NFC North Round-Up: Best-Case Scenarios for Each Team in 2023

Dec 5, 2021; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) yells out before the snap during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFC North has gone through quite the makeover this spring. Four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers left the Packers, the Bears spent more money than anyone in free agency, Minnesota cut ties with a couple longtime starters, and Detroit made big acquisitions to their defense.

With all that being said, what exactly is the ceiling for each team, and what is the blueprint for them reaching that ceiling? Today, we will go over the best-case scenarios for each team in 2023.

Justin Fields Takes a Massive Leap Forward

NFC North Round-Up: Best-Case Scenarios for Each Team in 2023
Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields (1) looks on in the second quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

In order for the Chicago Bears to find success this season, they need their young quarterback to lead them. Justin Fields was selected with the 11th overall pick back in 2021. Since joining the Bears, he’s proven to be a threat with his legs, but over his first two seasons there have been plenty of growing pains as a passer.

The Bears passed the ball just 377 times last season, by far the lowest in the NFL. They were a rather lethargic offense when passing as well, averaging just 5.1 yards per attempt, tied for the lowest in the league with the Arizona Cardinals, who spent the final six games of the season without Kyler Murray.

Part of the reason for this unproductive passing offense is the help that Fields has gotten in Chicago. The offensive line has had its fair share of struggles, but they improved down the stretch of the 2022 season and adds Darnell Wright to the mix at tackle for 2023. The wide receiver room has been underwhelming as well, but with additions of D.J. Moore and Tyler Scott, this looks like the most promising group that Fields has had during his NFL career.

With these new pieces in place, and major free agency acquisitions on the defensive side of the ball, the hope is that the game can finally slow down for Fields in 2023.

Aidan Hutchinson Leads a Ferocious Lions Defense

Sep 18, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Lions defensive end Aidan Hutchinson (97) celebrates a sack against Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz (11) during the first half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Junfu Han-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions offense quietly performed like an elite unit in 2022, ranking among the league’s top-five teams in points scored, total yards, and first downs. Jared Goff had arguably his best season of his career during his second year in the Lions system, and Jamaal Williams provided steady production out of the backfield, leading the NFL in rushing touchdowns.

However, an elite offense was countered by a truly putrid defense that was bottom-five in points allowed and also was 32nd in both total yards allowed and yards per play allowed. Part of the reason for these struggles was Aidan Hutchinson, the 2022 Draft’s second overall pick, getting his year off to a very slow start.

Hutchinson had 3 sacks in Week 2 against the Washington Commanders, but outside of that, he recorded just 1.5 sacks over Detroit’s first eight games. He didn’t have a big outburst like that Week 2 game again, but in the final nine games for the Lions 2022 season, he became much steadier, recording 5 sacks and had 29 pressures, per Pro Football Focus. In six of those nine games, PFF graded him at 65.0 or higher, compared to just two such grades over Detroit’s first eight games.

A more consistent second season for Hutchinson will go a long ways for the Lions to leave their mark on the NFL this year. They made big splashes in free agency, signing Cam Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley, and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to their secondary while also making intriguing draft selections in Jack Campbell and Brian Branch. If the Lions can pair a ferocious defense with a strong offense this year, they will be tough to beat.

Green Bay’s New Additions Make Life Easy on Jordan Love

Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) against the Minnesota Vikings during their football game on Sunday, January, 1, 2023 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Wm. Glasheen USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin Apc Packers Vs Vikings 3436 010123 Wag

The Green Bay Packers have been notorious for passing on top offensive weapons during the Aaron Rodgers era at quarterback, but Rodgers is no longer around. Instead, he will be suiting up in a slightly darker shade of green with the New York Jets, and Jordan Love will start at QB for the Packers this year.

The Packers seem to realize that they cannot rely on a four-time MVP quarterback to carry their offense anymore because they spent this year’s draft loading up on pass catchers for Love to throw to. During Day 2, they selected TE Luke Musgrave (42nd overall), WR Jayden Reed (50th overall), and TE Tucker Kraft (78th overall).

Two tight ends within 36 picks of each other may seem excessive, but the Packers had a huge need at the position with only Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis returning as players with NFL experience.

The duo have very similar skillsets and were huge threats in the passing game over their respective college careers. In 2022, both players missed time due to injury, but in 2021, they combined for 87 receptions, 1074 yards, and 7 TDs for their respective programs.

Brian Flores Finds a Lockdown Corner in Minnesota’s Young Secondary

Aug 14, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Vikings cornerback Andrew Booth. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The cornerback position has been elusive for the Minnesota Vikings over the past few years. Between injuries to young players and underwhelming play from veteran free agent signings, they’ve had a tough time trying to find a pair of starting quality players to man the secondary.

This offseason, Minnesota brought in Brian Flores as defensive coordinator to try and revamp their defensive unit that, like the Lions, was among the bottom of the league in points allowed, total yards allowed, and yards per play allowed.

One of their main signings in free agency was CB Byron Murphy, a versatile defensive back that can play all over the secondary if need-be. Then, they doubled up on defensive backs with the selections of Mekhi Blackmon and Jay Ward to add on top of some young talent in Andrew Booth Jr., Akayleb Evans, and Tay Gowan.

One of the main tasks for 2023 in Flores’ defense will be finding a lockdown corner among these young players that can play consistent defense opposite of Murphy. If Minnesota can get better in pass coverage while also maintaining a top-10 scoring offense, they should be able to compete with anyone in a wide-open NFC.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.