Will Ryan Poles Use the Next Month to Attack a Vulnerable NFC North?

| April 3rd, 2023

Last year, it made sense. Maybe even more than making sense, it was the prudent decision. Ryan Poles took over the Chicago Bears in 2022, traded Khalil Mack, and signed for the status of worst team in the division. He understood how far the roster he inherited was from competing with the league’s best, and more importantly, he acknowledged how long it might take to achieve that all-important status.

He also understood the three other teams in the NFC North believed they were capable of playing postseason football last season. The Packers sold out to a quarterback they no longer wanted. The Vikings had an expensive, if overrated, roster. The Lions, fresh off a starring turn on Home Box Office, were the preseason media darling. He couldn’t come right out and say, “We’re going to let them run their race and do our own thing,” but that’s exactly what was communicated inside the Halls of Halas. The Bears needed to lose in 2022. And lose a lot. Hang the banner. Mission accomplished.

A year later, circumstances are quite different.

The Packers won’t have Rodgers anymore. Or at least, we don’t think they will. That makes them a complete mystery. The Vikings were the softest 13-win team in league history; fully exposed in January when they decided to lay down at home and make Daniel Jones exceedingly rich. (Has Jones sent a thank you note to Ed Donatell yet? If he does, he should put ten grand in the envelope.) And the Lions…well, they’re the Lions. That city and those fans deserve a winner but until we see it on the field, how can we be confident the team will deliver them such a thing?

The NFC North can be won by ANY of its four teams and the odds reflect that. The Lions are +140. Vikings are +250. Bears +350. Packers +500. That’s Vegas throwing up a big old shrug emoji and saying, “Check back in with us October 1st.”

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