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The Packers have won the NFC North title five out of the last six years, and are early favorites to repeat this season.  Newly acquired tight end Martellus Bennett bolsters an already lethal Packers passing attack.  The Vikings and Lions look to chase them down with new additions of their own, while the Bears try to sort out a quarterback controversy in the Windy City.


Packers

Aaron Rodgers did not incorporate the tight end much last season, but the Packers will likely find a way to get the ball to new acquisition Martellus Bennett.  Richard Rodgers (TE) was targeted just 3.1 times per game (47/15), lowest of 30 Qualified TEs, and Jared Cook (TE) received just four more targets (51) than Rodgers last season, while struggling to convert those targets into catches.  Cook caught just 58.8% of his targets (30/51), ranking him fifth worst among qualified TEs.

Martellus Bennett (TE) caught 55 of 73 passes when targeted (75.3%) last season (NFL Rank: 2nd among TEs; League Avg: 66.4%)

Aaron Rodgers (QB) had a passer rating of 116.2 on 3rd down (153 Pass Attempts) last season (NFL Rank: 2nd of 29 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 85.8)

Aaron Rodgers (QB) threw for first downs on 51.0% of his pass attempts on 3rd down last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 29 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 40.4%)

Aaron Rodgers (QB) threw 12 TDs on just 135 pass attempts (one TD every 11.3 Pass Attempts) in the 4th quarter last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 29 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 22.3)

Randall Cobb (WR) broke 9 tackles last season (NFL Rank: 3rd among WRs)

Randall Cobb (WR) averaged 28.0 Receiving Yards per game (280/10) on 3rd down last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 38 Qualified WRs; League Avg: 14.7)

Davante Adams (WR) was targeted 23 times on plays in the red zone last season (NFL Rank: 2nd among WRs)

Jordy Nelson (WR) had 21 receptions on plays in the red zone last season (NFL Rank: 1st among WRs)

Jordy Nelson (WR) caught 14 touchdown receptions last season (NFL Rank: 1st among WRs)

The Packers defense forced just one fumble on 366 carries last season (NFL Rank: 32nd of 32; League Avg: 1:61.1)

 

Vikings

The Vikings are moving on from veteran running back Adrian Peterson.  Rookie Dalvin Cook and free agent acquisition Latavius Murray look to improve upon a rushing attack that only averaged 3.2 yards per carry last season (worst in NFL; League Avg: 4.2).

Minnesota Vikings RBs averaged 3.9 Yards from Scrimmage Per Touch (1,632 yards / 417 touches) last season (NFL Rank: worst of 32; League Avg: 4.8)

Latavius Murray (RB) picked up 96 yards after contact on plays in the red zone last season (NFL Rank: best among RBs)

Latavius Murray (RB) rushed for 12 TDs on 195 carries (16.2 Carries Per TD)  last season (NFL Rank: 2nd best of 36 Qualified RBs; League Avg: 32.2)

Sam Bradford (QB) had a passer rating of 84.3 when pressured (103 Pass Attempts) last season (NFL Rank: 4th of 28 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 57.3)

Sam Bradford (QB) threw 80 catchable balls on 98 pass attempts (81.6%) in close and late situations last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 35 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 68.8%)

Stefon Diggs (WR) caught 84 of 112 passes (75.0% Reception Pct) last season (NFL Rank: 4th of 51 Qualified WRs; League Avg: 59.9%)

Kyle Rudolph (TE) was targeted 132 times last season (NFL Rank: 1st among TEs)

Vikings Punter, Jeff Locke, placed 54.5% of punts inside the 20 (6/11) in close and late situations last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 32; League Avg: 34.2%)

The Vikings defense tallied 8 interceptions and allowed just 2 TD passes (0.25 TD:INT) on 3rd and long last season (NFL Rank: T-1st of 32; League Avg: 1.0)


Lions

The Lions signed Matthew Stafford to the largest contract in NFL history yesterday.  Last season, Stafford was able to win the close game (7 of the team’s 9 victories were by a margin of one touchdown or less), despite being sacked 12 times in close and late situations (most in NFL).  

Theo Riddick (RB) and Golden Tate (WR) aided Stafford in the clutch last season.  Riddick led the league with 20 receptions in close and late situations, while Tate gained 131 yards after catch in close and late situations, good for fifth in the league among WRs.

Matthew Stafford (QB) committed just 1 turnover on 159 plays (0.6% turnover percentage) against the blitz last season (NFL Rank: 2nd of 29 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 2.6%)

Matthew Stafford (QB) threw one interception on 153 attempts against the blitz last season (NFL Rank: 3rd among QBs)

Matthew Stafford (QB) averaged 283.9 Passing Yards per game (2,271/8) on the road last season (NFL Rank: 5th of 32 Qualified QBs; League Avg: 212.0)

Theo Riddick (RB) picked up 54 yards after contact on 3rd and long last season (NFL Rank: 1st among RBs)

Eric Ebron (TE) averaged 61.9 Receiving Yards per game (495/8) on the road last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 30 Qualified TEs; League Avg: 23.6)

Marvin Jones (WR) averaged 16.9 Yards per Reception (930 yards/55 catches) on 103 targets last season (NFL Rank: 3rd of 51 Qualified WRs; League Avg: 12.8)

The Lions defense allowed opponents to catch 40 of 47 passes (85.1% Reception Pct) on slant routes last season (NFL Rank: 32nd of 32; League Avg: 66.8%)

The Lions defense allowed a passer rating of 104.9 on 3rd down (142 Pass Attempts) last season (NFL Rank: 31st of 32; League Avg: 86.1)

 

Bears

The Bears cleaned house after last season, parting ways with all three of their quarterbacks.  In the offseason, they signed Mike Glennon and traded up to draft Mitchell Trubisky out of North Carolina.  They also signed Mark Sanchez as a veteran backup.  Unfortunately for the new trio, the Bears lost WRs Alshon Jeffery to free agency and Cameron Meredith for the season after tearing his ACL in Sunday’s preseason game against the Titans.

The Bears will need to find a way to replace Cameron Meredith (WR), who averaged 9.2 Yards per Target (888 yards/97 targets) last season (NFL Rank: 8th of 51 Qualified WRs; League Avg: 7.7)

The Chicago Bears offense scored just 16.0 points per game (256 points / 16 games) last season (NFL Rank: 2nd worst of 32; League Avg: 21.6)

Jordan Howard (RB) averaged 7.0 Yards per Carry (479 yards/68 carries) on plays out of the shotgun last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 40 Qualified RBs; League Avg: 4.6)

Jordan Howard (RB) averaged 6.6 All Purpose Yards per Touch (721 APY / 110 Touches) on the road last season (NFL Rank: 1st of 32 Qualified RBs; League Avg: 5.2)

The Bears defense blitzed on just 8.5% of plays last season (NFL Rank: 32nd of 32; League Avg: 15.5%)

The Bears defense averaged a turnover percentage of just 1.3% (13 / 975) last season (NFL Rank: 2nd worst of 32; League Avg: 2.2%)

The Bears defense hit opposing QBs on 3% of dropbacks at home last season (NFL Rank: worst of 32; League Avg: 0.06)

B.W. Webb (CB) allowed receptions to receivers he was covering on just 18 of 38 targets (47.4%) in the 2nd half last season (NFL Rank: 5th best of 53 Qualified DBs; League Avg: 60.4%)

Zach Miller (TE) caught 27 of 36 passes when targeted (75.0% Reception Pct) on the road last season (NFL Rank: 3rd best of 30 Qualified TEs; League Avg: 64.1%)

 

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