall (Lower is better):
If you think about this division from a broader perspective, this rings true. The Vikings still have a lot of quality pieces, but they're the same quality pieces that couldn't overtake the Packers previously, so they're probably stuck in the same purgatory of being a winning team that cusps between missing the playoffs and losing early in the playoffs. There's an outside chance that Pettine makes them worse than that even. The Lions are on the come, but there are still too many spots (QB, LB, CB, S) where they're really bad for them to compete at this point. And the Bears are in competition with Atlanta for the worst roster in the league. Don't be shocked if they win two games and pick #1 overall next year.

1. Packers: 15
2. Vikings: 22
3. Lions: 29
4. Bears: 34
 

tynimiller

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Honestly, there isn't a single ranking I have enough talking points to argue a switch with. You hit the only one I hesitated on and that was Lions up to 2 in edge rushers....but that is ONLY true if Hutch and Paschal are hits...if they are honest to God they may be more 1B than even 2.
 

realitybytez

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i think these are pretty accurate ratings. the glaring in-your-face weakness of the packers is that they have the best qb and the worst contingent of potential receiving targets. i think if we had even one proven 1,000+ yard receiver on the roster, be it wr or te, we would be in a lot better shape offensively. in 2021, there were 26 wr/te that had at least 1,000 yards. that includes higgins and pittman, who the packers could have drafted had they not wasted the pick on virtually useless jordan love.
 

tynimiller

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To be fair Cobb and Watkins are 100% proven 1,000 capable guys. Watkins especially still produces per game at that level. Health is a factor you cannot ignore of course for him.
 

tynimiller

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i'm talking about a guy who is currently producing 1,000 yards per season. i'm not talking about ancient history.
It isn't ancient history...However I just trended Watkins figures to full seasons at his paces and he I retract and say he is more so a 750 or so yards guy if healthy. Don't care enough to see what Cobb is, but I'd suspect he is even higher.
 

realitybytez

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Don't care enough to see what Cobb is, but I'd suspect he is even higher.
well, let me help you out. cobb had exactly one season of 1000+ yards, and that was 2014 - 8 years ago. ancient history. and his average yards per season has been 651, and he hasn't even come close to that since 2019.

watkins and cobb are both well past their primes.
 

Magooch

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It isn't ancient history...However I just trended Watkins figures to full seasons at his paces and he I retract and say he is more so a 750 or so yards guy if healthy. Don't care enough to see what Cobb is, but I'd suspect he is even higher.
Probably being a bit generous. Cobb hasn't been a 1000yd receiver since 2014 (which I think probably *is* ancient history in NFL terms, lol). And he hasn't played a full season since 2015 (in which he was an 800yd receiver). And same's the case with Watkins, who hasn't topped 1000 yards since 2015 and hasn't played a full season except for his rookie year...

While it may be true that if you were to extrapolate their per-game averages out over a full season they'd be "1000yd receivers" I think that's a bit disingenuous (or at least some shaky logic IMO) given that these players simply do not play full seasons. Unless you are expecting both of them to play a full 16 games for the first time in 7+ years, I don't really think it's accurate to call them "1000yd receivers"....


(and FWIW Watkins' career average rec yards per game is 51.1, roughly 870 yards in a 17-game season assuming he is healthy for every game. Cobb's is 50.5 or ~860 yards in a 17 game season. Both of those seem like absolute best-case scenarios at this point.)
 

Magooch

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Probably being a bit generous. Cobb hasn't been a 1000yd receiver since 2014 (which I think probably *is* ancient history in NFL terms, lol). And he hasn't played a full season since 2015 (in which he was an 800yd receiver). And same's the case with Watkins, who hasn't topped 1000 yards since 2015 and hasn't played a full season except for his rookie year...

While it may be true that if you were to extrapolate their per-game averages out over a full season they'd be "1000yd receivers" I think that's a bit disingenuous (or at least some shaky logic IMO) given that these players simply do not play full seasons. Unless you are expecting both of them to play a full 16 games for the first time in 7+ years, I don't really think it's accurate to call them "1000yd receivers"....


