Each NFC North’s Biggest Draft Need

By Leo Silbert

It is getting to the point of the year that fans are trying to figure out who their team needs to draft or what position needs the most help. Some teams like the Patriots don’t have a glaring need so they are able to pick for desire and are allowed greater risks. Other teams like the Browns have needs all over the map so they are best suited to just take the best available player. I’m going to sort this out by division and within the divisions I’ll sort them by 2016 records.

Next up, the NFC North:

  1. Divisional Playoffs - Green Bay Packers v Atlanta Falcons  Green Bay Packers- The Packers started the season out very slow at 4-6 and there were rumblings of how they should fire Mike McCarthy and that Aaron Rodgers might be done.  Then Rodgers made his now famous “we just have to run the table” comment and he proceeded to do that for the rest of the regular season while putting together one of the best 6 game stretches of quarterback play ever with 18 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions.  His great play over the closing weeks of the season and through the first two playoff games helped to mask some severe deficiencies on the rest of the team.  They were down to using wide receiver Ty Montgomery as their starting running back while they were moving safeties to corner back due to all the injuries suffered there.  The latter of those two is their biggest need because Ty Montgomery didn’t look too bad as a running back and they may be able to get away with him and a healthy Eddy Lacy is he is resigned.  Their corner backs on the other hand were Micah Hyde and a bunch of warm bodies, and Micah Hyde was a safety.  Sure, they’ll be getting Sam Shields off of injury, but before his injury he wasn’t looking that good.  If Green Bay can start building their corner back depth chart with some real corners, then their defense can start to complement Aaron Rodgers’ ability to play incredible even when he is at a talent disadvantage.
  2. matt-staffordDetroit Lions- The Lions are a team that has to think “if only Matt Stafford didn’t injure his throwing hand in the last month of the season.”  Before Stafford’s injury, he had the Lions looking like the comeback kids of the league and he had an outside shot at being named the MVP.  That was when the Lions were 9-4 and Stafford had engineered 8 fourth quarter comebacks.  After he injured his hand though, the team finished with 3 regular season losses and a wildcard round exit in the playoffs.  It sucks when an injury causes a meltdown for a team but now they need to focus on what they can do next year to help the team if Stafford ends up dealing with another injury?  Something that would really help them is a good running game.  The Lions have a stable of running backs who are all primarily talented at receiving the ball, but aren’t much of a threat to run the ball which is their primary job.  They have an offensive line that can create holes and move on pull blocks so the blame really does go back to the running backs.  If the Lions can get a true running back instead of what basically amounts to a short yardage receiver, then maybe Stafford won’t have to make so many comebacks and the team’s fortunes won’t solely be tied to his ability to stay healthy.
  3. Xavier RhodesMinnesota Vikings- During the early part of training camp and the preseason, the Vikings were a trendy Superbowl pick.  They had a great defense some people thought could be as good as the 2015 Broncos defense, a legendary running back in Adrian Peterson, and a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who was able to do enough to get his offense to score more than the defense would allow.  Then about a week before the season, Bridgewater went down with a horrific injury which prompted the Vikings to trade a first round pick and a future fourth round pick to the Eagles in exchange for Sam Bradford.  They started the season out 5-0, showing that the Superbowl predictions may have been well warranted, but after that hot start, they finished a disappointing 8-8.  Losing eight of your final 11 games shows that they had the same old Sam Bradford as he has always been (inconsistent qb who can show flashed of brilliance, but flashes of “why is this guy an NFL qb”).  That also shows that they had more deeply entrenched  deficiencies throughout the team.  The biggest need for this team is the same as many other teams I have done this for (and likely will again), offensive line.  Matt Kalil when healthy is one of the biggest draft busts of the last 10 years while his replacement TJ Clemmings was somehow even worse.  When you have some of the worst tackle play in the league, the rest of your offense suffers.  They also had some of the worst play in the league of any center in the league.  Nick Easton was below average in pass blocking and in run blocking he struggled to create any push.  The Vikings had okay play from their guards, but when they are surrounded by bad play, it is hard to see their impact.  If the Vikings can fix their offensive line, they may be able to prove that they could deserve Superbowl talk next season.
  4. leonard-floydChicago Bears- The Bears are a team of many needs at many positions.  They went into the season with many people having low expectations for their team and they definitely lived up to those lowly expectations.  They made some good draft picks with Leonard Floyd and Cody Whitehair, but there is a position that they need more than any other, and it is one of the positions they are most highly invested in.  Jay Cutler is done as a starting caliber NFL quarterback.  If the Bears want to compete in this league, they need a quarterback who can lead them there.  They have the pieces to have at least an average offensive line.  They have a good running back tandem, good receivers, a good tight end and a bunch of pieces on defense.  This team needs a quarterback probably more than any other team in the league and if they get a good one, then the Bears can finally be relevant again in today’s NFL.

