The hit HBO show Game of Thrones that racked up a record 32 Emmy nominations became such a cultural force that it even unintentionally spawned a slogan for one of the NFLs most tradition-rich divisions.Defend the North was a familiar mantra for the mythical characters in the vicious drama. That might as well be the theme of this season for the Chicago Bears , who became NFC North champions last year for the first time since 2010 behind a ferocious defense led by All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack.The Bears were the league leader in turnovers forced and points allowed and ranked third in sacks and yards, the biggest reason they went 12-4 in coach Matt Nagys first season. Mack, acquired in the blockbuster trade with Oakland eight days before the 2018 opener, is back to headline the unit along with fellow Pro Bowl picks cornerback Kyle Fuller, defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and safety Eddie Jackson.The Bears have plenty of defensive company in this division, though.The Minnesota Vikings, who stumbled to an 8-7-1 record after reaching the NFC title game, kept their deep, experienced group intact for coach Mike Zimmers critical sixth year on the sideline. Hey, they even use a wintry, Game of Thrones-style pregame hype video in the build-up to kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium.Sure, the Green Bay Packers are still quarterback Aaron Rodgers team. Their biggest offseason move was to hire Matt LaFleur as their new coach, hoping to have found the NFLs latest under-40 offensive mastermind. They used free agency to find three new starters on defense, however, including signing safety Adrian Amos away from the Bears. One source of optimism for a turnaround in Titletown from a 6-9-1 finish starts with the acumen of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, who stayed on staff after the changeover from the fired Mike McCarthy.Dont forget the Detroit Lions, either, despite their 6-10 record in 2018. Theyve begun their second year under coach Matt Patricia , the defensive coordinator for two Super Bowl-winning teams with New England, with a spruced-up front four. They picked up former Patriots defensive end Trey Flowers in free agency and ex-Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels, a 2017 Pro Bowl pick who became a salary cap casualty, right before training camp.With the Bears (third), Vikings (fourth) and Lions (10th), the NFC North sported three of the top 10 defenses in the league last season in terms of yards allowed. Heres a closer look at the NFC North quartet in 2019:NEW BOSSThe Bears again ought to be difficult to advance against, with offensive disrupters well established at each of the three levels even if they cant maintain their torrid takeaway pace of 2018 with 27 interceptions and nine fumbles recovered out of 19 fumbles forced. Chuck Pagano replaced Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator after Fangio took the step up to become Denvers coach.We understand what the expectations are. Its really change the changeable, accept the unchangeable Leonard Floyd Color Rush Jersey , right? And remove whatevers not good, Pagano said.Assuming more progress by quarterback Mitch Trubisky and running back Tarik Cohen in Nagys creative scheme, the position that could make or break Chicagos chance of repeating as division champion for the first time since 2006 is kicker. For now, that person is Eddy Pineiro. He emerged from the drawn-out competition to replace Cody Parkey, who infamously missed a 43-yard field goal in the one-point loss at home to Philadelphia in the playoffs.ON THE REBOUND?The Vikings have failed to finish with a winning record twice in five years under Zimmer (7-9 in 2014 and 8-8 in 2016), and they followed both flops with a division title the next season. Theyll lean on Zimmers proud, seasoned defense to try to extend that trend, with all but one starter returning. This group has become so tight-knit that linebacker Anthony Barr couldnt bring himself to leave in free agency, reneging on a verbal agreement with the New York Jets after a sleepless night in March.The offense under quarterback Kirk Cousins disappeared down the stretch last year. Zimmers first remedy was to hire former Denver and Houston coach Gary Kubiak as an offensive adviser. Cousins has a new center, Garrett Bradbury, and a dynamic tight end, Irv Smith Jr., thanks to the first two rounds of the draft. Ultimately, Cousins must produce more of those clutch performances in critical games that his NFL resume has so far lacked.Im pretty much a .500 quarterback in my career so far, and I dont think thats where you want to be, Cousins said. Thats not why youre brought in or why people are excited about you.QUENCHING FOR THE QBRodgers has entered his 15th