The Biggest Christmas Wish For Every NFC North Team In 2024

by Tyler Feinstein
Football Helmet

The NFC North is looking to be one of the more promising divisions in the NFL in 2024. This is easily the best the division has looked in at least a decade plus. But if each team wants to maximize results, they definitely need some pieces to fall in the right place. In this article I will go over the biggest Christmas wish for every NFC North club. 

Green Bay Packers: A Strong Defense 

Despite having the youngest roster in the NFL last season, Green Bay overcame the immense obstacle of a 3-6 start to finish the season on 7-2 run to crash the playoff party at 9-8. They further exceeded expectations by crushing the #2 seeded Dallas Cowboys in the wild card round before narrowly falling to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round. 

The pieces are set on offense. Jordan Love looks to be the Packers new franchise signal caller after a tremendous second half of the season. The offensive backfield also received an upgrade by adding former Las Vegas Raiders star running back Josh Jacobs along with drafting USC running back Marshawn Lloyd in round 3. Wide Receivers Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Jayden Reed and Dontayvion Wicks could all be potent weapons in their own right. Don’t forget about the young tight end duo of Tucker Kraft and Luke Musgrave. The offensive line got a major buff in the draft with first round selection Jordan Morgan adding to an already strong offensive front.

But you can’t win with offense alone. New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley will be tasked with turning a young defensive unit into one of the better defenses in the NFL. The talent is definitely there with Rashan Gary, Preston Smith, Lukas Van Ness, Kenny Clark, Karl Brooks, Quay Walker and second round pick Edgerrin Cooper up front. But the backfield doesn’t lack talent either.

 Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes look to finally stay healthy while second year cornerback Carrington Valentine looks to improve on a solid rookie season. Xavier McKinney was one of the biggest free agent grabs, in addition to adding second round safety Javon Bullard, and fourth round safety Evan Williams. 

If new defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley can get a productive unit out of this group, the Green Bay Packers could make a very deep playoff run.

Chicago Bears: Building A Stable Foundation

After years of being the NFC’s basement, the Chicago Bears are finally looking on the upswing this season. #1 overall pick Caleb Williams looks to cement himself as Windy City’s long term option under center. But his supporting cast is actually pretty strong. 

Free agent signing D’Andre Swift and backup running back Khalil Herbert is a serviceable duo on the ground. The trio of DJ Moore, #9 overall pick Rome Odunze and newly acquired Keenan Allen should form a potent unit in the passing game. Up and coming tight end Cole Kmet and a serviceable running mate in Gerald Everett should be one of the NFL’s better tandems at the position. The offensive line, while not among the NFL’s elite, is still far from a weakness and is definitely an improvement over last year’s abysmal showing. If new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron can get steady production in year one, that will be huge for the unit’s overall growth.

The defense, while having some young bloods, is more veteran heavy. Montez Sweat, DeMarcus Walker, Andrew Billings, Gervon Dexter, TJ Edwards and major free agent pickup Tremaine Edmunds form a decent unit up front. The secondary is the strength of this defense though. 

Jaylon Johnson is one of the best cornerbacks in the league and Tyrique Stevenson looks to build on an excellent rookie campaign. Nickelback Kyler Gordon also has room to improve. Safeties Jaquon Brisker also has time to get better, while free agent veteran Kevin Byard looks to bounce back after a lackluster stint in Philadelphia. 

If Caleb Williams can prove he is indeed the future of the franchise, as well as the other younger players start to click earlier than expected, the Bears could find themselves in the playoff mix.

Detroit Lions: Retaining the NFC North Crown 

2023 couldn’t have gone much better for the Detroit Lions. They finished the season with a 12-5 record, won the NFC North for the first time since 1991, and clinched the #3 seed in the NFC. They marched past the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to reach the NFC Championship for the first time since 1991 where they were extremely close to making the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl appearance. 

The NFC North won’t be as easy in 2024 with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Minnesota Vikings all making significant upgrades to their rosters. But Detroit also made some major roster moves of their own.  

The offense is the most dangerous in the NFC North and one of the most lethal in all of the NFL. Franchise quarterback Jared Goff leads the charge as one of the NFL’s star quarterbacks. Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery are one of the best running back duos in the NFL. Amon Ra St Brown is one of the best wide receivers in the NFL with former first round wide receiver Jameson Williams looking to become a bigger aerial threat in the offense. Rising star tight end Sam LaPorta will likely cement himself as one of the top tight ends in the league this season. To top it all off, the offensive line is outstanding and is one of the best across the NFL. 

The defense last year definitely left certain aspects to be desired and looks to make a jump this season. The front seven is solid with star edge rusher Aiden Hutchinson, Alim McNeil, free agent pickup DJ Reader, Marcus Davenport, Alex Anzalone, Derrick Barnes and Jack Campbell. Detroit’s secondary was their weakest group last year and they attacked the position heavily in the offseason. 

They traded for Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Carlton Davis to solidify their need for a top end corner. The Lions also selected Alabama cornerback Terrion Arnold in round 1 and Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw in round 2 to pair alongside Carlton Davis, with second year nickel back Brian Branch seeking to ascend to one of the game’s best slot corners. 

As I stated earlier the NFC North is significantly tougher this year as opposed to last year. But the improvements to the roster and continued development of the younger players will make the Lions a force to be reckoned with and they are the favorite to repeat to stand atop the NFC North throne once again. 

Minnesota Vikings: A Smooth Transition

Out of all the teams in the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings made the most drastic changes to their roster. The coaching staff and front office remain intact, but the player personnel is alien compared to last season. 

For the first time since 2017 Kirk Cousins will not be leading the Minnesota offense after signing with the Atlanta Falcons in free agency. That responsibility will be split between two newcomers and in free agent acquisition, Sam Darnold and 2024 10th overall selection, JJ McCarthy. Sam probably wins the starting gig because of his experience, however I expect JJ to see a decent amount of playing time whether it’s Darnold underperforming or gets injured.

Whoever is under center however will have a strong supporting cast around them. Free agent running back Aaron Jones will look to boost a ground game that didn’t get much traction last season. Justin Jefferson is the best wide receiver in the NFL and has an up and coming partner in last year’s first round pick Jordan Addison. Star tight end TJ Hockenson is also one of the best at his position and will provide a great safety blanket for Sam and JJ. In addition to this lethal arsenal of weapons, the Vikings have one of the better offensive line units in the NFL that should provide good protection. 

The defense took a major leap last year under new defensive coordinator Brian Flores, and looks to carry a heavier workload this year. Longtime star edge rusher Danielle Hunter left for the Houston Texans in free agency. But the Vikings used their leftover money quite wisely with signing Texans pass rusher Jonathan Greenard and linebacker Blake Cashman, Dolphins linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel, and Bills nose tackle Harrison Phillips. The Vikings also drafted Alabama star edge rusher Dallas Turner at 17th overall in the 2024 NFL Draft to add to an already formidable pass rush.

The biggest Christmas gift for the Minnesota Vikings in 2024 is to hope the transition from Kirk Cousins to Sam Darnold/JJ McCarthy is as smooth as possible. If JJ McCarthy can prove to the Vikings brass that he is the future under center, the season is already a success. But if some of the younger players and newcomers can produce at a high level, the Minnesota Vikings could be sneaky this upcoming season.

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