The Green Bay Packers have dominated the NFC North for the previous 10 seasons. They have won the division a total of seven times, while the Minnesota Vikings have won twice and the Chicago Bears won once.
The Detroit Lions have not won the division since 1993 and that drought looks like it will continue this season as a new regime looks to build the roster from the ground up.
This division is wide open as we head into the season, as all of the teams have some major question marks. What is the biggest question mark for each team?
Let’s take a look at one massive question that each team in the NFC North is facing heading into the 2021 NFL season.
Detroit Lions: Do They Have Enough At Wide Receiver?
The Lions are in the infancy stages of a rebuild. Longtime franchise icon Matthew Stafford was traded to the Los Angeles Rams this offseason to start a new era for the Lions. They have a new general manager in Brad Holmes and a new head coach in Dan Campbell.
They will be given time to build the roster in their image. At least they have a veteran quarterback in Jared Goff, who was acquired in the Stafford trade, to lead the team, but who will he be relying upon as his No. 1 target in the passing game?
The Lions saw bonafide No. 1 receiver Kenny Golladay leave in free agency, signing with the New York Giants. Marvin Jones also left, signing with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Atop the wide receiver depth chart right now is Tyrell Williams, who missed all of the 2020 season because of injury, and Breshad Perriman, who is playing on his fifth team in as many seasons.
Green Bay Packers: Will Aaron Rodgers Play In 2021?
This is not only the biggest question mark for the Green Bay Packers but possibly in the NFL. If Aaron Rodgers returns, the Packers are once again Super Bowl contenders. They have gone 13-3 in each of Matt LaFleur’s first two seasons as head coach and are well-positioned heading into 2021.
If Rodgers does sit out, things get a little more challenging. While they have a strong roster, Jordan Love, the presumed heir apparent to Rodgers, is untested. Blake Bortles is another uninspiring option on the roster.
If Rodgers plays, the Packers are the favorites to win the NFC North. If not, other teams will smell blood in the water and try taking advantage.
Chicago Bears: When Will Justin Fields Take Over?
The Chicago Bears were one of the biggest winners of the 2021 NFL Draft. They ended Justin Fields’ slide down the draft board, trading up to the No. 11 spot with the New York Giants to nab the Ohio State quarterback prospect.
Fields gives the Bears organization and their fans optimism. After Mitchell Trubisky flamed out, there is a lot of hope that Fields can be the franchise quarterback the Bears have been seeking for decades.
Now, the only question remaining is when will Fields take over as the starting quarterback? Chicago signed Andy Dalton in free agency to presumably be their starter, and they have veteran Nick Foles still on the roster as well.
It shouldn’t take long before Fields is under center, as he is the future of the franchise.
Minnesota Vikings: Can The Defense Return To Form?
When the Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to be their starting quarterback in 2018, they had Super Bowl aspirations. Unfortunately, the offense was never able to get over the hump until 2020 when they put everything together.
The Vikings had a high octane offense as Cousins aired it out to rookie Justin Jefferson and Adam Theilen. Dalvin Cook tore it up on the ground game as the team had their third-highest scoring season in franchise history. Minnesota ended up going 7-9 because their defense took a major step backward.
The Vikings had 475 points scored against them in 2020, the third-worst mark in franchise history. The pass rush was nonexistent, as the team registered a franchise-low 23 sacks. Finding a bookend for Danielle Hunter would also help the defense.
If the defense can get back to playing at an elite level, the Vikings will be a very serious contender to win the NFC North division title.