2022 NFC North Breakdown by Position: The Offense

NFC North Offense

During the month of August, the Last Word on Sports NFL department will be breaking down every division in the league by position. This article contains a position-by-position breakdown of the NFC North offenses. The breakdown will contain “the best” at each unit followed by “the rest” in descending order. If two competing starters are very close in skill, the team with better depth at the position will be chosen.

NFC North Breakdown By Position: The Defense

2022 NFC North Offense Breakdown by Position

The NFC North race could be a good one in 2022. The Green Bay Packers, led by back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers, have reigned as champions for each of the past three seasons. However, the Vikings are poised to make a push this year after making many improvements and having the great connection of Kirk Cousins to Justin Jefferson. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears both have young, inexperienced rosters but could display some of their talents in 2022. With a bunch of stars loaded into one division, it is very hard to rank them all based on some of the depth these four teams have. These are the offensive rankings by position for the NFC North in 2022.

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Quarterback

The Best: Green Bay Packers

The Rest: Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears

There is no doubt that Aaron Rodgers is the best quarterback in the NFC North. He holds the title of back-to-back MVP and has played at a high level for the Packers for years. He is one of the best quarterbacks of the era and continues to put up great numbers despite his increasing age. Kirk Cousins comes in at number two in the division despite being a good quarterback. For years, he has been underrated and consistently labeled as “simply average.” While he’s never led the Vikings to a playoff berth in his four seasons with Minnesota, he’s put up good numbers that place him around the top 15 in the NFL.

In the lower tier of the division sits Jared Goff and Justin Fields. Goff has plenty more experience in the NFL and has been to a Super Bowl. He threw for 3,200 yards and 19 touchdowns last year, which are relatively below-average numbers. But, in 12 games, Fields posted 1,870 yards along with a 7-10 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He struggled quite a bit behind a horrid overall offense and poor coaching. However, he could make big strides with the new Bears coaching staff.

Running Back

The Best: Minnesota Vikings

The Rest: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears

Dalvin Cook is, without a doubt, one of the best and most efficient running backs in all of football. The three-time Pro Bowler has scored 36 touchdowns in the past three seasons and has racked up nearly 5,000 all-purpose yards in that span. Plus, the Vikings have Alexander Mattison who handled a decent workload in 2021. Cook is the best running back in the division, hence the reason the Vikings take this category. But, the next two teams, the Packers and Lions, are very close in their running back depth.

The Packers have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, while the Lions have D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams as their top two backs. At this point, Jones and Swift are about equal in production, but the tie goes to the Packers because of their depth with Dillon. Jones and Dillon shared rather equal touches and together put up 2,300 total yards and 17 total touchdowns. The Packers edge Detroit out here simply because of their two-star depth, but the Lions do still have two very capable running backs.

In last place in the NFC North, the Bears feature David Montgomery in the backfield. This isn’t saying that Montgomery is bad, but the other backs of the division simply have better situations and therefore more production. Chicago’s depth is alright, with Khalil Herbert serving as the backup; he put up just over 400 yards on 100 carries last season. Montgomery and Herbert aren’t a bad tandem, but the three other teams just have better duos.

Wide Receiver

The Best: Minnesota Vikings

The Rest: Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears

Justin Jefferson is the highlight of the Vikings’ offense. He finished as a top-three receiver last year while putting up a whopping 1,616 yards on 108 receptions. Jefferson’s amazing speed and ability to get open help him make the case for being one of the best at the position. Paired with Jefferson, veteran Adam Thielen continues to put up good numbers despite increasing age and having more impactful injuries. However, he has scored 24 touchdowns in the last two seasons despite missing quite a bit of time. Minnesota also has KJ Osborn right behind these two, so they have considerable depth behind their best two. Jefferson and Thielen are the best wideout duo in the division and may be the best in the sport too.

The Lions’ and Packers’ receivers’ rooms are very similar in their makeup. Both have an established younger receiver, along with some veterans that give the room experience. The Lions feature breakout star Amon-Ra St. Brown along with Pro Bowler DJ Chark. The Packers’ top three include a potential star in Allen Lazard, and veterans Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins. The difference in rankings between the two comes from the skill differences in the two teams’ rookies.  The Packers feature two standout receivers in NDSU product Christian Watson and Tennessee product Romeo Doubs, both of whom could be really good if used properly. I believe these two outweigh the Lions’ Jameson Williams and a few other guys like Josh Reynolds and Kalif Raymond. These two teams’ rooms are very close together, but I think that the Packers’ receivers will thrive more in the Packers’ system behind Aaron Rodgers.

Coming in last place yet again is the Chicago Bears. They feature Darnell Mooney, an emerging star, at WR1. They also have guys like Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry who have some experience with other teams. There’s just a concern that the Bears don’t have an official star receiver (Mooney is great but is just not close to a lot of WR1s) and don’t have too many above-average players at the position to back Mooney up.

Tight End

The Best: Detroit Lions

The Rest: Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings

The Lions take this category as they feature TJ Hockenson, who put up 600 yards while battling injuries. The Lions look to be better this year and could use Hockenson in a bigger role. Hockenson has been a reliable receiver and a sound blocker for Detroit. Hockenson has had a phenomenal start to his career and leads the NFC North as the best tight end in the division. 

Cole Kmet gives the Bears their first non-last place finish in these rankings. Kmet finished with 60 catches for slightly over 600 yards last season. With a lowly receiver room, Justin Fields could look to Kmet more and more. He finished with zero touchdowns last year, but expect him to get on the board quite a bit this season if Chicago plays to their potential.

The Packers and Vikings both have the starting tight ends coming back from season-ending injuries. Green Bay’s Robert Tonyan put up 600 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2020 before only playing a few games last season. Irv Smith, of Minnesota, had 30 catches for 365 yards and five touchdowns in 2020. Tonyan and a few others in the Packers’ group (Josiah Deguara and Marcedes Lewis) have blocking upside and can help with their 1-2 rushing attack with Jones and Dillon. Smith isn’t bad and has the potential to be a good, young receiver, but he won’t be used as much in an offense that features stars Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and Adam Thielen.

Offensive Line

The Best: Detroit Lions

The Rest: Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears

It has taken a few years, but the Lions have built up a rather successful offensive line. They have a strong line headlined by Frank Ragnow, Jonah Jackson, and Penei Sewell. This unit could be one of the best in the NFL if they gel well.

The Vikings and Packers are close but Green Bay takes it for second place. They will be welcoming back All-Pro David Bakhtiari and 2020 Pro Bowler Elgton Jenkins. They also have a few emerging stars at the line like Jon Runyan. This group has more NFL experience and edges out Minnesota narrowly. The Vikings are right there with the Packers, as they are led by Christian Darrisaw, Garrett Bradbury, and Brian O’Neill. This line is young but has a lot of potential.  

Finally, the Bears fall in last place. They have a few veterans like Cody Whitehair, Lucas Patrick, and Riley Reiff, but there are quite a few concerns about the depth and the quality of the starters at the tackle position.

NFC North Breakdown By Position: The Defense