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Lunchbreak: NFC North Could Be NFL's Best Division in 2018

The 2018 NFL season officially kicks off in two weeks, with the majority of teams playing their first game in 17 days.

As teams battle it out for division supremacy and jockey for playoff positioning, Jared Dubin of CBS Sports thinks one group of teams is poised for a successful season.

Dubin recently wrote that he expects the NFC North to be the top division across the league in 2018, as he wrote that an increase in talent and the upcoming schedule works in the division's favor.

Dubin wrote:

On occasion in the NFL, there is one division that stands out above the rest of the league. Over the past 16 seasons, there have been 15 instances of a division achieving a combined record of 25-15 or better in its games against non-divisional opponents. Those 25-win seasons by a division have been spread out rather haphazardly; but for the most part, it tends to be just one or two divisions that dominate the rest of the league.

The Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and Minnesota Vikings combined to go 22-18 against non-division opponents last season, tied for the second-best interdivisional record of any of the league's eight divisions.

The NFC North plays the AFC East (Bills, Dolphins, Jets and Patriots) and the NFC West (49ers, Cardinals, Rams and Seahawks) in 2018.

Dubin said Minnesota should fare well given the offseason additions for the defending NFC North champions.

The Vikings kept the core of one of the NFL's deepest and most talented rosters, and upgraded at quarterback (Kirk Cousins) and on the interior of their defensive line (Sheldon Richardson).

Dubin also wrote that new coaches in Chicago and Detroit, plus the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay, should make the NFC North one of the league's best divisions in 2018.

Iloka could be extra dimension for Vikings defense

George Iloka is willing to accept any role on his new team.

The safety signed with the Vikings on Wednesday, reuniting the 28-year old with Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer, who used to be Iloka's defensive coordinator with the Bengals.

With Iloka now on the roster, Matthew Coller of 1500ESPN.com wrote that Zimmer could creative in certain defensive packages and use three safeties to go against opposing offenses.

Coller wrote:

Iloka is highly unlikely to start over Andrew Sendejo, who is coming off a solid 2017 season, but his presence gives the Vikings an opportunity to offer looks they have not given opponents during the Zimmer era.

One of those options is to move All-Pro Harrison Smith into a linebacker spot during certain situations and use Iloka and Sendejo as the two safeties. With a reliable over-the-top safety, Smith could be used to thwart opponents usage of fullbacks or extra tight ends rather than sticking with a traditional 4-3 package.

Smith has proven to be exceptionally good at shifting spots when called upon. Per [Pro Football Focus], he played 577 snaps as a safety, 277 snaps at linebacker, 153 at slot corner, 112 off the edge and 34 as an outside corner.

"I think it will help some of the other packages we have," Zimmer said.

Iloka has nine career interceptions in 76 career starts.

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