(and FWIW Watkins' career average rec yards per game is 51.1, roughly 870 yards in a 17-game season assuming he is healthy for every game. Cobb's is 50.5 or ~860 yards in a 17 game season. Both of those seem like absolute best-case scenarios at this point.)
Just to expand on this since I was a bit bored at work...

Cobb's per-game averages extrapolated to a full 17-game season.
2011: 425 yards
2012: 1,081
2013: 1,227
2014: 1,367
2015: 881
2016: 797
2017: 740
2018: 724
2019: 938
2020: 750
2021: 532

And Watkins...
2014: 1,044 yards
2015: 1,369
2016: 915
2017: 672
2018: 882
2019: 818
2020: 716
2021: 515

In other words - the last time either one was a 1000-yard receiver was 2014/15, even if we assume a full and healthy season of 17 games each. (and I feel like the "1000 yard" mark is usually given with a 16-game season as your frame of reference, given that this just changed...You can knock off like 6% or something to get it closer to a 16-game total if that helps.)
 

tynimiller

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Probably being a bit generous. Cobb hasn't been a 1000yd receiver since 2014 (which I think probably *is* ancient history in NFL terms, lol). And he hasn't played a full season since 2015 (in which he was an 800yd receiver). And same's the case with Watkins, who hasn't topped 1000 yards since 2015 and hasn't played a full season except for his rookie year...

While it may be true that if you were to extrapolate their per-game averages out over a full season they'd be "1000yd receivers" I think that's a bit disingenuous (or at least some shaky logic IMO) given that these players simply do not play full seasons. Unless you are expecting both of them to play a full 16 games for the first time in 7+ years, I don't really think it's accurate to call them "1000yd receivers"....


(and FWIW Watkins' career average rec yards per game is 51.1, roughly 870 yards in a 17-game season assuming he is healthy for every game. Cobb's is 50.5 or ~860 yards in a 17 game season. Both of those seem like absolute best-case scenarios at this point.)

I fully admitted the health aspect cannot be ignored. Dismissing their production and/or dismissing their health would be very ignorant to do in each case.
 

realitybytez

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I fully admitted the health aspect cannot be ignored.
and yet, even with extrapolating their per game average to a full 17 game season, you won't acknowledge that neither receiver comes close to 1000 yards?

imho, the best that anyone can hope for is that those two receivers will account for 1000 yards total. we're all hoping that rodgers can spread it around to enough guys that can get 200 - 500 yards that we still have a respectable passing game. but that's going to require a lot of things to go right.
 

tynimiller

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and yet, even with extrapolating their per game average to a full 17 game season, you won't acknowledge that neither receiver comes close to 1000 yards?

imho, the best that anyone can hope for is that those two receivers will account for 1000 yards total. we're all hoping that rodgers can spread it around to enough guys that can get 200 - 500 yards that we still have a respectable passing game. but that's going to require a lot of things to go right.

I literally said I retracted my claim. LOL

I know that is rare on this board, but I one hundred percent have admitted when I've been wrong. I tested my claim against Watkins production per game and he isn't a 1,000 a year guy. Cobb is slightly higher I'd bet per game but again I said I didn't take it that far nor cared enough to.
 

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The problem with Cobb and Watkins isn't so much their production as it is that in some way or another they might be considered the best WRs on our team. Those numbers just won't cut it if that is the case. Now some will argue Lazard is better and there may be something legitimate there but he hasn't proven himself to be the guy either. Watson might very well be the "best" WR on the team but he will likely have some growing pains. I think those pains will be lessened simply by having Rodgers throwing him the ball.

As for Watkins I would say the wildcard for his production is Rodgers and the rest of the WR group. In KC Mahomes threw to Kelce then Hill then he though about the other guys. Hard to get yards if you aren't getting targets. The one year in LA he had a few other guys competing for catches as well. In Buffalo their passing game simply stunk all around.

