Overall team ranking shows tight race in NFC North
Last in a series
In the series finale, we rank the NFC North clubs at every position. Rankings are based on performance to date, scouting reports and evaluations from general managers, coaches and scouts around the NFL.
The original plan for Part 10 was to rank the head coaches and their staffs, but the more NFL folks we talked to, the more difficult that became.
Mike Zimmer received mostly high marks as an excellent defensive-minded coach whose 57-38-1 record over six seasons leading the Minnesota Vikings with just one losing season -- his first in which he went 7-9 -- two division titles and three playoff appearances are well above average.
But none of Matt Nagy, Matt Patricia or Matt LaFleur has more than two seasons on the job.
While Detroit's Patricia would obviously rank fourth based on what we know to date, what do you do with the Bears' Nagy, who has an NFL Coach of the Year as a rookie but then a bad sophomore slump; and how about Green Bay's LaFleur with just one outstanding debut but no idea what the encore will look like?
All three have to get incompletes, making this category impossible to grade or rank.
So, what we decided to do instead is look at all our rankings and try and come up with a formula to rank the four teams' overall talent.
Why not just rank which are the best teams?
Because obviously a team can much better afford to rank third or fourth at tight end than it can at quarterback -- just one example of not knowing how to value the importance of each position.
Next, is offense or defense more important? How do you value special teams?
What we can do using apples and apples is simply rank each teams overall talent and the division is actually extremely close.
Team scores (ranking)Bears: Offense: 3 (4th), Defense: 1 (1st)
Packers: Offense: 2 (1st), Defense: 3 (Tied 2nd)
Lions: Offense: 2.4 (2nd), Defense: 3 (4th)
Vikings: Offense: 2.6 (3rd), Defense: 3 (Tied 2nd)
For rankings we totaled each team's five offensive ranks (QB, RB, WR, TE, OL) and three defensive ranks (DL, LB, DB), divided by five or three and came up with a rank.
Awarding 1 point for an A+, 2 for an A, 3 for an A-, etc. all the way down to 10 for a D+, the Packers earned 54 points, the Bears 55, Minnesota 58 and Detroit 59.
It should surprise no one the Packers are clearly the most talented offense in the division with the Bears a distant fourth, but the Lions coming up a hair ahead of the Vikings we didn't see coming.
Likewise, the Bears are a runaway as the division's best defense, in large part due to all the cap casualties the Vikings have had this past offseason, while the Lions fourth-place finish was expected, but they're closer to the Packers and the Vikings than we thought.
What was most interesting is in averaging out overall letter grades based on all nine positional rankings with no weighing for value at quarterback as opposed to tight end, etc. This revealed very little splits between the four teams.
At the end of the day trying to come up with any final results is really pretty much just for fun.
The one thing we can say with some certainty is it's almost for sure there are no 3-13 teams in the NFC North.