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2013 NFC North Preview

AFC: East | North | South | West         NFC: East | North | South | West

2012 Common Opponents: NFC West, AFC South
2013 Common Opponents: NFC East, AFC North

In 2013, the NFC North sports 4 teams who each have a reasonable chance at finishing above .500, but having to face perhaps the 2 toughest divisions in the NFL as common opponents will make wins hard to come by. Due to the tough schedule and an increase of depth in the NFC of late, the solid NFC North could very well only produce 1 playoff team. The Packers remain heavy favorites in the division, but all of the other 3 teams have the potential to make a run.

Chicago Bears

2012 Record: 10-6
2012 Rating: 0.9 (14th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 8.2
2013 Division Rank Opponents: NO & STL
2013 Preliminary Rating: -0.1 (17th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 7.6

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
TE - Kellen Davis / 77 / FA >>> Martellus Bennett / 83 / NYG
G - Lance Louis / 79 / MIA >>> Kyle Long / 80 / rk
G - Chilo Rachal / 77 / FA >>> Matt Slauson / 78 / NYJ
T - Gabe Carimi / 77 / TB >>> Jermon Bushrod / 78 / NO
T - J'Marcus Webb / 76 / FA >>> Jordan Mills / 75 / rk
DE - Israel Idonije / 82 / DET >>> Corey Wootton / 79 / -
LB - Brian Urlacher / 81 / FA >>> Jon Bostic / 78 / rk
LB - Nick Roach / 81 / OAK >>> James Anderson / 77 / CAR

The Bears were a bit lucky to win 10 games last season based on their level of play. The roster has turned over a bit, but shouldn't largely change their overall quality in either direction. Chicago should again be in the race to make the playoffs, but is probably more likely than not to miss out again.

Detroit Lions

2012 Record: 4-12
2012 Rating: 0.0 (17th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 7.7
2013 Division Rank Opponents: TB & ARI
2013 Preliminary Rating: 0.8 (10th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 8.4

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
RB - Mikel Leshoure / 78 / - >>> Reggie Bush / 82 / MIA
WR - Titus Young / 77 / FA >>> Nate Burleson / 79 / inj
G - Stephen Peterman / 78 / NYJ >>> Larry Warford / 77 / rk
T - Gosder Cherilus / 83 / IND >>> Riley Reiff / 80 / -
T - Jeff Backus / 79 / ret >>> Jason Fox / 76 / inj
DE - Cliff Avril / 83 / SEA >>> Jason Jones / 83 / SEA
DE - Kyle Vanden Bosch / 77 / FA >>> Ezekiel Ansah / 81 / rk
LB - Justin Durant / 80 / DAL >>> Ashlee Palmer / 77 / -
CB - Jacob Lacey / 78 / MIN >>> Darius Slay / 79 / rk
S - Erik Coleman / 77 / FA >>> Glover Quin / 80 / HOU

The Lions have a lot of roster turnover from last season, but the overall quality of the roster hasn't changed much. The good news for Detroit is that the Lions were probably the unluckiest team in the league in 2012, deserving almost 8 wins rather than the 4 they managed. Further, the Lions fare well in our season-to-season regression, giving them a positive 2013 preliminary rating. Detroit is probably the most obvious pick for a turnaround team in 2013, other than those with significant QB changes. This season, they should make the leap to competitive, and even have a shot to make the playoffs.

Green Bay Packers

2012 Record: 11-5
2012 Rating: 4.4 (5th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 10.2
2013 Division Rank Opponents: ATL & SF
2013 Preliminary Rating: 2.3 (5th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 9.0

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
RB - Alex Green / 73 / NYJ >>> Eddie Lacy / 78 / rk
C - Jeff Saturday / 79 / ret >>> T David Bakhtiari / 74 / rk
T - Marshall Newhouse / 74 / - >>> Don Barclay / 74 / -
LB - Erik Walden / 75 / IND >>> Nick Perry / 78 / -

With minimal roster turnover, we can expect more of the same from the Packers in 2013. The only thing holding Green Bay back from Super Bowl contention a year ago was a suspect and injured offensive line. As a result, the Pack had their worst passing season of the last 4 years. With T Bryan Bulaga injured again, Green Bay may find themselves in a similar position this season. Regardless, the Packers remain strong favorites in the NFC North, and still have a legitimate shot at being among the top few teams in the league in 2013.

Minnesota Vikings

2012 Record: 10-6
2012 Rating: -0.2 (19th of 32)
2012 Deserved Wins: 7.5
2013 Division Rank Opponents: CAR & SEA
2013 Preliminary Rating: -0.8 (25th of 32)
2013 Wins by Preliminary Rating: 7.1

Projected Changes to Starting Lineup:
WR - Michael Jenkins / 78 / FA >>> Greg Jennings / 86 / GB
LB - Jasper Brinkley / 75 / ARI >>> Marvin Mitchell / 78 / -
CB - Antoine Winfield / 84 / SEA >>> Josh Robinson / 75 / -

The Vikings return a similar roster to last year's successful season, but they won a whole 2.5 more games than they really deserved in 2012. On top of that, they don't fare well in our 2013 preliminary ratings based on estimated year-to-year regression, and face a brutal schedule in 2013. The Vikings are by far the 2012 playoff team most likely to miss out on the playoffs this season, but they still have some hope of replicating a season similar to 2012.

AFC: East | North | South | West         NFC: East | North | South | West

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