I'm not saying he will light the world on fire BUT if he stays healthy I think he has a chance to get a lot of targets simply because of who he is competing with and because Rodgers is throwing him the ball and I think he can still do a lot with those targets. I can see a situation where he leads the Packers in receiving. Unfortunately I can just as easily see him getting 400 yards and 3 TDs
 
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i'm talking about a guy who is currently producing 1,000 yards per season. i'm not talking about ancient history.
I think you’ve underestimated what a good (not exceptional) WR can do with no clear cut WR1. Add to that the most accurate passer in NFL history still cresting a wave? 1,000
isn’t today what it was 25 years ago.
200-300 of Adams yards were because there was little to zero real WR competition. You could arguably say #17 was the only WR last season who qualified as a #1 or #2 type on Packers. That in itself is more rare across the league than it is normal.

50% Chance GB has at least 1 WR who breaks 1,000. 16WR in the league had over 1,000 yards last season. Adams ranked #11 in ypc of that grouping. Actually, he got beat out by a couple 22yr old green peas. Davante got the #2 most targets.

Justin Jefferson is the guy to watch he’s an absolute beast. He did what Davante did in his best season over his first 2 consecutive seasons. That’s a Dog!

75% chance we have a combo of 2 WR who break 1,500 combined (e,g. 850 + 650 etc..).

I think Watson will garner attention from the #1 CB and if he doesn’t? he’ll put up a 1,000+ year 1. Watson is bigger and faster at every last drill at testing than MVS, but with a higher skill level. Christian is the #2 WR RAS in over 2,600+ tested over 35 years! They’d better double him!
 
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tynimiller

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I think you’ve underestimated what a good (not exceptional) WR can do with no clear cut WR1. Add to that the most accurate passer in NFL history still cresting a wave? 1,000 isn’t today what it was 25 years ago.

50% Chance GB has at least 1 WR who breaks 1,000

75% chance we have a combo of 2 WR who break 1,500 combined.

I believe GB will have 4 WRs over 400 yards this year....little trivia for everyone when was the last season that happened?

I also believe we will have 3 WRs over 500 yards this year....when was the last time that happened?

(will post answers tonight or tomorrow)
 

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NFC North breakdown -

Packers should win the division easily, Lions and Vikes will be mediocre (at best), and the Bears will challenge for the #1 selection in the NFL draft. That's it. That's the breakdown. The NFC North is one of the worst divisions in the NFL.
 

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My under/overs for receiving yards.
RBs & TEs- 1485
Lazard & everyone else- 785
Rookies- 775
Cobb & Watkins- 760
 

tynimiller

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NFC North breakdown -

Packers should win the division easily, Lions and Vikes will be mediocre (at best), and the Bears will challenge for the #1 selection in the NFL draft. That's it. That's the breakdown. The NFC North is one of the worst divisions in the NFL.

I'd say it is the 3rd worst or middle.

I would place NFC East beneath it. I would place AFC South beneath it as well personally.

The equivalent divisions IMO to the NFC North are the AFC East and NFC South....divisions with a clear lead dog (Packers)...a maybe (Minnesota)

IMO the NFC West, AFC West and AFC North are the three top dogs division wise...then it is either
 

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Watson is bigger and faster at every last drill at testing than MVS, but with a higher skill level.
seems to have the same propensity for drops as mvs as well. it is the preseason, and my hopium level is as high as it will be because we haven't lost a single game yet. i was simply raising concerns. however, in terms of our conquest of the nfc north, i am confident.
 
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seems to have the same propensity for drops as mvs as well. it is the preseason, and my hopium level is as high as it will be because we haven't lost a single game yet. i was simply raising concerns. however, in terms of our conquest of the nfc north, i am confident.
The point I’m trying to make is The Packers don’t need one 1500 guy and a bunch of relative nobodies (see 2021). Although it’s unlikely Adams does that every year as there would’ve become an infusion of talent around him of weapons. Tonyan, Watkins, those guys are going to eat up targets, it’s a numbers Game. People get too set on 1 player imo.

As long as the Packers get anywhere near ~4,000 receiving? Plus increase their Running yardage by 200 yards what’s the difference? Our Running game will do that and more in 2022 imo. Look at the OL talent coming in and coming back.

