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?

Outlook: Good luck trying to figure out what the Lions will do from year to year. They could be 4-12 or 12-4 and no one would say they’re surprised either way. One thing we do know is Matthew Stafford, if healthy, will team with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan and Johnson to sling the ball for close to 5,000 yards. Whether they’re doing it to crush opponents or come back from 25 points down remains to be seen. A revamped defensive line includes new faces at end [first-round draft pick Ziggy Ansah and former Bear Israel Idonije] and outstanding tackle Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. This unit probably has to dominate for the younger back seven to succeed in this division. Running the ball never has been a high priority for Linehan, but the Lions will try to run it more efficiently with Bush. That part of the offense basically is designed only to help the line protect Stafford. This year, that line has three new starters after losing tackles Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus and guard Stephen Peterman.

MARK CRAIG









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NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 108 4th Qtr 2:29
Toronto 106
Utah 82 4th Qtr 0:55
Boston 83
Charlotte 110 4th Qtr 2:55
Brooklyn 85
Denver 77 3rd Qtr 1:10
Minnesota 63
Detroit 59 3rd Qtr 1:52
New Orleans 58
LA Lakers 59 3rd Qtr 4:01
Miami 65
Philadelphia 84 3rd Qtr 4:16
Oklahoma City 70
Memphis 81 4th Qtr 11:18
Houston 79
Sacramento 38 3rd Qtr
San Antonio 54
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
Golden State
Portland 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Ottawa 3 3rd Prd 17:59
Winnipeg 0
NY Rangers 1 3rd Prd
Detroit 1
Pittsburgh 9:00 PM
Colorado
Montreal 9:00 PM
Anaheim
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 52 FINAL
New Hampshire 54
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 39 2nd Half 7:34
Duke 81
Purdue 37 2nd Half 9:27
Michigan State 47
Miami-Florida 57 2nd Half 3:45
Pittsburgh 53
St Bonaventure 57 2nd Half 5:32
Saint Louis 44
New Mexico St 57 2nd Half 6:16
TX-Pan American 46
Houston 48 2nd Half 4:14
Tulane 50
Howard 57 2nd Half 2:15
NJIT 71
TCU 28 1st Half 2:27
Oklahoma State 30
Cincinnati 25 1st Half 4:31
Tulsa 13
USC 23 1st Half 3:49
UCLA 38
Miss State 34 1st Half 1:14
Vanderbilt 32
Utah State 26 1st Half 3:23
Wyoming 32
St Johns 16 1st Half 8:34
Marquette 18
SIU Edwardsville 10 1st Half 12:59
Eastern Ill 10
Air Force 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Nebraska 9:00 PM
Illinois
Colorado State 9:00 PM
Nevada
Boise State 9:00 PM
San Jose St
San Diego St 10:00 PM
UNLV
Oregon 10:00 PM
Oregon State
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 56 2nd Half 1:34
Milwaukee 55
Purdue 42 2nd Half 8:11
Wisconsin 51
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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 NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

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