NFC North contenders
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have been one of the more consistent teams in the NFC this season, with both offensive and defensive Pro Football Focus grades coming in around the 70’s (70.4 and 75.7, good for 17th and 11th, respectively).
Football Outsiders’ numbers suggest those grades are accurate, with the Packers offensive DVOA sitting at 0.5 percent (16th) and their defensive DVOA at minus-9.4 percent (seventh). Their defense hadn’t given up more than 16 points through three weeks, before giving up 34 in a Thursday night loss to Philadelphia in Week 4.
Yet there is reason to expect more from the team, offensively, as if often takes units a while to acclimate to a new offensive scheme, something the Packers have in head coach Matt LaFleur. And of course, you can’t discount their quarterback, former NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, who is still one of the best in the league.
Green Bay being contenders feels one of the more real arguments in the NFC, but will, like with most teams, be based mostly on how quickly it takes Rodgers to get a full grasp of LaFleur’s offense and whether the defense can maintain its torrid pace of the first three weeks.
If both of these things happen, expect the Packers to be in the mix. If one or both fail to come to fruition, the division may prove to be too tight for them to hold onto.
So far, most of the teams here have either been really good in one area and lacking on another, or mediocre in both so far in 2019.
The Chicago Bears definitely fall into the former category.
Through four weeks, they have Football Outsiders’ third most-efficient defensive unit, with a minus-20.1 percent DVOA on that side of the ball. PFF has them ranked at No. 2 in the league, with an overall defensive grade of 81.6.
The Bears offense, however, hasn’t lived up to its end of the bargain.
Led by third-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Chicago currently holds down the 26th best (worst?) offense in the NFL, according to Football Outsiders, with a DVOA of minus-10.6 percent on offense. Its PFF grade is even worse, with the offense’s 56.9 grade pacing Chicago just ahead of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins so far in 2019.
Strangely, the squad’s best game was Week 4 against the Minnesota Vikings, where it posted a 61.7 overall grade on offense, including a 82.3 passing grade. The problem is, they did most of this without Trubisky under center.
In summary: the Bears defense is spectacular and good enough to win a Super Bowl; the Bears offense is wretched, and good enough to pick in the top five of the 2020 NFL Draft.
In spite of that, the Bears have managed a 3-1 record through the first quarter of the season and are still being named among the top contenders in the NFC.
But the fact of the matter is that if they don’t get better play from their offense, it seems unlikely they’ll be able to overcome things like a team that scores on defense against their offense or a bad day from the Bears defense.