The first week of the 2021 NFL season is finally upon us as there are a ton of intriguing games to watch. When it comes to the NFC North, the most interesting game likely comes between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers will look to take down Jameis Winston and the Saints in Jacksonville, which is where the game will be played due to the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
The Detroit Lions will host the San Francisco 49ers in the first week of the season while the Minnesota Vikings will travel to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. Sunday’s action will be capped off with the Chicago Bears facing the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football at SoFi Stadium.
With each game in the NFC North being shared, how will each team in the division fare in Week 1?
The Bears will be the first team in the NFC North to be part of a night game in 2021 when they operate as the road team in Week 1 versus the Rams. Chicago will have Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback, which puts them at a disadvantage with Matthew Stafford now under center for Los Angeles. While the Bears have a talented front seven, their cornerbacks are going to have their hands full with the weapons of the Rams.
Also, Dalton could be in for a long game with Aaron Donald wreaking havoc on Chicago’s below-average offensive line. There’s a chance that we see the Bears get blown out by the Rams in the first Sunday Night Football game of the season.
Besides the Houston Texans, the Lions are expected to have one of the worst records in the NFL in 2021. Detroit’s new regime under Dan Campbell begins with a showdown against San Francisco at home. The Lions now have Jared Goff under center instead of Stafford, and the offense lacks receiving weapons outside of T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift.
Detroit is going to need time to adjust on both sides of the ball while San Francisco will have a steady rushing attack alongside Jimmy Garoppolo on offense. Even though Garoppolo can be prone to mistakes at times, I expect the 49ers to take care of business in Week 1 versus the Lions, possibly giving the NFC North two losses to begin the season.
Green Bay Packers
Entering the 2021 season, the Packers are viewed as a team that could compete for a spot in the Super Bowl in the NFC. Rodgers is back for at least one more season in Green Bay, which automatically puts them in contention in the NFC North. The Packers will get things started against the Saints, who will now have Winston at quarterback following the retirement of Drew Brees.
If Winston can clean up the turnover woes he’s had in his career, the offense in New Orleans could surprise some people. That being said, I don’t expect the Saints to be able to take down the Packers as Rodgers will want to prove that he’s the reigning NFL MVP for a reason.
The Vikings are an interesting team entering the upcoming season. Minnesota has talent on their roster, but can Kirk Cousins lead them to success under center? Also, outside of Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, the Vikings don’t have many pass-catching weapons. At the same time, Mike Zimmer is hoping for his defense to return to being one of the best groups in the NFL.
Despite the concerns that Minnesota has, they draw a favorable matchup against Cincinnati. Joe Burrow makes his first start since suffering a season-ending knee injury late last season, which could lead to a few mistakes by the offense of the Bengals. Even though I don’t envision the Vikings making much noise in the NFC North, I anticipate a victory from them in Week 1.