Previous articles in this series:

AFC East- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-east-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC North- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/each-afc-north-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC South- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need/

AFC West- https://sportselite1.wordpress.com/2017/01/16/each-afc-south-teams-biggest-draft-need-2/

NFC East-

PACKERS ARE DONE

Written by Melvin Jackson III

The packers just lost in a bad way to a team that is not very good. They were outplayed in every aspect of the game and it was embarrassing.
Aaron Rodgers had two interceptions and two touchdowns but was under pressure the entire game and was never comfortable.

The receivers were dropping balls and the offense could not execute on 3rd down and they looked flat.

The running game was none existent and Montgomery needs to never play running back ever again.

The Titians were led by Mariota and Murray.

The run game was amazing and gashed the Packers defense with ease. The cheese heads were slicked like monetary jack cheese and they looked very soft like velvetta.

Mariota was looking like Tom Brady on the field and having his way throwing four touchdown passes. Murray even had a touchdown pass to walker to add insult to injury.

This coming week the packers have the redskins who are playing at a high level and they will not beat the skins this week. they will continue on the road to fighting for last place with Vikings and bears.

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NFL Weak 11 Powder Rankings: *All around the world same song*

By: Will Stevenson

What an NFL Sunday! Well, I only watch the Redzone Channel, so I don’t know what bad football looks like at the moment. As they say, ignorance is bliss. All in all, there is no way to avoid these bad teams, and as the season wears on, teams and players are falling off one by one. This week I can’t ignore the bad play, even if your team has some W’s in the win column; Bad is Bad! Alright, let’s look at the usual suspects and a few returners in NFL Weak 11 Powder Rankings.

  1. Cleveland (0-10)

The Browns are bad, but they aren’t super terrible. They have had six quarterbacks start this year and there is talk of another regime change. Last Thursday we were able to witness their Powderness. The thing is, it was Thursday Night Football, and I refuse to subject myself to such malarkey.

2. Green Bay Packers (4-5)

Have you seen their defense? I know their secondary has been banged up all season, but that performance against the Titans had me checking the ESPN scroll to see if Ted Thompson was going to let Mike McCarthy go. With the Vikings on a slide themselves, and the Lions being the Lions, the Packers could still win the North. Regardless, they suck right now. P-A-N-I-C.

3. New York Jets (3-7)

Even as I root for the Patriots, I refuse to delight in the misery of other fellow AFC East contenders. It’s tough because Bryce Petty is as bad as Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he’s as bad as Geno Smith, and they’re all as bad as Mark Sanchez and whoever was there previously. The defense is suffering, they are -65 in point differential, and have only won one game at home. They have a bye week coming up, so the y might as well go to Petty.

4. Jaguars (2-7)

Blake Bortles sure does overthrow his receivers on the deep ball. It’s getting worse in Jacksonville as the Jags have not forced a turnover since Week 4; It’s Week 11. Turnovers are a bit of luck, but there is strategy in forcing them, just ask the Chiefs. Another regime change in Jacksonville, I’ll stay tuned to the Espn scroll.

5. Buffalo Bills (4-5)

Remember when the Bills were riding high? Yeh, neither. The season will tell you who’s good and who’s not, and with Rex Ryan at the helm, they surely will suffer. The Bills are +34 in point differential, but have lost three straight games. Looks to be another marginal season for Rex and the Bills.

6. Bears (2-7)

Alshon Jeffrey is gone for four games. Jay Cutler is the quarterback. I don’t know what we expect form a John Fox coached team, we know what it looks like when the ship goes down. The Bears will start anew, again after the season.

7. 49ers (1-8)

Colin Kaepernick looked good yesterday. The 49ers didn’t allow 800 yards of offense, so that is a plus. They’re so bad that this feels like moral victories, even though it seems that nobody will be back for this team next year.

8. Rams (4-5)

I wasn’t going to put the Rams on here, because they won, but they still are a bad team. As long as Jeff Fisher is here, they will be average, and they are. Yes, they beat the Jets, but beating a bad team 9-6 isn’t something that excites me.

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The Pack is Back!

