Kirk Herbstreit has strong feelings about Vikings division rival for 2024

ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit
ESPN broadcaster Kirk Herbstreit / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Despite finishing with a 7-10 record in 2023 and moving on from Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter this year, Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell is likely going to have his team prepared to compete for the top of the NFC North when they return to the field next season.

Depending on how the upcoming NFL Draft turns out, the NFC North is shaping up to potentially be one of the most competitive divisions in the entire league next season.

The Detroit Lions are coming off an appearance in the NFC Championship, the Green Bay Packers made it to the divisional round of the playoffs last season, the Chicago Bears are about to select former USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick in the draft, and Vikings seem like a team that could shock a few people in 2024. The NFC North could easily end up sending three teams to the playoffs next season.

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit wants people to "get ready" for Minnesota Vikings division rival in 2024

Kirk Herbstreit is mostly known for his work as a college football analyst and color commentator for ESPN, but for the past two years, he's spent his Thursday evenings as an NFL color commentator for "Thursday Night Football" on Prime Video.

Recently, Herbstreit appeared on "The Pat McAfee Show" and he had the following to say about what people should expect from the Bears next season.

"When [Chicago] made that trade [for Montez Sweat], and they got a lot better on the defensive side when Sweat came over, and the secondary got healthy, I'm telling you.

Everybody expected [Matt] Eberflus to get let go [during] the middle of the year. The guy had an energy about him. His team responds to him.

You better get on the Bears right now. You better get on the Bears.

And I'm not a Bears guy. I don't care about the Bears. They're the Detroit Lions from a [couple of years ago]. They're coming. The Bears are coming. Get ready."

So, if the Bears are being compared to the Lions, are they the 2022 Lions that finished just short of making the playoffs, or are they Detroit's team from last season that made it all the way to the NFC Championship?

Chicago did finish strong in 2023, winning four of their final six games. This offseason, they signed safety Kevin Byard, running back D'Andre Swift, and tight end Gerald Everett in free agency, in addition to acquiring Pro Bowl wide receiver Keenan Allen in a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Bears also have two top-10 selections in the 2024 NFL Draft later this month, including the No. 1 overall pick that is expected to be used on Williams.

Should Chicago be better next season? On paper, it seems like they should.

But they're still going to have a rookie quarterback running their offense, and despite the improvements the defense made in 2023, there are still a number of question marks surrounding the unit heading into next season. So they're still probably a year away from being a legitimate threat to finish at the top of the NFC North.

Division games are certainly not going to be easy for Minnesota next season. The Vikings went 2-4 against NFC North opponents in 2023, and the three other members of the division are probably going to be better next season.

Minnesota shocked a lot of people when they won 13 games and the NFC North back in 2022. If the Vikings are somehow able to defy the odds again and win the division next season, then O'Connell might end up becoming the recipient of the first Coach of the Year award of his career.

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