The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 30, 2013

2013 NFC North Division Preview

2013 N F C North Preview

The Old Black and Blue Division, it isn’t.  What once was a quartet known for punishing power running to set up play-action and long passes on offense going up against punishing defenders like Alan Page, Dick Butkus, Ray Nitschke, and Alex Karras, has become the air it out division.  Well, at least three of the teams in the division believe in pass first, pass second, pass, pass, pass.  When you have Adrian Peterson in your backfield, you run the ball about half the time.

 

Last year, the Detroit Lions scored 372 points; that was the worst offensive production in the division.  The Lions won only four games scoring 372 or 23.3 points per game.  In 1991, the year the Lions advanced to the NFC Championship Game, they only scored 339 points.  They averaged more than two points less per game when they last won the NFL Championship in 1958.

 

A return to the old plodding northern football of yesteryear is not on the horizon.  Expect the North to produce a lot of offense and average defense.  One team is liable to score more than 425 points, and that team should win the division.  However, it would not surprise us if all four teams were still alive in the division race after Thanksgiving.  This could be a season where after 12 games, there is one 7-5 team, two 6-6 teams, and one 5-7 team.

 

Green Bay is the obvious choice to repeat as division titlist.  The Packers have topped 400 points scored five out of the last six years, and they have made the playoffs in four of those five seasons.  The Packers have filled a cavity in recent years by drafting Eddie Lacy from Alabama.  Lacy should carry the ball about 15 times a game this year, and we expect him to take some of the heat off the passing game.  Look for Lacy to threaten the 1,000 yard mark, but if he averages four yards per attempt, he will do his job.

 

Aaron Rodgers is the best passer in the game in 2013.  As long as he stays healthy, the Packers will move the ball and score points on any defense.  He has one less familiar receiver in the lineup, as the team let Greg Jennings go, but this could be an addition by subtraction this season.  Wideouts Randall Cobb, James Jones, and Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley make up the top receiving corps in the NFC (not too far behind the group in Denver).  Add a very talented offensive line, and it is hard to see any team, and only inclement weather, holding a healthy Packers’ team under 21 points in a game.

 

Chicago and Minnesota both finished one game behind the Packers last year, with the Vikings earning a wildcard berth.  Both teams have a lot of talent on hand, but we see some liabilities in both that we believe will keep them behind Green Bay.

 

Chicago is talented enough at the skill positions to win 12 or 13 games, but the Bears’ offensive line has been more like a 12-game loser.  This year, the blocking corps figures to take a decided leap forward thanks to some help in the draft class, but we believe the team still needs at least one more new lineman before Jay Cutler can relax in the pocket.  Additionally, new head coach Mark Trestman brings an entirely new offensive philosophy, and we expect some transitioning early in the season, possibly costing the Bears a game or two.  Give Trestman time, and he will turn the Bears into the Raiders of 2002, where he directed the offense.  Trestman won multiple Grey Cups with Montreal in the CFL, much like Bud Grant once did before guiding Minnesota to four Super Bowls.

 

Speaking of the Vikings, if Christian Ponder can advance this year as much as he did last year, the purple and white might challenge for a second consecutive playoff spot.  However, we cannot see Peterson running for anything close to the 2,097 yards he gained last year.  He might pick up just 1,500 this year, and we don’t see that extra 600 yards being picked up by the passing game.  Thus, we believe the Vikings will fall back this season and possibly have to fight to avoid the cellar.

 

Detroit started the year 4-4 and then lost its final eight games last year.  This team is scary on the offensive side, but the defense scares only people rooting for the team.  We expect some improvement on the stop side, and the offense could be even better this year.  Matthew Stafford could easily top 5,000 passing yards this year, as he barely missed that mark last year.  He still has Calvin Johnson, who almost topped 2,000 receiving yards last year.  Now, he has one of the best pass-catching running backs in Reggie Bush.  Bush could top 800 yards on the ground and catch 50 passes for another 400 yards, and if so, the 2013 Lions could be as potent as the 2009 Saints.  Still, it might take 400-430 points just to break even on the won-loss ledger.

 

We have added a new wrinkle to our coverage this year.  In the past, friends of ours have asked us if we knew how to recreate the exact colors of their favorite team so that they could print those colors on their computer.  We have found this information from multiple sites in the last couple of months, and we are going to show you the RGB numbers so you can replicate those colors.  These can be used in graphics programs, but it can easily be used in MS-Word and MS-Excel.

 

Here are the official colors for the AFC North.

