Will the NFC North breakthrough?

In his postseason career, Tom Brady has competed against every NFL Division except one: the NFC North. Of course, for Brady to play an NFC team in the playoffs, the setting has to be the Super Bowl. But none of the four teams in this particular division has never met Brady on football’s biggest stage. The division has only reached two Super Bowls during Brady’s career:

Super Bowl 41: CHICAGO BEARS – 17, Indianapolis Colts – 21

Super Bowl 45: GREEN BAY PACKERS – 31, Pittsburgh Steelers – 25

 

Coincidentally, the last two times the NFC North made the Super Bowl ended up being one year before TB12’a return to the big game — Super Bowl losses to NYG in 42 and 46, games that Patriots fans usually block out. (Sorry for revisiting those games)

Tom Brady Super Bowl stats:

NFC West: (2-0) SB XXXVI vs. Rams (20-17), SB XLIX vs. Seahawks (28-24)

NFC East: (1-2) SB XXXIX vs. Eagles (24-21), SB XLII vs. Giants (14-17), SB XLVI vs. Giants (17-21)

NFC South: (2-0) SB XXXVIII vs. Panthers (32-29), SB LI vs. Falcons (34-28 OT)

Overall: 5-2

FUNNY HOW THAT WORKS OUT

The Bears and Packers are the two NFC North teams to reach the Super Bowl during Brady’s tenure. Before Tom Brady’s arrival to New England, the Patriots played in just two Super Bowls (both losses) in their franchise history. Against, of course, the Bears and the Packers:

Super Bowl XX (1986): Chicago Bears – 46, New England Patriots – 10

Super Bowl XXXI (1997): Green Bay Packers – 35, New England Patriots – 21

RODGERS vs. BRADY

Aaron Rodgers can scramble, throw it a mile, and squeeze the ball into any hole. Brady is more of a pocket presence, and has the accolades. The debate between who is better of the two has been going on since Rodgers got his first title in 2011 (SB 45). By now I have expected the two to square off in the Super Bowl, but Rodgers hasn’t been back in six years, while Brady has been to three since then.

Barring any major injuries, New England is expected to be at US Bank stadium in Minneapolis for Super Bowl 52. The question is, will Rodgers join him?

GREEN BAY DOMINANCE

Now I know I mentioned the entire NFC North, but the Packers have had a strangle hold on that division since 2011, and I don’t expect them to be unseated from the throne this year.

NFC North Champions (Since 2011- After Rodgers first Super Bowl)

2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
GREEN BAY PACKERS GREEN BAY PACKERS GREEN BAY PACKERS GREEN BAY PACKERS MINNESOTA VIKINGS
2016
GREEN BAY PACKERS

http://www.nationalchamps.net/Helmet_Project/ch_nfcc.htm

Also in 2010, when the Bears won the division, Green Bay won the Super Bowl as a number six seed. The year Minnesota won the division in 2015, Green Bay still reached the playoffs. As long as Aaron Rodgers is leading their team, as far as I am concerned the division is theirs. And for Aaron Rodgers, he usually just needs a spot in the playoffs.

SUPER BOWL 52 ODDS:

According to the Las Vegas Westgate Superbook, these are the odds for the teams with legitimate chances to win Super Bowl 52:

Patriots 5:2
Cowboys 8:1
Seahawks 10:1
Raiders 10:1
Steelers 12:1
Packers 12:1
Falcons 12:1

These are the top seven teams that I actually feel have a chance to reach Super Bowl 52, sorry Oakland and Pittsburgh, but you will have to go through Foxborough, good luck.

I think the NFC is completely up for grabs. Green Bay needs to play an NFC title game at Lambeau field to advance to Super Bowl LII, I know Rodgers won it all as a 6-seed, but he has lost his last two NFC title games on the road:

2015 OT loss to Seattle (Super Bowl 49 season) , 2016 loss to Atlanta (Super Bowl 51 season)

Coincidentally, again, the two teams that beat Rodgers in those NFC title games, went on to play the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, AND LOSE!

THE OTHER GUYS

Since I did mention the division, I should include how the other three teams are expected to do this season, according to SI.com:

Green Bay

2016 Record: 10-6

2016 Result: Lost in NFC Championship

2017 Projected: 13-3

Detroit Lions

2016 Record: 9-7

2016 Result: Lost in NFC Wild Card

2017 Projected: 9-7

Minnesota Vikings

2016 Record: 8-8

2016 Result: Did not make postseason

2017 Projected: 8-8

Chicago Bears 

2016 Record: 3-13

No, they did not make the playoffs

2017 Projected: 2-14 (Pray for the Bears)

https://www.si.com/nfl/2017/05/10/nfl-2017-projected-team-records

ROUND UP

With a healthy Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, Green Bay should pick up from their 8 consecutive wins last year before the NFC title game loss to Atlanta. The addition of Martellus Bennett give them a very serviceable tight end in the run and pass game. Making the postseason was a big step for Detroit after losing Calvin Johnson, but winning the division will be another tall task if Matthew Stafford performs inconsistently again. The Vikings lose Adrian Peterson, and will most likely turn to Sam Bradford to lead them. After a 5-0 start last year, the Vikings went 3-8 after their bye week. The Chicago Bears are still at the bottom, and looking for a long rebuild with Mitch Trubisky under center.

Somehow Tom Brady keeps getting better, and the Patriots are putting pieces around him to keep their team playing at a high level until Brady decides to hang up his cleats, which honestly does not seem like anytime soon. We know they will make the AFC Championship in late January for the 7th straight year. Confidence is real high in New England. It seems like every year the Packers and Patriots are projected to play in the Super Bowl. This could be the year, but with a wide open NFC, anything is possible.

 

 

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