season and his 12th as the starter in a new system under LaFleur, who was the offensive coordinator for Tennessee last year. While the once-potent offense in Green Bay has not been nearly as dangerous in recent seasons, the onus falls just as hard on Pettines defense to help the Packers return to the playoffs after a rare two-year absence.They signed pass rushers ZaDarius Smith and Preston Smith along with Amos in free agency, and they used first-round draft picks on outside linebacker Rashan Gary and safety Darnell Savage.Its just a different feel on that side of the ball, Rodgers said. I feel like theres a little more juice.TAKE IT AWAYThough the Lions lost seven of their last 10 games last season, the defense finished strong with a total of 27 points allowed over the final four games. Premier run stuffer Damon Harrison Sr. will have Daniels and Flowers on either side, a strengthened front that ought to help the Lions improve upon their second-worst-in-the-league total of 14 turnovers forced last year, and give quarterback Matthew Stafford more support.Its going to be scary to see what they can do. From a back-end standpoint, thats exactly what you want, said free safety Andrew Adams, one of several additions to the secondary. Were all licking our chops.PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:Vikings Eric Kush Jersey , Bears, Packers, Lions When a team vastly improves from being basement dwellers, to becoming major playoff contenders, teams in both the collegiate and pro levels will surely notice. So much so, that theres always a chance multiple coaching assistants will be lost to teams in need of a new head coach. It comes with the territory of being a winning football team. In the case of the Chicago Bears, two names have been mentioned repeatedly: Vic Fangio; and Mark Helfrich. Both of these gentlemen have earned their respective opportunities. Starting with the obvious, Vic Fangio has excelled as the Bears defensive coordinator these past four seasons. He inherited a unit coming off from the franchises worst season in history, and after some time along with a rebuilt depth chart, hes coached them into the monsters we see today. In all, Fangio has been coaching football since 1979, both in college and the NFL. Its worth mentioning he interviewed for the Bears job this past offseason prior to Matt Nagys arrival, too. Fangio has not been directly linked to any formal reports in regards to potential openings quite yet. More or less, his name has been mentioned by various commentators and analysts around the NFL. His most vocal supporter, in my opinion, has been Louis Riddick of ESPN. It wont surprise me whatsoever if Vic eventually receives multiple requests for interviews. Meanwhile, Mark Helfrich has been linked to at least one job opening in college already. The Bears offensive coordinator was recently identified as a candidate to the University of Colorados vacancy at head coach. The original report is from Adam Rittenberg of ESPN. Helfrich is currently in his first year as an offensive coordinator in the NFL, but he served as a head coach at Oregon for four seasons following Chip Kellys departure from their program. His tenure at Oregon was highlighted with an appearance at the inaugural College Football Championship Gamein 2014. That team was led by his Heisman Trophy winning quarterback in Marcus Mariota. The work hes done along with Dave Ragone and head coach Matt Nagy in developing the young Mitchell Trubisky has also garnered attention. The hope is both of these coaches remain with the Bears long after the 2018 season. Yet, in the event that either candidate earns an offer to be a head coach elsewhere, there are quality candidates to fill in for both the defensive and offensive coordinator jobs. Its never too early to look ahead on that subject. Potential Candidates for the defensive coordinator jobAs a disclaimer, all of these suggestions are 1) hypothetical and 2) contingent on if either coach does indeed move on for a promotion. With that mentioned, the defensive coordinator position would by far be the bigger priority, given that Matt Nagy controls the play calling on offense. Theyll need someone with experience calling plays on defense, and one that can handle the pressure of coaching a star studded unit. The first name that comes to my mind: Todd Bowles. Its fairly reasonable to suggest his career with the New York Jets will be coming to an end soon. Not only does he have experience calling plays on defense, he did an incredible job with both the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals. The biggest detail to discuss with Bowles, is his relationship with Matt Nagy; the two are fairly close friends. Bowles wanted to hire Matt Nagy for his offensive coordinator position a few years back