The Lions are looking for ex-Raven Haloti Ngata to fill some of the very large shoes Ndamukong Suh left behind when he signed with Miami. (Carlos Osorio/Associated Press)

by  Mark Maske

and Neil Greenberg

Green Bay Packers
2014 victories:12
2014 losses: 4

OUTLOOK: The loss of WR Jordy Nelson to a season-ending knee injury suffered during the preseason certainly limits the options for QB Aaron Rodgers and damages Green Bay’s Super Bowl hopes. But this remains a solid and dangerous team. As long as Rodgers — a two-time league most valuable player — is in the lineup, the Packers have a chance to be among the final teams left playing at the end of the season.

IMPACT ADDITION: It didn’t appear that rookie WR Ty Montgomery would have a major role this season when the Packers used a third-round draft pick on him. But with Nelson out, Montgomery and second-year pro Jeff Janis could get significant playing time at wide receiver alongside Randall Cobb and Davante Adams.



Percentage of drives ending in an offensive score, which led the league.

Minnesota Vikings
2014 victories: 7
2014 losses: 9

OUTLOOK: RB Adrian Peterson returns to complement second-year QB Teddy Bridgewater in the offense. Peterson sat out all but one game last season and at one point during the offseason seemed to want to play elsewhere. But he and the Vikings worked out a new contract and now the issue is whether he, at age 30, can return to his previous level of on-field production. He was a 2,000-yard rusher in 2012 and ran for 1,266 yards in 14 games in 2013.

IMPACT ADDITION: It didn’t work out all that well for WR Mike Wallace in Miami, where he played two seasons, averaged less than 13 yards per catch and didn’t have a 1,000-yard receiving season. But he gets a fresh start in Minnesota, and the Vikings hope he resembles the big-play threat that he was in Pittsburgh when he topped 1,100 receiving yards in both 2010 and 2011.



Yards per cover snap allowed by CB Xavier Rhodes, putting him in the Top 10 at his position.

Detroit Lions
2014 victories: 11
2014 losses: 5

OUTLOOK: DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are gone from a defense that ranked second in the league last season. Lions players say they’re confident the defense can remain dominant this year, and there were times during the preseason when that indeed seemed possible. But the offense might have to do more, and the Lions must hope that WR Calvin Johnson stays healthy enough to play 16 games for the first time since 2012. If that happens, the passing game could be imposing with QB Matthew Stafford throwing to Johnson and fellow WR Golden Tate.

IMPACT ADDITION: Detroit traded for former Baltimore DE Haloti Ngata to begin the offseason. He doesn’t necessarily have to compensate single-handedly for the loss of Suh, but the Lions probably need him to be very productive if the defense is going to come close to last year’s level.



Total yards after the catch by Tate, the most among wide receivers.

Chicago Bears
2014 victories: 5
2014 losses: 11

OUTLOOK: The new regime of GM Ryan Pace and Coach John Fox stuck with beleagured veteran Jay Cutler at quarterback. Now it’s up to Adam Gase, the offensive coordinator who joined Fox in moving from Denver to Chicago, to try to get the best out of the much-maligned passer. It certainly doesn’t help that prized rookie WR Kevin White begins the season on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing surgery for a shin injury suffered during offseason workouts.

IMPACT ADDITION: The Bears signed DE Pernell McPhee in free agency to bolster their pass rush. He was a good situational pass rusher in Baltimore who had 71/2 sacks last season. But that was with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil around to be the focal point for opposing offensive lines.



Points allowed per game, the second highest among defenses.