Chart: 2013 NFC North team capsules

  • Updated: September 5, 2013 - 8:55 PM

Sizing up The vikings’ competition in the NFC north

CHICAGO bears

2012 record: 10-6, third, missed the playoffs.

Key addition: Coach Marc Trestman. The quarterbacking guru has brought out the absolute best in players such as Bernie Kosar, Jake Plummer, Scott Mitchell and former league MVP Rich Gannon. Now, he teams up with Jay Cutler, a guy who’s far more gifted physically than any of those players. Can the 57-year-old first-time NFL head coach bring his success from the CFL with him to Chicago? Who knows? But it will be fun to watch him try.

Key loss: Linebacker Brian Urlacher. The prototypical middle linebacker in the 4-3, Cover 2-based defense couldn’t play forever. His leadership and presence will be missed. But his breaking-down body won’t be. Rookie Jon Bostic has played well in the preseason. And D.J. Williams will help, too, once he returns from his calf injury.

Key number: 4. Number of Pro Bowlers (Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Julius Peppers, Henry Melton) who return from a defense that scored nine touchdowns and forced 44 turnovers.

Outlook: Trestman’s up-tempo West Coast offense is Cutler’s fifth different system in the past six seasons. From the outside, it doesn’t seem like a real good fit. Then again, Cutler has some Brett Favre in him, and he did pretty well in a West Coast scheme. Plus, Trestman’s track record with quarterbacks is impressive. And, well, let’s face it, the Bears couldn’t get much worse on offense than they were a year ago. Some wonder if Trestman can run an NFL team after five years and two Grey Cup titles with the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. That remains to be seen. But hiring Mel Tucker as defensive coordinator and having him basically keep Lovie Smith’s system intact shows a lot of savvy and little ego. The Bears fired Smith after a 10-6 season, 84 career victories, three division titles and a Super Bowl appearance. Cutler, in the last year of his contract, could be the next one shown the door if the Bears don’t return to the playoffs ASAP.

GREEN BAY Packers

2012 record: 12-6, first. Beat Vikings 24-10 in an NFC wild-card game; lost to 49ers 45-31 in the divisional round.

Key addition: Running back Eddie Lacy. When the Packers offense fell from No. 3 in 2011 to No. 13 a year ago, the reason was simple. Opponents had no reason to respect the running game. That probably changed at the draft when General Manager Ted Thompson took Alabama’s Lacy in the second round and UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin in the fourth.

Key loss: Left tackle Bryan Bulaga. The Packers simply cannot stay healthy. Losing Bulaga to a knee injury for the season derails coach Mike McCarthy’s grand plan to flip the right side of last year’s line to the left side. It also puts Aaron Rodgers’ blind side in the hands of rookie fourth-round draft pick David Bakhtiari.

Key number: 93. Games missed by starters a year ago. Numbers like this are far too common for the Packers, but Rodgers, McCarthy and Thompson always overcome.

Outlook: Before they addressed their running game, or complete lack thereof, the Packers used the 26th overall pick on UCLA defensive end Datone Jones. Once his ankle is healthy, which should be soon, Jones should help a Dom Capers-coached defense that was humiliated by 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the zone-read offense in last year’s playoff loss at San Francisco. Jones has experience in this 3-4 scheme and should be able to set the edge. Also, look for Capers to use that playoff debacle to figure things out. The offensive line is a concern once again. But it’s not as if Rodgers has operated behind a great line in recent years. He was sacked 51 times a year ago, so he’s used to pressure. Like all great QBs, Rodgers makes bad things disappear. If Lacy lives up to expectations, Rodgers and his receivers will carry the team into the playoffs. How far they go from there is something the defense may have to decide.

DETROIT lions

2012 record: 4-12, fourth.

Key addition: Running back Reggie Bush. His impact on a soft running attack that ranked 23rd a year ago remains to be seen. But his five-catch, 103-yard performance in a 40-9 preseason victory over the Patriots was further proof that he’ll be a force in the short passing game. That makes things tough for defenses that have to deal with Calvin Johnson in the deep passing game.

Key loss: Defensive end Cliff Avril. Losing last year’s team sack leader (9½) is a concern, especially when you consider that two of the biggest question marks about this team are at end and cornerback. That’s not good in a division that features Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler.

Key number: 3. Number of rushes of 20 yards or more by a Lions running back in 2012. Is Barry Sanders too old to make that comeback?

  • related content

  • – Urlacher

  • + Lacy

  • – Bulaga

  • + Bush

  • – Avril

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Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Arizona
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Cleveland
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Carolina
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
BYU 30 FINAL
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 52 4th Qtr 14:00
California 35
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Memphis
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
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Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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