The NFL season is right around the corner, and the NFC North is shaping up to be a competitive division for the upcoming season. The perennial powerhouse team in Green Bay is looking to be the Alpha of the division once again, but did lose top wide receiver Jordy Nelson to a season-ending injury.
The Detroit Lions look to build off a successful season last year, which ended in a tough loss to the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the playoffs. The Minnesota Vikings are considered by many to be a surprise team this season and contend for a playoff spot with the emergence of rising QB Teddy Bridgewater. Then there's the Chicago Bears, who are in rebuilding mode with a new head coach and a quarterback who is squarely on the hot seat.
Here are 5 bold predictions for the upcoming NFL season for the NFC North.
1. Golden Tate will be a top-10 wide receiver this season
This isn’t that big of a bold call considering Tate racked up over 1,300 yards and 99 catches last season. Doing it again would be more impressive, and I think Matthew Stafford might be in for a great statistical season with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate at his disposal.
2. The Chicago Bears will be starting someone other than Jay Cutler at QB by Week 8
Cutler was already in hot water last season, as Chicago stumbled to a 6-10 record and both the head coach and GM were fired. While Cutler may have been initially spared, his road doesn’t get any easier with a new regime in town. John Fox has been known to turn teams around quicker than most, and he won’t hesitate to move on from someone he doesn’t feel can help turn the ship around. The Bears will be at home against the Vikings in Week 8 after a bye, and if there was a time to make a change at QB that would be it.
3. Ty Montgomery will have the best offensive rookie year in the division
The 3rd round draft pick for the Green Bay Packers just got an uptick in snaps. When Nelson went down with an ACL tear in the preseason, everyone looked at Davante Adams (deservedly so). Montgomery should get plenty of opportunities to show his speed and get open, which is easier when you have Aaron Rodgers throwing you the ball.
4. Harrison Smith will become the best safety in football this season
Harrison Smith has become a force in the secondary and teams have to account for him on every snap. With a pass rush unit that is getting better each game, Smith will have his share of chances to jump routes and make a big difference this season. If Robert Blanton can be serviceable as the other safety, the Vikings' secondary could be just fine in a division of good quarterbacks.
5. A member of the NFC North will be in Super Bowl 50
The Packers are still the toast of the division and should’ve made the Super Bowl last season. Even with Nelson on Injured Reserve, I think they have enough talent to make it to the final game of the season. The Lions have a better chance than most think to do some serious damage this season. I peg them to finally snap their streak of eight straight playoff losses come January.
— Written by Josh Koop, who is a part of the Athlon Contributor Network and Director of New Media with the Bemidji Axemen of the Indoor Football League. You can follow Josh on Twitter at @Koopsnet.