The NFC North has been one of the most interesting divisions to watch this offseason as they’ve made some of the biggest changes within their individual teams. The division has featured coaching changes, marquee free agent additions, and its fair share of drama, but one thing stands for certain, it will be entertaining to watch how this division unfolds throughout the season.
Let’s dive into our early outlook on how the NFC North will rank following the 2021 season.
First Place: Green Bay Packers
I’m going to put the Green Bay Packers at the top of the NFC North yet again, but that’s as long as Aaron Rodgers is still a member of the team. If for some reason Rodgers is indeed traded or sits out, I don’t think the Packers sniff the top spot of the division. All eyes are on the Rodgers situation, but the Packers have a ton of great talent on the roster to compliment Rodgers as well.
The Packers were a game away from playing in the Super Bowl last season, so the fact that they managed to retain the majority of their roster and the fact that they currently still have their MVP quarterback paving the way could have major implications on helping the Packers get right back to that point. I also really like the Amari Rodgers draft pick for the Packers during the NFL Draft and he could be the versatile weapon the Green bay offense is lacking.
All in all, as long as Rodgers is in Green Bay, they’re my favorites to win the division.
Second Place: Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears, in my opinion, could really push the Packers for the top spot in the NFC North this upcoming season, but they may have to settle with second place. The Bears made some major, and potentially career saving, moves this offseason and they made major strides in proving they can be a top contender in the NFC for years to come.
Every football fan not in the NFC North loves the Bears’ addition of Justin Fields during the NFL Draft and they also added some additional insurance with the additions of Teven Jenkins, Desmond Trufant, and Damien Williams. The Bears are in a good position to compete in the NFC as a whole and they proved that they plan to do that with their offseason additions.
If all goes as planned, Chicago could be at the top of the division. Until they prove otherwise, however, I’ll give them the second spot in the standings for 2021.
Third Place: Minnesota Vikings
The Minnesota Vikings have a very solid offense and that could carry them to a top three spot in the NFC North standings. Kirk Cousins is still under center for the Vikings, which can be seen in either positive or negative light, and they will be returning their pair of dominant receivers to help him out. The Vikings need work on the defensive side of the ball, and that will be the biggest factor in determining their success in 2021.
The Vikings made some moves this offseason, but their offseason was headlined by the addition of cornerback Patrick Peterson. Peterson is going to anchor the Minnesota secondary while they try to keep opponent’s points off the board. The Vikings are going to have to hope Cousins can drive the ball down the field more consistently and get the ball into the hands of the playmakers all over the field.
However, Minnesota must be questioning how much longer they have with Cousins due to their extreme effort to draft Justin Fields and their surprising selection of Kellen Mond during the NFL Draft. I don’t think the Vikings will see extended success in 2021 and that is why I have them in my third spot in the NFC North rankings.
Fourth Place: Detroit Lions
I love the Detroit Lions and the way that they’ve approached their rebuild, but I don’t think they’ll see immediate success. The Lions are going to need a few years before they are able to dethrone the Packers atop the division, and that’s the main reason I have them ranked in the final spot in the NFC North.
I’m not a firm believer that Jared Goff will be anywhere near as productive as Matthew Stafford was for the Lions, so that wasn’t a great addition in my opinion. Other than that, I have nothing but positive things to say about the Lions.
Detroit made some great additions this offseason with Penei Sewell, Breshad Perriman, and Amon-Ra St Brown all joining the roster on the offensive side of the ball and they could see some success that’s greater than what they have in recent years. I think the Lions will show a lot of improvement, but I think they’ll need a couple years before they are considered NFC North contenders.