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Valdes-Scantling TD catch

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

With a month to go before the NFL Draft, it’s a bit early to predict the final standings – but with the fireworks of free agency mostly concluded, it appears the two division teams with the worst records – Green Bay went 6-9-1 and Detroit was 6-10 – have upgraded the most. According to many, the two teams with the best records in 2018 failed to improve or went backwards.

Sporting News just ranked every NFL team on its signings and trades so far in 2019. Four teams received “A” grades (in order): Browns, Packers, Jets, and Raiders.

The Saints and 49ers were given a grade of A-. Getting B grades were: Ravens, Jags, Dolphins, and Patriots.

Skipping down to the seven B- teams, the Lions were the last one, leaving them ranked nineteenth overall.

Six teams were given a grade of C: the Bears came in at 22nd overall, while the Vikings came in last, and least, of the NFC North teams, at 25th overall.

For the Win, a USA Today product, on March 19 handed out its “best and worst of the offseason (so far)” awards. The Packers earned the “team that did too much” tag. Here’s their reasoning:

We get it: New GM Brian Gutekunst isn’t Ted Thompson, the former Packers front office man who notoriously stayed out of free agency much to the chagrin of spoiled Packers fans. But Gutekunst did too much. The Adrian Amos signing was a smart one, but then he went ahead and overpaid for the Smiths, Preston and Za’Darius, before deciding that underwhelming guard Billy Turner was worth a long-term investment. I’m sure fans in Green Bay are happy to be in on the free agency fun, but it won’t last very long.

TouchdownWIRE, another USA Today feature, presented its 2019 power rankings just after the first week of free agency. I had to click through the list, 32 times, worst to first. Detroit was 22nd, Vikes 20th, Packers 15th, and Bears 5th. The top four were the Pats, Saints, Rams, and Chargers.

NBC Sports recently picked its winners and losers from the 2019 offseason in this way: Browns, Jets, and Packers were winners, and Giants, Chiefs, and Rams were losers.

SB Nation decided to grade major individual signings of free agents and trades. Regarding the NFC North teams:

Bears Signing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – A (short term) TBD (long term)

Vikings re-sign LB Anthony Barr – A

Packers sign OL Billy Turner – B

Packers sign LB Preston Smith – A (short term), B+ (long term)

Packers sign S Adrian Amos – B

Packers sign LB Za’Darius Smith – B- (short term), C+ (long term)

Lions sign DE Trey Flowers – B

Lions sign WR Danny Amendola – B- (short term), C- (long term)

Conclusions

There’s a fair division of opinion here – and I couldn’t come up with ratings by some of the more respected prognosticators. I know that one respected source rated the Lions in its highest tier of FA signings, and the Packers next highest, but I can’t remember who that was. I’ll just go with my gut.

I believe the Bears got lucky with only five players put on the IR list last season. If they have an average number of serious injuries in 2019, I feel that will drop them to either 10-6 or 9-7. Additionally, they lost two valuable defensive backs in Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos – and we know DBs are hard to replace.

The Vikings wound up 8-7-1 last season, and they’ve basically held pat during the FA season. I see no reason for them to markedly change, so I foresee either an 8-8 or 9-7 season for them.

The Lions appear to have made some appreciable gains in free agency. Maybe Trey Flowers will raise the team up as Kahlil Mack did the Bears last season. I would guess they’ll finish either 8-8 or 9-7.

Our beloved Packers underperformed last year. Even though Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine received praise almost uniformly, he couldn’t keep patching up the secondary every time another DB limped off the field. The Packers’ edge rush was almost non-existent in 2018 – which won’t be the case this season. I’m also looking for Coach Matt LaFleur to reinvigorate two-time league MVP Rodgers. I look for our guys to reverse the wins and losses, to either 9-7 or 10-6.

If these forecasts are close, it would indeed mean that all four of the teams in the division will indeed finish with at least a .500 record – and that 10-6, or even 9-7, will be enough to win the division. Parity!

Things might change when the draft takes place, but at this early juncture I think the NFC North could well end up being a four-horse photo finish. I don’t see any team being out of the running by, say, Week 14, nor do I see any team clinching the division prior to Week 15. It’s likely they’ll be two, or even three, teams vying for the top spot in the division going into the final week of the regular season.

Waddya think: no great teams in the division, but no patsies either?

Tags:
Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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28 Comments

  1. Cheese April 3, 2019

    I would be shocked if the entire NFC North finished above .500

  2. PF4L April 3, 2019

    Grades? Those people are a lot smarter than i am. Here i thought BillyTurner for 11 million his first year was a strong A. Just goes to show, i’m still the student.

    I’n sure these writers have it pegged, but i look forward to mock drafts and “post draft grades”. Where the NFL experts shine.

    Anyone who can predict draft picks and how they’ll perform in the NFL has my respect.

