Predicting the NFC North standings for the 2021 season

NFC North
NFL Analysis Network

The NFC North has been dominated by the Green Bay Packers for most of the last decade. They have won the division in seven of the last 10 years and two in a row; will they make it three in 2021?

The other teams in the division will be ready to take advantage of the Packers slip-up at all this season. How might things shake out? Check out our predictions for the NFC North standings in 2021.

4. Detroit Lions

The Lions are entering a rebuilding stage. They have a new general manager in the front office and a new head coach on the sidelines. Long-time starting quarterback Matthew Stafford is now with the Los Angeles Rams, as it is the dawn of a new era in the Motor City.

The Lions did get Jared Goff in the deal for Stafford, but this team will need some time before it is built up into a contender. They will bring up the rear in the NFC North as Brad Holmes and Dan Campbell go through their first season working together.

At this time next year, we could be talking about the Lions preparing a top pick to take over as their starting quarterback for the 2022 season.

3. Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings look like they have finally turned a corner with their offense in 2020. Kirk Cousins had a great season, taking advantage of two dynamic wide receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. His pass-catching group will be even more dynamic in 2021 with Irv Smith Jr. expected to take on a bigger role at tight end. And don’t forget they have one of the best running backs in the league in Dalvin Cook.

However, their defense was unable to get the job done in 2020, did they do enough in the offseason to make strides in 2021? Minnesota still lacks a viable pass-rushing option opposite of Danielle Hunter after having a franchise-low 23 total sacks last season.

Relying on the offense to win shootouts every week will be difficult even with how good they look on paper, resulting in a third-place finish in the NFC North in 2021.

2. Green Bay Packers

The question looming over the Green Bay Packers as we head toward training camp and the regular season is what will happen with Aaron Rodgers? He is still not with the team and it is anyone’s guess what will happen.

The Packers roster is good enough to still contend whether or not Rodgers is under center. They have an impressive group of skill position players on offense and a deep, talented defense that will be better in 2021.

But, without Rodgers leading the way, they will lack some intimidation. When teams see him across the sideline, they know it will be a long afternoon. Jordan Love and Blake Bortles don’t instill that kind of fear and the Packers will fall short of the division title if Rodgers doesn’t suit up.

1. Chicago Bears

Fans of the Chicago Bears are buzzing after the team was able to land Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft. Chicago had to trade multiple picks to trade up with the New York Giants, but they now have a franchise quarterback that should help transform their offense.

While Matt Nagy has said Andy Dalton will be the team’s starting quarterback in Week 1, it is only a matter of time until Fields takes over. Having a veteran such as Allen Robinson to throw the ball for a young player is a luxury, not all are afforded. Chicago also boasts a strong running game with David Montgomery, Damien Williams and Tarik Cohen.

Defensively there is a lot of talent as well. Led by Khalil Mack, this unit will return to performing at the level they are capable of and help get the franchise’s first NFC North division title since 2018.