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NFC North Comparison Prediction Series: QB and RB

You loved my Lions bold predictions so much that you demanded more. Thanks to BWC, I’ve decided to write a comparison prediction series for some key position groups across the NFC North. We’ll start by looking at QBs and RBs.

Quarterback

The NFC North has a good mix of QBs. Rodgers is an elite talent. Stafford has been good but offers some inconsistency at times. Cutler can move the ball but is way too turn over prone. Bridgewater is a second year QB that showed some good consistent flashes in his rookie year despite only 14 TDs and 12 interceptions.

Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP. He is immersed in the McCarthy system and has plenty of weapons (maybe 4 or 5 good ones), good protection and run support with Lacy.

Ceiling:

A 2011-esque season for Rodgers with 4,600 yards, 45 TDs and 6 interceptions in 2015 is his ceiling. Rodgers will be in the upper 60s percentage of completion.

Floor:

The Packers had extreme health in 2014. Some normal offensive line and weapon injuries could change some production for Rodgers.

4,200 yards 28 TDs and 11 interceptions is his floor to match 2010 numbers. Rodgers is more experienced than 2010; but protection and weapon injuries can change things drastically. Rodgers should still be in the mid 60 percentage of completion.

Rodgers notching 4,400 yards 32 TDs and 8 interceptions could be his floor too with good health support; which I’m sure Packer fans will agree more with that second floor. Rodgers has a great floor either way but a great floor might not be enough for the rest of the Packers team.

Matt Stafford

Stafford develops into year 2 of the Lombardi system and received upgraded talent along the offensive line and RB situation this offseason. Lions should be healthier along the offensive line, WR1, TE and RB in 2015. Stafford protected the ball in year 1 under Caldwell despite 600 attempts and should have better protection and 3rd and 4th weapon production in 2015 to help avoid costly picks and incompletes.

Ceiling:

Stafford notching 5,000 yards 38 TDs and 10 interceptions is a good ceiling. Stafford has proved he can move the ball a lot and score a high number of TDs. It’s up to his 3rd weapon, run support and protection to give him the statistical jump he deserves after good seasons on tape in 2013 and 2014. Stafford could reach 65% completion with the proper normal offensive support.

Floor:

Stafford had been turnover prone in 2012 and 2013 dealing with injured weapons, drops and a lack of a running game. The Lions lost 15 and 16 fumbles respectively killing scoring drives. Stafford still was able to move the ball well during those years and lead the offense to points despite the offensive woes around him.

4,500 yards 28 TDs and 16 interceptions is his floor in year 2 of the Lombardi offense. Stafford had only 22 TDs and 20 TDs in 2014 and 2012; but Stafford has more reliable weapons and protection in 2015 than those low TD years. Therefore, I didn’t make his TD floor as low as those years. During 2013, Stafford had 29 TDs (6th in league) which is more in line with his floor even with 34 turnovers from the Detroit offense under Linehan. Stafford should be around 60% completion at his floor as he won’t have a 9% drop rate like 2013.

Jay Cutler

Smoking Jay is back for Chicago but with a new OC in Adam Gase/ Year 1 in the Gase system will help in some areas (maybe less turnovers) but hurt in others (inexperience). Cutler should have plenty of weapons with Jeffrey, White, Bennett, Royal and Forte. His protection in 2014 was the best he ever received. However, the guy just throws too many picks. Cutler can move the ball and put up points but he just throws too many turnovers if asked to throw a high amount of attempts.

Ceiling

Cutler chalks up 4,440 yards 29 TDs and 16 interceptions based on past play. I’ll give a second ceiling; if Gase can work some magic for Cutler. Cutler could have 4,800 yards 35 TDs and 14 interceptions based on his talent and surprise pretty much everyone. The weapons and protection and run support could be in place already. It’s basically Adam Gase versus Trestman versus the Lovie OCs in a no holds barred match.

Floor

Cutler stumbles to 3,900 yards 23 TDs and 20 interceptions. Plus over 100 pouty faces. This would be his last year starting in Chicago.

Teddy Bridgewater

Bridgewater gets a huge boost with Peterson back for run support. The pass blocking didn’t seem to be addressed by Minnesota and Bridgewater was pressured way too much. Bridgewater will be in year 2 of the Norv Turner system after a decent but unspectacular rookie year. Peterson running more could mean only 450 attempts for the Vikings QB.

Ceiling

Teddy B garnering 4,200 yards 24 TDs and 11 interceptions would be a good season for the young QB with Peterson carrying the load. Vikings could win a lot of games with those numbers, Peterson and a good defense.

Floor

Bridgewater producing 3,900 yards 21 TDs and 16 interceptions could be a sophomore slump for Bridgewater.

Running Back

The NFC North is full of good running backs. Peterson and Forte have been good RBs for years. Lacy has been a beast his first two seasons. Joique Bell was somehow ranked a top 10 RB per PFF and is a solid work horse back that can get yards after contact and make people miss despite limited blocking in front of him.

Adrian Peterson

Peterson returns from a 15 game suspension. He is 30 years old and missed almost a full year but he is still a monster. Peterson is still a Hall of Fame running back.

Ceiling:

Peterson’s HOF ceiling is 1,800 yards at 5.2 YPC and 10 TDs.

Floor:

Peterson’s floor is 1,270 yards at 4.5 YPC and 8 TDs. Don’t count out Peterson.

Eddie Lacy

Lacy had 4.6 YPC and 9 TDs in 2014. He is tough to tackle and has some elusiveness with good vision and good blocking.

Ceiling:

1,200 yards at 4.8 YPC with 10 TDs is his ceiling in 2015. Rodgers still leads this offense with close to 550 attempts.

Floor:

1,025 yards at 4.1 YPC with 7 TDs is his floor. Lacy is a tough runner but not speedy enough to be a monster every year.

Matt Forte

Forte is a great receiver but has been up and down as a runner with Chicago. Forte had 3.9 YPC in 2014 but 4.6 YPC in 2015. This should match his ceiling and floor.

Ceiling:

Forte could rumble for 1,339 at 4.6 YPC and 10 TDs like the 2013 season.

Floor:

Forte could be just solid with 1,038 3.9 YPC and 6 TDs in 2015.

Joique Bell

Bell is an above average runner and good receiver. However, Bell will split carries with 2nd round pick Ameer Abdullah. Bell is recovering from knee and Achilles surgery this offseason. Bell averaged 4.4 YPC the last 8 games of 2014 and had 5 YPC on 80 carries in 2012.

Ceiling:

If Bell is healthy and has good blocking, 880 yards on 200 carries at 4.4 YPC with 9 TDs.

Floor:

Bell had 3.9 YPC in 2013 and 2014. I can’t see him doing worse than that since he can get yards after contact and has some elusiveness. The run blocking should be better for Detroit in 2015.

Bell notching 200 carries at 3.9 YPC 780 yards and 7 TDs is his floor and unfortunately, past production for Detroit in 2013 and 2014. Abdullah will get 150 carries or more and have a higher YPC to bring the Lion’s run game to average in the league.

Summary

There is great mix of offensive talent at QB and RB. The Packers have the best QB/RB combo in the North and maybe the league. The other three teams have talent but much to prove in one area or the other. The next article will focus on WRS and TEs.