    Must be the off-season.

  3. KILLER April 3, 2019

    It is possible and it is interesting. The Packers and Lions are doubtless improved and it sure looks like the Bears are likely to take a step back.

    For the Packers, as usual, the big factor will be Aaron Rodgers. It looked like he was not giving his all last year even after McCarthy was fired. Maybe he was tanking to get him fired and then needed to keep tanking in order to make it look like he was not tanking before. Or maybe he’s getting old. We’ll see. Still bad this year? Old. Better this year? Tanker.

    That Patricia with the Lions is a real whackadoodle. Hard to see the players really playing hard for him. Then again, players really play for themselves and their future and their teammates. Stafford way under-performed last year… and the Lions still beat the Packers twice, once on Green Bay and once in a landslide rout. Now imagine an improved defense and Stafford playing like his old self. Oooo, the trembling of Packer fans is vibrating the ground! Feels like a ride!

    Where I think you have it wrong — and I know this will shock you — is with the Vikings. Here is what you wrote:
    “The Vikings wound up 8-7-1 last season, and they’ve basically held pat during the FA season. I see no reason for them to markedly change, so I foresee either an 8-8 or 9-7 season for them.” There are quite a few reasons for them to markedly change = Cousins Yr 2 in MN, new competent OC, and a fixed offensive line. Josh Kline is quite the get at RG. Plus draft. There are other reasons like Cook fully recovered from major injury, etc. Another way to look at it is that the Vikings are almost the same team that went 13-3 in 2017 except with a much better QB.

    I think the Packers have the easiest schedule in the division and the Vikings the hardest so you could maybe make an equality argument after strength of schedule is factored in while acknowledging the Vikings are the actual best team. You know, if you want to.

    1. PF4L April 3, 2019

      What do you see L. B.? The queens going into Philly and beating down the Eagles? The queens winning a Super Bowl? Your sister giving up the street? A Lombardi trophy in the queens new trophy room, which is currently being used as a closet?

    2. Ferris April 4, 2019

      Cousins year 2 in MN= the same old Cousins. He still sucks with some of the best receivers in the NFL. Marginal stats and a 34-38-2 career record. Take a look at the company that puts him in…Tyrod Taylor is over .500 as a starter, so is Matt Schaub.
      https://www.footballdb.com/stats/qb-records.html

      1. Ferris April 4, 2019

        That DeShone Kizer 0-15 at the bottom is some kind of shit. What team is that loser playing on? Oh wait…Gute traded for him because he really showed something at one point in pee wee league I guess. That should have been 1-14 but GB beat his ass in OT…what a win that was. Great job Fat Mike.

  4. Howard April 3, 2019

    Should a free agent or a group of free agents signed by any team receive above a C grade?

    1. PF4L April 3, 2019

      Should a injury prone player make 12 million/year because he had 11 sacks….once. Perplexing questions.

      Fackrell had what, 10 1/2 sacks?….What’s he due? 11 mill/year…Russ?

  5. Big B April 3, 2019

    Cousins is entering the second to last year of his contract….normally the time teams opt to lock up their franchise QB. I have heard nothing to that effect from the Land of 10,000 Lakes. How happy is Spielman with their prize free agent? Do they opt to just let the contract run its course? If they have doubts, and a QB falls to them do they pull the trigger, sit him for two years, then proceed with a low cost QB to counteract their tight cap situation? Just sayin’.

    1. PF4L April 3, 2019

      When you give a guy 84 large guaranteed over 3 seasons, your options are limited.

      In fairness, Cousins may not be the answer, but he’s better than all those 1st round picks they wasted away lookingt for a QB. That would have been painful to watch through the years, if it wasn’t so damn entertaining.

      1. PF4L April 3, 2019

        Ferris….i put an extra t accidently at the end of looking. I want to apologize ahead of time before you see it and write out a ticket. It was my fault, i’m guilty, so write me a ticket and i’ll pay it right away. I know i screwed up and i’m sorry.

        1. Ferris April 4, 2019

          You are forgiven, typos do not count as points off from the grammar police. I will try to be lenient on such a passionate Packer fan. Just leave a candy coated apple on my desk.

          1. PF4L April 5, 2019

            I should get points off. It’s not like i’m filing a legal brief where i can just half ass it. No sir, this is a sports blog. This is some serious business and we all thank God you are here to keep an eye on our grammar.

            Keep up the good fight my man.

            Thank you for understanding.

  6. Kato April 4, 2019

    Wow. That bleacher report article definitely paints an even uglier picture of what went down the past few years.

    If what is said of Aaron Rodgers is indeed true, they need to trade him. Period. That is unacceptable, and he just comes off as weird. You cannot be telling receivers to run different routes from what they are supposed to run, then let them get chewed out by their position coach for “running the wrong route.” Or ignoring MVS because he refused to play Aaron’s game and wanted to listen to his coaches? I thought it was weird that his production suddenly declined after a good run.

