2021 NFL: NFC North Division Preview

by Wayne Root

Green Bay Packers, Win total: 10.5

The Packers are coming off a season in which they finished 13-3 for the top spot in the NFC but fell short in the conference championship game. Green Bay will have a bit of turnover with this roster, but Aaron Rodgers remains one of the best players in the NFL coming off another MVP season. The Packers have a pretty rough schedule, but getting to 11 wins in a 17-game regular season should be doable assuming a healthy Rodgers.

Coach Matt LaFleur
QB Aaron Rodgers
RB Aaron Jones
Defense : Kenny Clark, Za’Darius Smith, Jaire Alexander

I think as long as Rodgers plays in Green Bay, he has a great shot at seeing continued success. I think Rodgers will start all 17 games for the Packers, sport a 13-4 win-loss record, and complete around 62.4 percent of his passes. I also believe that Rodgers will toss 34 touchdowns and six interceptions, while racking up 4,200 passing yards.

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Minnesota Vikings, Win total: 8.5

Minnesota went 7-9 last season, falling a game short of the playoffs. The Vikings ranked fourth in the NFL last season in yards per play on offense, as they developed an incredible wide receiver combination with Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. However, they really struggled on the defensive side of the ball in 2020. They allowed 6.1 yards per play, which ranked No. 27 in the NFL. Minnesota likely overpaid for Patrick Peterson to help out at the cornerback position, but will he be enough to turn around that defense? I have my doubts.

Coach Mike Zimmer
QB Kirk Cousins
RB Dalvin Cook
Defense: Dalvin Tomlinson, Eric Kendricks, Patrick Peterson

While Cousins has some knocks, he does deserve more credit as one of the most consistent signal callers in the league, which is certainly difficult to find these days. My projected stat line for Kirk Cousins looks like this: 8-9 record, 67.2 completion percentage, 28 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and 4,687 passing yards.

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Chicago Bears, Win total: 7

The Bears made it to the playoffs at 8-8 last season before being bounced in the Wild Card round against the New Orleans Saints. Chicago has been a bit of a punching bag this offseason after speculation of them trying to bring in Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson, which is now a blessing in disguise. Instead, the Bears will ride with Andy Dalton, who is certainly an upgrade over the Nick Foles-Mitch Trubisky combination from last season. With a good defense and an improved quarterback situation, there is no reason to think this franchise will regress.


Coach Matt Nagy
QB Justin Fields, Andy Dalton
RB David Montgomery
Defense: Akiem Hicks, Khalil Mack, Roquan Smith

I think Dalton will ultimately end up being replaced by Justin Fields at some point, and I think he’ll only start about six games for the Bears before the transition takes place. My projected stat line for Dalton has him completing about 62 percent of his passes for 1,864 passing yards with a touchdown to interception ratio of 7:5. I think Dalton will break even with a 3-3 record during that span as well.

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Detroit Lions, Win total: 5
 
The Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams completed the rare starting quarterback for starting quarterback trade with Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff. I’m probably a bigger Stafford fan than most, but Goff along with draft picks was a good move for the franchise moving forward. We’ll see if new head coach Dan Campbell is the answer for the long term success of this team, but he can motivate this team to play hard and reach five victories in Year 1 especially going up against a weaker schedule.
 
Coach Dan Campbell 
QB Jared Goff
RB D’Andre Swift
Defense: Will Harris, Corn Elder, John Penisini
 
It’s hard to predict what Goff will do in his first season in Detroit, as the team doesn’t have a lot of good weapons for Goff to throw the ball to. My stat line for Goff looks like this: 5-12 record, 61.6 completion percentage, 3,941 passing yards, 22 passing touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. Detroit won’t be a contender in the NFC North this year.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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