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NFC NORTH: Biggest offseason changes for all four teams

It has been an offseason of change in the NFC North.

For the first time in three decades the division title goes through Detroit as the reigning division champions with arguably one of the top rosters in the NFC. Can Jordan Love and a young Packers team take the next step and challenge the Lions for the NFC North title?

Will new quarterbacks in Minnesota and Chicago be able to propel them into the division and playoff picture?

Let's take a look at some of the biggest changes heading into 2024 for each team in the NFC North.

View photos from Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown's trip to Germany including a youth football camp, neighborhood tour and more.


2023 record: 12-5 (won division)

Biggest change from 2023: Revamped secondary

Lions general manager Brad Holmes knew he had to retool Detroit's pass defense if the team was going to take the next step in 2024. Detroit ranked 27th in pass defense last season and allowed the most 20-plus-yard completions in the league (69).

He traded for a physical, veteran cornerback in Carlton Davis III, signed veteran Amik Robertson in free agency, re-signed veterans Emmanuel Moseley and Kindle Vildor, and drafted the top two cornerbacks on Detroit's draft board – Terrion Arnold and Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Holmes also added some talent upfront along the defensive line with veterans DJ Reader and Marcus Davenport, who should provide a boost to the pass rush. Holmes and the Lions are hoping it translates to more consistent pass defense.

Twentyman: For the first time in defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn's tenure he appears to have the personnel to run his aggressive, press-man scheme to its fullest potential. There's also depth and versatility on defense to run just about anything he wants to throw at opposing offenses.

It's no secret the Lions' defense has to be better for the franchise to challenge for its first Super Bowl appearance. A top five offense returns mostly intact and that is expected to be a strength of this team. If the defense can improve the Lions should be one of the most dangerous teams in the NFC.


2023 record: 9-8

Biggest change from 2023: New-look backfield

The biggest change in Green Bay this offseason came at the running back position as Aaron Jones left for Minnesota and former Las Vegas Raiders Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs was brought in to add some bite to the Packers' rushing attack.

Jacobs is coming off the least productive season of his career rushing for 805 yards and six touchdowns in 13 games last season, but he's just one year removed from leading the NFL in rushing in 2022 with 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns. He's still only 26-years-old, and if he returns to 2022 form with the young trio of talented receivers the Packers employ along with quarterback Jordan Love, Green Bay could be very dangerous offensively in 2024.

Twentyman: The Packers lost four of their top seven tacklers from last season but they have some young defenders they've drafted over the years who appear to be ready to pick up the slack. Defensive end Preston Smith is the only defensive player on the Green Bay roster older than 30.

For me, the Packers' chances to be players in the NFC will rest on Love taking the next step in his development. He was good in his first year as a full-time starter and if he's even better in 2024, the Packers will be the No. 1 threat to the Lions in the NFC North.

View photos of Detroit Lions second-round pick Ennis Rakestraw Jr. from the 2024 offseason.


2023 record: 7-10

Biggest change from 2023: New quarterback room

Longtime Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins signed with Atlanta in free agency and that means the Vikings will have a new starting quarterback to begin a season for the first time since 2017. Who will it be - the veteran Sam Darnold or first-round pick J.J. McCarthy? Either way, it will be something different the Lions have to prepare for.

Whoever is throwing the football will have a nice quartet of skill position weapons to throw to in Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and Jones.

Twentyman: Defensively, there are some new faces as the Vikings were aggressive in free agency adding speed, talent, and depth to the unit. NFC North opponents usually know each other front and back but there will be plenty of new faces Lions coaches will have to familiarize themselves with before the Week 7 matchup with the Vikings.

View photos of Detroit Lions first-round pick Terrion Arnold from the 2024 offseason.


2023 record: 7-10

Biggest change from 2023: Offensive upgrades

No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams is expected to start for Chicago Week 1. Will he have the kind of up-and-down season most rookie quarterbacks have? Or will he burst onto the scene like C.J. Stroud did last year as the No. 2 overall pick, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors and leading the Texans to a playoff win. The answer to that question will have a big influence on how serious the Bears are as contenders in the division.

Williams will have a dangerous trio of receivers to throw to in DJ Moore, Keenan Allen and Rome Odunze. That has the potential to be one of the best receiving trios in the league.

Twentyman: Williams' play will be the No. 1 factor in the Bears' division and playoff hopes in 2024. Chicago expects to have a defense that ranks in the top half of the league, and that could keep them in a lot of close games as Williams navigates the early part of the season and gets his feet under him adjusting to the NFL.

The Bears had the No. 1 rushing defense in the league last year. They addressed some needs in the passing game on defense and that should be a formidable unit overall if they stay healthy.

If the Vikings and Bears get good quarterback play, the NFC North is shaping up to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL this upcoming season.

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