NFC North: 2017 NFL Previews

Written by AccuScore Staff
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NFC North: 2017 NFL Division Previews

AccuScore is doing division previews that look at every team in the division closely, highlight roster changes, point out fantasy opportunities and predict the season to come. For the NFC North division preview, AccuScore previews the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears for the 2017 NFL season below:

2017 NFC North Projections and Preview

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Other Previews:
NFC South Division Preview
NFC East Division Preview

Packers’ Upward Trend Will Continue

The Green Bay Packers completed last season with 8 wins over their last 9 games. Only the Atlanta Falcons proved to be too strong in the NFC Championship game. Accuscore simulations show that Packers will continue similar trend that they set up in December and January during the last season. The prediction show that Green Bay will have 12 wins at the end of the season and end up in a battle for the NFC’s no. 1 seed, with Seattle the most likely challenger of note.

The opening Sunday game against Seattle at Lambeau Field will be a testing way to start the season. A trip to Dallas in Week 5 and a trip to Pittsburgh in Week 12 should provide more meaning on how the Packers rank against two teams that expect to be near the top of the conference, as well.

It would be a quite big surprise, if Green Bay’s 8 years’ streak of postseason appearances will end after this season. Their probability to reach playoffs is as high as it can be in these simulations - around 96%. Also their chances to win NFC North are very high at 90%. The computer likes Green Bay’s chances as long as Aaron Rodgers stays healthy.

Roster Moves

One of the biggest question marks on Green Bay’s roster is a running game. Eddie Lacy, Christine Michael and James Starks left the frozen tundra, and offensive linemen JC Tretter and TJ Lang also left cold of the North. Simulations as well as the front office of the Packers seem to be happy about the performance of Ty Montgomery, who converted from a WR to a RB during last season.

High performed passing game improved with the move of Martellus Bennett replacing Jared Cook. The defensive side of the ball remained quiet.


When reviewing other fantasy predictions, Aaron Rogers is a top rated QB and his main targets Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are top 25 receivers. Ty Montgomery can surprise some of the experts as he is among top 10 RBs in Accuscore fantasy predictions. New TE Martellus Bennett also belongs to top 15 TEs in the league. Even though there have been inconsistencies in the performance of the defense, Accuscore’s fantasy prediction shows them as one of the top 5 defenses in the NFL.

Minnesota Fights for a Playoff Spot

AccuScore projects Minnesota to have a real shot at the playoffs. Improving on last season’s 8-8 record, the Vikings project to squeak up to 9-7 and finish second in NFC North.

Based on AccuScore’s 10,000 simulations, the most probable wins for Minnesota arrive before their bye week, which is in Week 9. First, a visit to the Cleveland Browns is usually a confidence booster for teams. Another highly likely win is a few weeks later when the Los Angeles Rams come up to the state of a thousand lakes.

Looking for trends in the 2016 season, Minnesota gave up 16 points or fewer points in every win, with the lone exception of the win over Arizona in Week 14. A simpler way to put that: the Vikings always lost if the defense gave up over 15 points. The Vikings did exceptionally well in defensive slugfests.

Roster Moves

Like the division rival Detroit Lions, the Vikings also made some changes to their offensive line. Matt Kalil and Andre Smith took off and Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers came in. That should be an upgrade to the offensive line. Another change that impacts their running game is the departure of long-term franchise player Adrian Peterson. Latavius Murray from Oakland Raiders fame comes in to replace the gaping hole left by Peterson.
Notes: Cordarrelle Patterson signed with the Raiders. Minnesota also brought in Michael Floyd.


For fantasy players, QB Sam Bradford would be reasonable later round addition as he is ranked 16th among all quarterbacks. His primary target Stefon Diggs is predicted to be surprisingly high on the list of WRs. He might be a sleeper for many teams. Latavius Murray wasn’t among top 20 running backs during last season, but this time Accuscore’s fantasy simulations predict him to knock top 10 RBs when calculating fantasy points at the end of the season. Minnesota’s defense for fantasy is better than average but is a tier below the top shelf with Denver, Seattle and New England highlighting that list.

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Ups and Downs Continue in Detroit

Detroit Lions’ last season was a miniature picture of last few seasons: streaks of wins and streaks of losses. During the last seven seasons, the Lions have only once improved on the previous season’s record. This season, AccuScore is projecting the Lions to be closer to 7-9 than the impressive 9-7 of a season ago after the computer played out every game 10,000 times. The late season collapse of four straight losses showed problems on the both sides of the ball, and AccuScore isn’t convinced the Lions have done enough to address those issues.

Roster Moves

Detroit shuffled their offensive line a bit when Riley Reiff and Larry Warford took off and TJ Lang as well as Ricky Wagner joined the team. This change shouldn’t make a big difference for the team’s performance compared to last season, though. The defense changed personnel but did not pick up any standout playmakers. Tahir Whitehead shoulders a great deal, and he would generate good amount of fantasy points, but Detroit needs to stop the run early with Ziggy Ansah. Rushing defense as well as passing defense was below average during the last season.


When looking fantasy points, you don’t want to pick up Detroit defense. But you could check QB Matthew Stafford later rounds. Accuscore’s fantasy prediction ranks him in top12 qb of the league. WR Golden Tate is ranked 22nd and would be reasonable addition as second or third receiver of your fantasy team.

More Wins For Da Bears

The Chicago Bears are not contenders. They parted ways with their long time QB Jay Cutler and traded up during the draft to add Mitchell Trubisky as a new leader of the offense. However, it looks like Trubisky will start the season as a backup and Mike Glennon, who was acquired from Tampa Bay, will be the starting QB. How many wins will the Bears get with Glennon running the show?

Based on Accuscore’s simulations, Chicago will actually improve and claim one extra win compared to last season despite a tough schedule. The softest portion of the schedule arrives with Soldier Field hosting San Francisco and Cleveland. Those should count as two wins for the Bears. However, these games are in Weeks 13 and Week 16, and a losing season could see further turmoil with head coach John Fox’s shoulders heavy with pressure to start the season. Hosting Pittsburgh in Week 3 and at Green Bay in Week 4 are two brutal games.

The Bears did not manage a single road win last season. In fact, the Bears only even managed to score more than 17 points in a road game once, at Indianapolis. On home they didn’t score over 20 points until week 12, when their third starting QB of the season, Matt Barkley, was running the show. Needless to say, that offense needs to improve dramatically if Chicago wants to fight for a postseason berth.

Roster Moves

In addition to QB change, their top receiver, Alshon Jeffery, signed one year deal with Philadelphia. The Bears attempted to cover this setback with Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright that arrived from Pittsburgh and Tennessee, respectively, but the new quarterback provides a massive question mark of the season to come. Prince Amukamara was added to the secondary that was actually pretty good, ranked 7th against the pass, during the last season.


When reviewing fantasy projections, it is a wise move to stay away from the Bears QBs - whoever it might be at the end. Jordan Howard was a top 3 RB in total yards a year ago. Accuscore’s prediction doesn’t back up similar performance this year. He would be a top 20 running back, but not top 3. For WRs, we need to dig a lot deeper in order to find first Bears’ receiver. This means that there are no value to draft any Chicago WRs for your fantasy team. It’s tough to find certain value on a team that is clearly rebuilding.

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