Like I heard James Jones argue about this and I trust him he’s not far removed from the profession at all. If Aaron Rodgers has a Defense allowing 17pts per game, do we honestly think he’s incapable of winning games? I’ll put my $$ that Aaron will score more than 17pts a game and regularly.

Look at this 2022 Defense. With exception of maybe 2009-2010 can you remember a Defensive group that looked this stout in the last 25 years? We are 2-3 good backups from a top 5 unit imo. If we even go top 8 D, IF even just 1 of these Rookie WR rise to the occasion? You’re in for a treat.

I have GB losing 4-5 games, but only because of a tough schedule. and learning curve early on. The only outlier is if we are near last in injuries again. If injuries stay reasonable then we’re going to be similar strength (or better) than last year.

By no means are we laying down on Offense or timid because Davante is a Traiter Raider (and yes I would say it to his face) ;) When you see the Raiders ship floating in the current and on flames later this season? I’ll absolutely salute him out of respect as I lounge on a lifeboat :tup:
 
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Sunshinepacker

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seems to have the same propensity for drops as mvs as well. it is the preseason, and my hopium level is as high as it will be because we haven't lost a single game yet. i was simply raising concerns. however, in terms of our conquest of the nfc north, i am confident.

I believe most feel that Watson's drops are more of the concentration variety rather than a hands issue.
 

AKCheese

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The point I’m trying to make is The Packers don’t need one 1500 guy and a bunch of relative nobodies (see 2021). Although it’s unlikely Adams does that every year as there would’ve become an infusion of talent around him of weapons. Tonyan, Watkins, those guys are going to eat up targets, it’s a numbers Game. People get too set on 1 player imo.

As long as the Packers get anywhere near ~4,000 receiving? Plus increase their Running yardage by 200 yards what’s the difference? Our Running game will do that and more in 2022 imo. Look at the OL talent coming in and coming back.

Like I heard James Jones argue about this and I trust him he’s not far removed from the profession at all. If Aaron Rodgers has a Defense allowing 17pts per game, do we honestly think he’s incapable of winning games? I’ll put my $$ that Aaron will score more than 17pts a game and regularly.

Look at this 2022 Defense. With exception of maybe 2009-2010 can you remember a Defensive group that looked this stout in the last 25 years? We are 2-3 good backups from a top 5 unit imo. If we even go top 8 D, IF even just 1 of these Rookie WR rise to the occasion? You’re in for a treat.

I have GB losing 4-5 games, but only because of a tough schedule. and learning curve early on. The only outlier is if we are near last in injuries again. If injuries stay reasonable then we’re going to be similar strength (or better) than last year.

By no means are we laying down on Offense or timid because Davante is a Traiter Raider (and yes I would say it to his face) ;) When you see the Raiders ship floating in the current and on flames later this season? I’ll absolutely salute him out of respect as I lounge on a lifeboat :tup:
Heck yeah when’s the last time Rodgers failed to put up 17 points in a game??
 

captainWIMM

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The point I’m trying to make is The Packers don’t need one 1500 guy and a bunch of relative nobodies (see 2021). Although it’s unlikely Adams does that every year as there would’ve become an infusion of talent around him of weapons. Tonyan, Watkins, those guys are going to eat up targets, it’s a numbers Game. People get too set on 1 player imo.

Tonyan was here with Adams over the last four seasons and I'm quite sure the Packers wouldn't have signed Watkins if Adams was still around.

As long as the Packers get anywhere near ~4,000 receiving? Plus increase their Running yardage by 200 yards what’s the difference?

It doesn't make a difference if the Packers passing game doesn't miss a beat in 2022. I'm not convinced that will happen though.

Look at this 2022 Defense. With exception of maybe 2009-2010 can you remember a Defensive group that looked this stout in the last 25 years? We are 2-3 good backups from a top 5 unit imo.

If the Packers stay healthy on defense the unit could definitely end up being a top five unit in the league.

The only outlier is if we are near last in injuries again. If injuries stay reasonable then we’re going to be similar strength (or better) than last year.

The Packers weren't even close to being one of the most injured teams in the league last season.

 

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