North

Color

Red

Green

Blue

Chicago Bears

Navy

3

30

47

 

Orange

221

72

20

 

White

255

255

255

Detroit Lions

Honolulu Blue

42

110

187

 

Metallic Silver

133

136

139

 

White

255

255

255

Green Bay Packers

Dark Green

44

94

79

 

Gold

255

182

18

 

White

255

255

255

Minnesota Vikings

Purple

75

48

106

 

Gold

255

182

18

 

White

255

255

255

 

 

2012 Final Standings & PiRate Ratings

NFC North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

W-L-T

Pts

Opp

Green Bay Packers

106.5

106.5

106.5

11-5-0

433

336

Chicago Bears

104.7

103.2

102.2

10-6-0

375

277

Minnesota Vikings

101.6

102.2

102.6

10-6-0

379

348

Detroit Lions

96.1

95.1

94.3

4-12-0

372

437

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013 Preseason PiRate Ratings

North

PiRate

Mean

Biased

Green Bay Packers

106.1

104.9

105.7

Chicago Bears

101.5

102.1

101.6

Minnesota Vikings

99.5

99.9

98.3

Detroit Lions

98.4

98.9

98.5

 

PiRate Previews

Team

Chicago Bears

               
Head Coach

Mark Trestman

O-Coord.

Aaron Kromer

D-Coord.

Mel Tucker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Jay Cutler

Running Back

Matt Forte

Fullback

Tony Fiammetta

Wide Receiver

Brandon Marshall

Wide Receiver

Alshon Jeffery

Tight End

Martellus Bennett

Left Tackle

Jermon Bushrod

Left Guard

Matt Slauson

Center

Roberto Garza

Right Guard

Kyle Long

Right Tackle

J’Marcus Webb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Corey Wootten

Left Tackle

Henry Melton

Nose Tackle

Stephen Paea

Right End

Julius Peppers

Sam LB

James Anderson

Mike LB

D. J. Williams

Will LB

Lance Briggs

Left CB

Tim Jennings

Right CB

Charles Tillman

Strong Safety

Major Wright

Free Safety

Chris Conte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Robbie Gould

Punter

Adam Podlesh

K-Return

Devin Hester

P-Return

Devin Hester

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

9-7

Division

2nd

 

Team

Detroit Lions

               
Head Coach

Jim Schwartz

O-Coord.

Scott Linehan

D-Coord.

Gunther Cunningham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Matthew Stafford

Running Back

Reggie Bush

Wide Receiver

Calvin Johnson

Wide Receiver

Nate Burleson

Tight End

Brandon Pettigrew

Tight End

Tony Scheffler

Left Tackle

Riley Reiff

Left Guard

Rob Sims

Center

Dominic Raiola

Right Guard

Dylan Gandy

Right Tackle

Jason Fox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Jason Jones

Left Tackle

Nick Fairley

Right Tackle

Ndamukong Suh

Right End

Ziggy Ansah

Sam LB

Ashlee Palmer

Mike LB

Stephen Tulloch

Will LB

DeAndre Levy

Left CB

Chris Houston

Right CB

Ronald Bartell

Strong Safety

Glover Quin

Free Safety

Louis Delmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

David Akers

Punter

Sam Martin

K-Return

Micheal Spurlock

P-Return

Micheal Spurlock

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

6-10

Division

4th

 

Team

Green Bay Packers

               
Head Coach

Mike McCarthy

O-Coord.

Tom Clements

D-Coord.

Dom Capers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Aaron Rodgers

Running Back

Alex Green/Eddie Lacy

Fullback

John Kuhn

Wide Receiver

Jordy Nelson

Wide Receiver

Randall Cobb

Tight End

Jermichael Finley

Left Tackle

David Bakhtari

Left Guard

Josh Sitton

Center

Evan Dietrich-Smith

Right Guard

T. J. Lang

Right Tackle

Marshall Newhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Datone Jones

Nose Tackle

Ryan Pickett

Right End

B. J. Raji

Left OLB

Nick Perry

Left ILB

A. J. Hawk

Right ILB

Brad Jones

Right OLB

Clay Matthews

Left CB

Tramon Williams

Right CB

Sam Shields

Strong Safety

M. D. Jennings

Free Safety

Morgan Burnett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Mason Crosby

Punter

Tim Masthay

K-Return

Randall Cobb

P-Return

Randall Cobb

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

11-5

Division

1st

 

Team

Minnesota Vikings

               
Head Coach

Leslie Frazier

O-Coord.

Bill Musgrave

D-Coord.

Alan Williams

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Projected Starting Lineup

Position

Player

 

Offense

Quarterback

Christian Ponder

Running Back

Adrian Peterson

Fullback

Jerome Felton

Wide Receiver

Greg Jennings

Wide Receiver

Jerome Simpson

Tight End

Kyle Rudolph

Left Tackle

Matt Kalil

Left Guard

Charlie Johnson

Center

John Sullivan

Right Guard

Brandon Fusco

Right Tackle

Phil Loadholt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Defense

Left End

Brian Robison

Nose Tackle

Letroy Guion

Right Tackle

Kevin Williams

Right End

Jared Allen

Sam LB

Chad Greenway

Mike LB

Erin Henderson

Will LB

Marvin Mitchell

Left CB

Josh Robinson

Right CB

Chris Cook

Strong Safety

Jamarca Sanford

Free Safety

Harrison Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Special Teams

Kicker

Blair Walsh

Punter

Jeff Locke

K-Return

Cordarrelle Patterson

P-Return

Marcus Sherels

 

 

Predictions

 

Record

8-8

Division

3rd

 

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