    Enough with his diva bullshit. If he isn’t going to buy into the offense and run it the way it is supposed to be ran, and undermine coaches, let him take the act elsewhere. This Favre 2.0 level crap

    1. Hey it's Cheese April 4, 2019

      I’m trying a new email and altered username to see if this message board stops giving me grief.

      I just finished that article and holy shit is this organization dysfunctional. Sounds like it was on the money with a lot of stuff. The only thing I wish it would have talked about more was Murphy’s lack of involvement, which it did briefly touch upon. It’s interesting that they said the Packers are becoming more corporate and less like a close family. That too, is right on the money.

      I’m not even going to try and analyze that article. There’s too much bullshit I wouldn’t even know where to start. The one thing that I came away with is that the fall of the Packers is a result of some massive fucking egos (McCarthy and Rodgers) that went unchecked (TT and Alfred Newman).

      The last time an article like this came out detailing the Packers drama, the Sports Illustrated piece, it wasn’t long before McCarthy got fired. I wonder who will be next? From the sounds of this article, it suggests the it would be Rodgers before it would ever be Murphy. I’m sure the board of directors and all the higher-ups in GB like that money that is being brought to the area thanks to Ole Ginger Gap Tooth. #PlayoffTown2019

      1. Hey it's Cheese April 4, 2019

        Nope. Still have to wait for moderation. Hopefully my comments get the green light before they’re an after thought.

        Another thing I thought of, all this dysfunction began after Murphy took over. The corporate coldness, the unchecked egos, communication silos, Ted holding a job while being a fucking geriatric… all under Murphy. Do you think those egos get that out of hand under Harlan and Wolf? Fuck no, because they actually would have had a finger on the pulse of their organization. They wouldn’t have been off in wonderland building a fucking playground and condos for five years straight.

      2. PF4L April 4, 2019

        What the **** have i been trying to tell everyone over the years?

        BROKEN

    2. Stiggy April 4, 2019

      P4l is officially Tyler dunne….lol that piece is literally this entire site summarized….even called McCarthy a buffoon

      1. Hey it's Cheese April 4, 2019

        I noticed that too Stiggy, lol.

  7. KILLER April 4, 2019

    The truth is out there Scully….

    https://bleacherreport.com/reaction-to-packers-drama

    1. Kato April 5, 2019

      The most telling response was the Twitter reply with the GIF of the play in question where Rodgers told EQSB to run a post route rather than a flag, and then Rodgers throws the flag route. Then looks all pissed off afterwards. He is a fucking sociopath.

  8. Kato April 5, 2019

    So, apparently this organization has had a team president that largely did nothing on the football side of things and let a dementia ridden general manager run all football operations until the team has a losing season and the general manager is shown catching flies in his mouth on national television. The president decides to go on a power trip and try to actually do his job. All while this is happening, apparently you have an egotistical head coach that refused to adapt to the changing game, even when results started to be poor. And your star quarterback and face of the franchise is a sociopath that apparently hated the head coach from day 1 for not drafting him first overall, because he is a petulant child. Quarterback decides he can just do what he wants on the field unchecked because him and coach are in a competition to see who calls the best plays. QB decides to start throwing plays/games to get hated coach fired (see: him telling a rookie to run one route and then he throws another, then acts like the rookie is an idiot). He stops throwing to the other rookie receiver because he tells the sociopath he doesn’t like him (likely because Rodgers was making his fellow receiver look like an idiot).

    Does this sum up the last 10 years pretty well?

    1. PF4L April 5, 2019

      These pretzels are making me thirsty!

      In unrelated sad news…..R I P Nipsey Russell.

      1. Kato April 5, 2019

        The gangster rapper? Meh

      2. Jason Parker April 6, 2019

        Is that how you’re going to say it?

        I would say THESE pretzels are making ME thirsty!!

  9. PF4L April 5, 2019

    Can we please get to the next article so we can blast the shit out of Aaron Rodgers and give him blame for all the dysfunction on the field and in the front office?

    Lets do this!!

    1. Jason Parker April 6, 2019

      Wasn’t sure how to approach it. Gonna whip something up later – currently traveling and time is precious.

      Be sure to watch Greg Jennings interview on YouTube, lots of things were clarified.

  10. Droolingted April 6, 2019

    Queers fans…the most delusional fans in the history of sports! These same fans ridiculed the Packers for draft and develop, buying free agents is the way to go. Packers buy some free agents..queers fans say stupid..draft and develop is the way to go. Those barney fucking retards, think any time there is a Packer related article, they have to comment on it! I could give two fucks about your shitty purple team, therefore I do not comment on any articles about that team! I think it is funny they mention stuff about losing in championship games!! When has that team ever won anything! Go Vike Yourselves, you stupid fucks!