4 bold predictions for Packers, NFC North in 2023

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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The Lions defense drastically improves

Detroit's struggles to disrupt opposing offenses caused its undoing in 2022.

The Lions gave up the third-most passing yards and fourth-most rushing yards in the NFL while registering a below-league-average 39 sacks.

This horrid defensive performance caused their triumphant Week 18 win over the Packers to mean very little, as they had already been eliminated from postseason contention prior to the game.

Heading into the fall, this problem can be corrected in a major way.

First, the team's pass rush should improve. Aidan Hutchinson led the team with 9.5 sacks last season and should improve during his second NFL season.

Alongside him, the team will be getting Romeo Okwara and Charles Harris back after both dealt with significant injuries a year ago. Okwara registered 10 sacks in 2020, while Harris got to the quarterback 7.5 times in 2021, proving each can make an impact when they're on the field.

Throw in 2022 sixth-round selection James Houston, who tallied eight sacks on only 13 pressures last season, and the Lions suddenly may have four capable rushers on hand.

Detroit should also take a noticeable leap in the secondary after general manager Brad Holmes pulled off some big moves. The signings of former Steeler Cameron Sutton and ex-49er Emmanuel Moseley add two new starting corners to pair with up-and-comer Jerry Jacobs.

While the improvements at corner are important, the real splash was made toward the back of the defense. The Lions overhauled their safety room by both signing Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and drafting Brian Branch.

Gardner-Johnson was tied for the league lead in interceptions last season and will play on a one-year, prove-it-type deal after contract negotiations with the Eagles fell through.

Branch was the first safety taken in this year's draft after a strong career at Alabama, and profiles as someone who can play both the nickel and in a traditional free safety spot.

That skillset may come in handy, as the Lions also have two more starting caliber safeties in Kerby Joseph and Tracy Walker.

The Packers are already familiar with Joseph's talents after he recorded three interceptions against them during his 2022 rookie campaign. As for Walker, he was productive for several seasons before tearing his Achilles last September.

This group provides a ton of versatility for defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn to work with, and it could be the standout of this defense.

The Lions could be the favorites to win the division. With this defensive improvement, they very well could fulfil those expectations.