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Sports Elite

By Melvin Jackson

It’s that time of year again for the Green Bay Packers to head back into training camp to get ready for the new season. Everyone is healthy and has a clear mind with no distractions to head into the new season correctly. The coaching staff this past offseason added a few names to the wide receiver ranks and Eddie Lacy also shed some pounds to help him become an effective runner. On paper it seems as if the Packers are going to be that contender that they have been in the past years.

This year they will have Jordy Nelson back as the number one wide receiver for that bad man Aaron Rodgers.  Last season, you could tell if you payed attention to the team, that Rodgers missed his main guy. I admit, I didn’t think Nelson was that much of a missing piece because I thought Randall Cobb could step right in and take the reins of the number one spot. He did very well for the team but he is better suited as the number two on that team and will flourish this season with the attention that Nelson will bring from the opposing team defense.

An intriguing piece could really help them hold the ball is going to be Eddie Lacy. If he can return to running with power and speed like, he did two seasons ago he can take the pressure off Rodgers to throw almost every down.  Taking a look back to last season wildcard game again the Washington Redskins, the running game for the Packers was turned on which was a weakness for the Redskins because they were not a top run stopping defense.  The run game gave Rodgers an average of nine seconds to throw the ball which is a lifetime in the pros. He picked the defense apart and that led them back into the game and eventually to win it.

A look back a season before that when they played the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. The Cowboys had them right where they wanted them, on the brink of elimination. Tony Romo had the offense rolling and Demarco Murray was running at will on the Packers defense which has not been that good over the years dating back to when AJ Hawk was on the team. They got a break when Julius Peppers stripped the ball from Murray who usually carries the ball like a loaf of bread, and a highly debated dropped pass by Dez Bryant which myself thought, IT WAS A CATCH! If they would have scored there it would have put them up and with Rodgers basically playing on one leg, I thought the Cowboys would have won the game but they didn’t and the packers escaped.

On the defensive side of the ball this team is led by Clay Matthews. The rest of the defense is very young but talented. Last season their run stopping defense was bottom tier and this season they will not get nose tackle BJ Raji back because he informed the team that he does not want to play this season. Hopefully the defense will still survive with Rodgers outscoring the other team to cover up their flaws as usual. This team is still listed as one of the contenders for the championship this season and I have to agree, they will win their division easily as long as their health stays above all.

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Key To The Packers Offensive Success: Jordy Nelson

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Written by Micheal Hester

Usually when Aaron Rodgers is healthy, you can expect the Packers’ offense to break the scoreboard. Right? In 2013 and 2014, yes. In 2015? Green Bay’s offense has the reputation of being a point-scoring juggernaut, especially when All-Pro, Super Bowl champion quarterback Aaron Rodgers is healthy and running hot. In 2015 though, that wasn’t the case. After losing All-Pro receiver Jordy Nelson to an ACL tear during a preseason match-up against the Steelers, the Packers’ offense went on to struggle as a whole for the majority of the season and post season. 

The value of Jordy seemed to fly below the value of Aaron Rodgers for Green Bay. Both Rodgers and Nelson are equally important to the team. The Packers were forced to roll with Randall Cobb, fan-favorite James Jones, Ty Montgomery, Jeff Janis and Richard Rodgers to get the passing game going. Of the aforementioned the one that had the biggest season, statistically, was veteran wideout James Jones with 50 receptions, 890 yards and 8 touchdowns. 

The Packers offense as a whole took a dive in Nelson’s absence. They finished the season averaging 334.6 total yards per game, ranking them 23rd overall in the NFL. In the air, they averaged 218 yards per game which ranked them 26th overall. The run game was decent, averaging 115.6 yards per game, ranking them 12th overall. These numbers are a decline from previous seasons, where the Pack’s offense ranked atop the league in some of those same categories. 

All fingers point to Nelson’s absence being the reason for Green Bay’s offensive slump. Packers fans watched receivers like Davante Adams and Ty Montgomery struggle to beat press coverage and Randall Cobb’s inability to get open when lined up outside. And yes, James Jones was a spark in the passing game, given his past with Aaron Rodgers, but none of them had the explosiveness of Jordy. It was evident that he is the one weapon that secondary’s have to put multiple bodies on when he’s lined up on the field. The offense clearly missed the guy that put up 1,519 yards on 98 receptions and 12 touchdowns in 2014. 

As of now, it’s unknown whether Jordy will return to Green Bay in his old form. It was announced on July, 26 that he would enter training camp on the P.U.P. List

At 31 years old, it’s unknown whether Jordy Nelson will return to old form and once again make the Packers’ offense a top 5 again or not. We’ll see, in due time. But if the old Jordy shows up during the 2016 season, get ready for another scoreboard explosion. 

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