The NFC North is shaping up to once again be a competitive division.
The Bears won the division in 2010. Since then, however, either the Vikings or Packers have been champs, with the Vikings taking the title two of the past three seasons. Which of the four teams will earn the division title in 2018?
FOX Sports North posted a story by the Associated Press that not only gave a preview of the division but also predicted Minnesota to take the crown. The following is an excerpt of the article:
The annual report on the NFC North has almost always focused on the Packers, the Vikings or both of these fierce rivals since the NFL's most recent realignment produced the current eight-division format in 2002.
With new head coaches in Detroit (Matt Patricia) and Chicago (Matt Nagy) this year, a big breakout by the Lions or Bears would be necessary to bump the Vikings and Packers from the lead story of 2018.
[Sam] Bradford and [Case] Keenum departed with Teddy Bridgewater as free agents, but the Vikings signed the best available replacement on the market in Kirk Cousins. They upgraded at defensive tackle with Sheldon Richardson, too, toting as many top-tier players in the 22-man starting lineup as any competitor in the NFL.
With the aspiration of winning the Super Bowl for the first time in the franchise's 58-year history, the Vikings must be concerned about an entire NFC that's as stacked as ever. But for Minnesota, there's no greater competition, now or over the past quarter-century, than Green Bay.
Beebe's persistence on the field started at young age
Vikings wide receiver Chad Beebe, who signed with the Vikings as an undrafted rookie this spring, has been receiving some attention as of late.
Chad Graff of The Athletic recently spoke to Chad's father, Don, who played in five Super Bowls (and missed a sixth due to injury) and won Super Bowl XXXI with the Packers. Graff asked Don about Chad's start in football, and he recalled an interesting story. Graff wrote:
Don didn't push football on his only son, Chad. He told him he'd be proud if he wanted to play the piano or appear in school plays, and he didn't go out of his way to share stories from nine seasons in the NFL. But when Chad was 7, he told his dad he wanted to give the sport a shot. So Don signed him up for the local tackle league in Aurora, Illinois, and sat in the stands for Chad's first practice, a fully-padded initiation for the young boy.
Chad lined up at linebacker during a tackling drill. Just take down the guy in front of you, his coach told him. He ran toward the ball-carrier a bit scared and slowed before they collided. The other kid crushed him.
Practice ended and Don asked his son on the ride home how his first practice went. Chad's eyes welled with tears. Don told him he seemed a bit apprehensive on the field.
"And he goes, 'Yeah, dad, I was a little scared,' " Don told Graff. "And I said, 'Listen, bud. You don't need to play. It's OK. It's not a big deal.' "
Graff explained that Chad persisted, and Don gave his son advice on how to approach the same drill the following day in practice.
"I'm standing there the next day and, man, he hit this kid so hard that he de-cleated the kid," Don told Graff. "It was one of those proud moments, you know, because I looked at his face through that helmet and he was just gleaming. When we got in the truck after this time, I said again, 'How'd you feel today?' And he just loved it. And he's never turned back. I knew at that age that he really had a love for the game."
Click here to read more of Graff's deep-dive on Beebe's passion for the game.