ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The NFL season is here. Is this the year we’re supposed to take the Detroit Lions seriously in the NFC North? They haven’t won a division championship since 1993. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1991.

Well, I think we should take them seriously. It’s a team with some excellent young talent on both sides of the football and a coach in Dan Campbell who transcends most of the head coaches who have preceded him in Detroit over the years with his passion that seems to play well with his players.

I have the Lions winning the NFC North. I’m not going overboard. I have them going 10-7 and winning a mediocre division. I have the Packers next at 8-9. I like the personnel they have on their defense, but all of those former first-round draft picks have to produce. It’s the offensive side that’s the concern. Jordan Love and his young receivers need much more time to grow.

I’ve got the Bears going 7-10. Before you balk at that Bears fans, that’s more than double their win total from last season. The Bears have better personnel than last season certainly, and Justin Fields has an added year of valuable experience, but the Bears still aren’t good enough on the lines, especially on the defensive line unless rookie tackles Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens are very fast learners.

The Vikings won a lot of close games last season. They’ll tumble from the top of the division to the bottom with a 5-12 record. Justin Jefferson can’t win ten games all by himself.

Looking down the road at the playoffs, in the AFC Championship game I’m going with the Bengals over the Steelers. That’s right the Steelers. That’s asking a lot from a Pittsburgh team that has second-year player Kenny Pickett at quarterback to reach the championship game, but the Steelers are loaded everywhere else, especially on defense, and in the cold weather of the playoffs they’ll be a tough out, just not tough enough to get by the Bengals and reach the Super Bowl.

In the NFC I have the 49ers defeating the Eagles. The Niners are loaded everywhere, and even though Brock Purdy is young, I love the way he reads defenses and makes quick, good decisions with the football. At the end of the season he could be in the conversation as one of the top five to seven quarterbacks in the NFL.

What about the defending Super Bowl Champions the Kansas City Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes you say? They’ll be in the hunt, but hey even Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in New England didn’t win the Super Bowl every year. It’s hard to maintain that hunger, that drive when you’re coming off a Super Bowl championship season, and there are always injuries and some luck involved, and who knows when or if Chris Jones will suit up for the Chiefs this season.