NFC North Preview: Can the Vikings chip away at the Packers' dominance in the North?

The Lions lost Calvin Johnson, and might be in trouble as the Packers and the Vikings' rivaly is about to heat up

With the NFL pre-season well underway and the real action about to begin, we break down each division in the NFL to highlight what to what to watch out for, who to avoid in your Fantasy Football draft, and make one bold prediction which will surely come back to bite us.

NFC North in five words:

It's the Packers' to lose.

Team under the most pressure:

The amount of pressure is relative, but in his third year, Jim Caldwell really needs to have a winning record, at the very least, to keep his job. He might be spared considering he lost Calvin Johnson in the off-season, but there will be plenty of pressure on this team to produce a better season than they could muster last year (7-9).

The rest of the division have improved, and competition will be healthy, but the Lions face the distinct possibility of finishing as the bookend at the bottom of the division.

Storyline to keep an eye on:

Can the Vikings continue to chip away at the Packers' dominance in the division? Mike Zimmer is an excellent head coach and he has a quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater who is ready to take the next step in his career. While Adrian Peterson is on his last legs in the league, Zimmer can rely heavily on the Rookie of the Year in 2014 this time around, and their defense has improved too.

The Packers have held a monopoly on the division since Aaron Rodgers came to the fore as Brett Favre's replacement, and they are not likely to give up their throne easily. Jordy Nelson returns as their top wide receiver and Eddie Lacy arrived to training camp in better shape than he did a year previous. Admitting that he had been embarrassed by the shape he turned up in last time out and having people comment on his weight, in particular his coach, and looks to have gone about solving that problem. 

The Vikings are building something special though, and the two games between these two rivals this year will certainly be fun to watch.

Bold prediction:

The Bears will click on defense and crush their opposition on the way to claiming their first division title since 2010. John Fox is an excellent coach and he spent most of last year trying to figure out who and what he had on the sidelines as well as on the field.

He switched to 3-4, and now has Akiem Nicks and Pernell McPhee on the defensive line along with Jonathan Trevathon at linebacker. He's settled on this defence now and while the secondary could do with improving, the pressure they're able to apply up front might make it easier on them.

Best rookie in the division:

Much like Dante Fowler in our AFC South Preview, we are going with a player who is not a true rookie, but Kevin White did not play a single snap in his rookie season thanks to a stress fracture in his left shin.

Jay Cutler will need options and you figure they will get the ball in some good spots thanks to a much improved defense and a player experts raved about last year is sure to arrive into the 2016 with a point to prove. There was a debate over whether White or Amari Cooper was the best wide receiver in last year's draft and as of now, the answer to that particular dilemma is Cooper - that could change though. 

Fantasy do's and don'ts:

Do draft Teddy Bridgewater - He is the new face of the Vikings' franchise and has a young and vibrant wide receiving corps around him to put up big numbers.

Don't draft any Bears running backs - Too many unknowns after a decade of success in Chicago for Matt Forte. Langford looks good, but starting as the number one back and playing as a backup or situational player are two entirely different things.

Do draft Jay Cutler - Cutler remains an unknown, or at least an inconsistent entity, and while he might not be the best QB in the division, he will be looking for Jeffrey and Kevin White early and often as he becomes a legitimate QB1 for your team.

Don't draft Adrian Peterson - It might be a big call but at 31-years-old and after so many years with such a heavy workload, this is the year Peterson slows down and slows down for good. It was fun while it lasted, but the ACL tear on top of everything else is just asking too much.

You can read the rest of our other divisional previews below: 

AFC North

AFC South

AFC East

AFC West

NFC South

NFC East

NFC West