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2016 NFL Forecast : NFC North

The official Baltimore Beatdown outlook

AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt

The NFC North is usually a competitive division, the 2016 season should bring more of the same. After the Packers wore the crown as division champions for four consecutive seasons, the Vikings broke though last season to claim the throne.

The Beatdown staff agrees in predicting a clear separation in the NFC North, with two contending teams and two also-rans. However, opinions on which team will win the division were mixed and consensus was determined by the slimmest of margins...

First Place - Green Bay Packers :

The Vikings are a tempting pick here, but Aaron Rodgers is the greatest football player on the planet, and he's getting his favorite receiver back. The defense won't be lights out, but will play just well enough for the Pack to regain the NFC North crown. - Jacob Louque

Packers return to dominance on the backs of an improved defense and the return of Jordy Nelson to a deep group. Eddie Lacy shows up in great shape and runs the ball down the throats of the opposition. - Yitzi Weiss

The combination of playmakers in the secondary, led by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, along with veteran pass rushers Peppers and Matthews gives GB a slight edge over MIN. A healthier OL is the key to their offensive and will help Lacy regain his TD production. - Vasilis Lericos

Second Place - Minnesota Vikings :

AP drops off a cliff, but the Vikings still finish in second place, albeit while missing the playoffs. The Vikings defense is the best in the division in 2016, but that is not enough to carry a weak offense. - Yitzi Weiss

The Vikings will have another nice season, and likely capture one of the two wildcard playoff spots in the NFC. Teddy Bridgewater will need to be a bit better in his third season, but the addition of Laquon Treadwell will help him do so. - Jacob Louque

HC Mike Zimmer keeps adding pieces that suit his defense. Linval Joseph, Sharrif Floyd, Everson Griffen, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Xavier Rhodes, Mackensie Alexander and Harrison Smith is a young defensive core that would make any GM blush. Unfortunately, the offensive additions of Andre Smith and Treadwell are not enough for Bridgewater to overcome his deep passing limitations now that AP is dangerously close to running into the dreaded aging RB wall. - Vasilis Lericos

Third Place - Chicago Bears:

The Bears have made it their mission over the last two offseasons to rebuild the "Monsters of the Midway" by signing Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, Akiem Hicks and Jerrell Freeman. To go along with these siginings, the team has Willie Young, Eddie Goldman, Lamarr Houston and 2016 first round pick Leonard Floyd to round out a strong defensive front. But there are issues in the secondary and creating turnovers is also a problem. The offense should get a boost with the return of 2015 first round pick Kevin White to team with Alshon Jeffery. Tight end is a question mark for Cutler, now that Martellus Bennet has been traded to NE. Jeremy Langford must step up with the loss of Matt Forte. - Evan Mazza

The Bears bounce back, with an improved offense and a young but ascending defense. The Cutler to Jeffrey and Kevin White connection bears fruit, and Langford leads a very solid running back position. - Yitzi Weiss

This retooled offense looks ready to roll. Top ten pick Kevin White will finally play his first game. To some, including myself, Kevin White was seen as a better receiver than Amari Cooper in that draft class. Jeremy Langford will continue on an impressive rookie campaign. The defense is just not very good and it holds the team back. - Matt Cohen

Fourth Place - Detroit Lions:

If you thought that the Bears defense needed work, then get ready for the Lions, whose defense is somehow worse than the Bears. The Lions lost Megatron on offense, and have no receiver capable of being a reliable target for Matthew Stafford. On top of that, the running game is atrocious. It's gonna be a long year in Detroit. - Matt Cohen

This is a very difficult team to figure out. They looked like two different teams last year, improving for the better after Jim Bob Cooter (best name in the NFL) took over as offensive coordinator. Ultimately, the loss of Calvin Johnson can't be a good thing for Matthew Stafford. There aren't very many pieces on their defense to get excited about. - Jacob Louque

Once again, its a new regime in The Motor City as Bob Quinn, who worked 16 years for the Patriots, takes over as General Manager. The team looks to continue on a strong 6-2 finish in 2015, but with the loss of the recently retired Calvin Johnson, things might be a bit diffiult for the offense, even though they did acquire Marvin Jones. The defense has Ziggy Ansah and a good secondary led by Darius Slay. The Lions will compete, but they are not Green Bay or Minnesota yet. - Evan Mazza

How do you predict the NFC North will unfold next season?