NFL 2014 Crystal Schnoz Predictions – NFC North

3 notes before we get to the predictions:

1. NFL predictions are so hard to nail because of injuries, parity, and random bounces of the ball. That’s why this is so fun.

2. FO = Football Outsiders. I reference them and their phenomenal stats a lot. Their almanac is fantastic, go buy it.

3. Share your predictions in the comments so we can come back in January and marvel at how much smarter I am than you.


#1 – Green Bay Packers

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) Would you be surprised to know that this was the 2nd worst defense in the league in 2013? Well, it was, per FO.

2) Would you be surprised to know that this was the 3rd best rushing offense in the league in 2013? Well, it was, per FO.

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) Aaron Rodgers spent the offseason researching insurance companies and it turns out he really hates State Farm’s offerings. “More like Discount Double Fart Noise,” Rodgers was overheard muttering under his breath.

2) Head Coach Mike McCarthy always tries to push out at least one fart during the national anthem.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: a surprise gift

Celebrity Fans: Lil Wayne, Erin Andrews, Larry the Cable Guy

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: Brett Favre continues making Wrangler Jeans commercials well into his nineties.

Schnoz Prediction: 11-5

Why:  Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL, and so long as he stays healthy (not a given), the Packers will host a playoff game. The questions on defense are still there, but the addition of Julius Peppers as a complimentary edge rusher for Clay Matthews really does raise the ceiling of what this pass rush can do. Losing BJ Raji last week hurts, but rookie Mike Pennel will hopefully mitigate the damage as he steps into the starting role. Like the rest of their division, the schedule isn’t easy, but the talent and experience surrounding Rodgers is as good as it’s been since their 15-1 season in 2011. Cheeseheads rejoice, your team continues to set the standard in the North.

#2 – Chicago Bears

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) The Bears were the worst rushing defense in 2013, which isn’t very Bears-like.

2) Chicago’s schedule is middle-of-the-pack in terms of projected toughness, but it is the easiest of the four teams in this division

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) RB Matt Forte’s biggest pet peeve is when someone takes the nail clippers out of this bathroom drawer at home and doesn’t put them back. Then he’s got to search all over creation to find the freaking nail clippers. He’s thinking about buying eleven nail clippers, one for every room in the house, so no one ever has to walk off with his again.

2) Head Coach Marc Trestman has never kissed a girl.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: caesar salad

Celebrity Fans: Ashton Kutcher, Barack Obama, Bill Murray

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: Mike Ditka starts taking nude selfies.

Schnoz Prediction: 10-6

Why:  No one doubts the potential of this offense to put points on the board, and they will once again as they settle into their second season with guru Marc Trestman at the helm. Whether Cutler is elite enough to win back to back playoff games is another question, but we’ll save that query for January. Their run defense has to be better than last year, and they will be. Adding Jared Allen, Jeremiah Ratliff, and Lamarr Houston will ensure that (as will avoiding Shady McCoy on the schedule). The Bears are clearly looking up at a handful of better teams in the NFC, but this year they’ve got a shot at making a case as to why they belong in the discussion.

#3 – Detroit Lions

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) There’s a new sheriff in town! Jim Caldwell took the car keys from Jim Schwartz, but hopefully not in such an aggressive way that Jim ran after him to confront him. The O.C. is new too; Joe Lombardi (former QB coach in New Orleans) is now in charge of the Stafford Sidearms.

2) They’ve got the toughest schedule in this division, the best receiver in football, and probably the worst secondary in the league.

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) LG Rob Sims thinks Ronald Reagan was a democrat.

2) Last week, new Lions’ wide receiver Golden Tate buried his Seattle Super Bowl Ring at Lambeau Field in the end zone where he caught the infamous Fail Mary in 2012. He plans on digging it up and putting it on his finger as part of a touchdown celebration when the Lions visit the Packers in Week 17. Joe Buck will think it’s a disgusting act.

(UPDATE: The Fail Mary happened in Seattle, and thus, my mediocre joke doesn’t make any sense. Let me distract you from this error with my favorite screenshot from that debacle.)

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: a 9-volt battery

Celebrity Fans: Tim Allen and Eminem

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: The Lions continue to play on Thanksgiving every year.

Schnoz Prediction: 8-8

Why:  Would you believe the Lions defense ranked higher than their offense last year per FO (19th vs. 14th)? Neither unit was remarkable, and it wouldn’t shock us if those numbers flipped this year with the offense slightly improving and the defense regressing. We’re not sure if Jim Caldwell is the guy to right the ship in Detroit, but it certainly wasn’t going to be Jim Schwartz. We find Lombardi to be the more intriguing hire. If he can work some Drew Brees’ type magic out of Matt Stafford, this offense could put up prolific numbers. It’s tough to shake the loser label, but Caldwell and new WR Golden Tate have recently won rings; perhaps they can help change the mindset of this team? Check back in after Thanksgiving dinner to find out.

#4 – Minnesota Vikings

2 Things You Might Already Know

1) This is the first of two seasons that the Vikings will be playing outdoors at the University of Minnesota while their new stadium is being built.

2) New Coaching Regime Alert! Mike Zimmer (Head Coach), Norv Turner (O.C.) and George Edwards (who?) are running things in Minny.

2 Things You Didn’t Already Know

1) Adrian Peterson sleeps on a treadmill.

2) Cornerback Captain Munnerlyn wishes his first name was Jerry.

Random Object That Reminds Us Of This Team Without Any Context or Explanation: a sapling

Celebrity Fans: Prince and other people who are not Prince

Best Case Scenario: 16-0

Worst Case Scenario: Time travel is invented and actual Vikings from the 9th century show up and are horrified at the state of the one football franchise named after them and they kill everyone.

Schnoz Prediction: 7-9

Why:  We’ve got our eye on this team for 2015 and beyond. Norv Turner (the OC, not the Head Coach) has been known to make magic happen on offense, and we think he has the right guy to eventually run things in Teddy Bridgewater (along with solid weapons in AP, C. Patterson, and Kyle Rudolph). Mike Zimmer has a similar reputation on the defensive side of the ball, and a promising rookie linebacker in Anthony Barr to anchor this defense for years to come. Another rebuilding year in Minnesota? Probably. But at least Vikings fans have the right people drafting the blueprints and a solid foundation to build on. Don’t burn the ships yet, Norsemen, the future is looking up.

Alright everyone, chime in with your thoughts on the NFC North.

What do you agree with and where am I dead wrong?


AFC: East | North | South | West

NFC: East | North | South | West | The Playoffs