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NFC North Rundown, Pre-Week 1 Edition: Setting expectations for Packers’ rivals

Can one of the other three NFC North teams surprise and overtake the Packers for a division title?

Denver Broncos v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers head into 2022 as the prohibitive favorite to win the NFC North division title. Coming off the heels of three straight division championships and three straight 13-win seasons, the Packers are certainly the team to bet and have the weight of hefty expectations on their shoulders.

Still, there are three other teams in the division, all looking to spoil the Packers’ party this fall. While the Minnesota Vikings appear to be Green Bay’s closest competition, the Detroit Lions appear to be on the upswing and the Chicago Bears still form the other half of the NFL’s longest rivalry.

The first NFL Sunday of the 2022 season is just days away, and fans of NFC North teams will be treated to a top divisional matchup as the Vikings host the Packers. Before we get there, however, let’s get a look at where each team projects heading into the regular season:

2022 NFC win-total projections: Packers, Buccaneers, Rams continue reign; Eagles take East |
The mathematical models put the Packers in the driver's seat in the NFC once again, with their 11.3 expected wins topping the conference. Minnesota is projected as the last Wild Card team, however, with the 7th-highest expected win total in the conference.

Now let’s take a spin around our fellow SB Nation blogs to look at how things stack up for each of the Packers’ divisional rivals and roam around the rest of the NFL’s media coverage to find some newsworthy bits for each of these three teams..

Minnesota Vikings

Week 1: vs. Packers

Minnesota Vikings 2022 NFL season preview: How it’s going - Daily Norseman
A new head coach from the Sean McVay tree takes over to revamp the offense, while a pair of former Packers defensive coordinators will transition the defense over to more of a 3-4 base. But can the Vikings really contend with the Packers for the NFC North crown? We'll get some idea of that on Sunday afternoon.

Vikings’ Mike Zimmer created a “toxic” culture, report alleges |
It sounds like culture was a primary reason for the Vikings' split with their former head coach, who had a 72-56-1 record over eight years in Minnesota.

Chicago Bears

Week 1: vs. 49ers

Chicago Bears 2022 NFL season preview: How it’s going - Windy City Gridiron
Chicago also has a new brain trust, with a new GM and head coach. However, this offense might be putrid around Justin Fields, especially if Chicago's offensive line is as ugly as it appears on paper.

Bears looking at two different offensive line combinations | Bears Wire
Speaking of that line, former Packer Lucas Patrick finally practiced on Monday after breaking his thumb in the second practice of training camp. He might not be ready for week one, but a return would at least help solidify the interior a bit.

Detroit Lions

Week 1: vs. Eagles

Detroit Lions 2022 NFL season preview: How it’s going - Pride Of Detroit
Year two of the Dan Campbell era got a very public start with the Lions being on Hard Knocks, and this offense could take a nice step forward. #2 overall pick Aidan Hutchinson will help the defensive front, but can the rest of that unit take a step forward? In any case, the arrow seems to be pointing up in Detroit right now.

Detroit Lions place Halapoulivaati Vaitai on reserve/injured list | The Detroit News
The Lions are dealing with some injury issues of their own on the offensive line, having recently placed their starting right guard on IR with an undisclosed injury. That likely elevates second-year pro Tommy Kraemer, who started three games last season as a rookie, into the starting lineup.