As recently as Monday morning, it would have been impossible to know who might win the NFC North this season because it wasn’t clear if Green Bay Packers superstar QB Aaron Rodgers was going to play this season. However, Rodgers and the team have buried the hatchet and he’s good to go. Thus, the Packers are clear favorites to win the division again.
Who will win the NFC North this season?Green Bay Packers (-120)
The Packers won the division by a mile last year and clearly are the best team again with Rodgers back – although this might be his final season with the Packers. Did you know that Rodgers will be the first Green Bay quarterback to last 17 seasons with the team? Both Brett Favre and Bart Starr made it 16. Rodgers admitted he considered retirement during his offseason-long standoff with the team. One key thing Rodgers wanted was a say in personnel moves: “I just want to be involved in conversations that affect my ability to do my job.” Rodgers already has gotten his way as the team has brought back receiver Randall Cobb, a Rodgers favorite, in a trade with the Houston Texans. Cobb who will turn 31 on Aug. 22, played his first eight seasons in Green Bay, where he was one of Rodgers’ go-to receivers — especially in the slot. Rodgers hasn’t had a true slot receiver since Cobb’s departure. Last year with Houston, Cobb suffered a toe injury in Week 11 last year and missed six games. He finished with 38 catches, 441 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow WR Devin Funchess is an X-factor after missing 15 games due to injury in 2019 and then opting out of 2020. He could provide a third-down and red-zone option like a second tight end.Minnesota Vikings (+200)
If Rodgers had stepped away this season, sportsbooks like MyBookie were set to price the Vikings as division favorites. Which Kirk Cousins will the Vikes get this year? At his best, he’s easily the second-best QB in the division. His record with the Vikings is 25-21-1, not what he or the team envisioned when he first signed with the team in 2018 for a fully guaranteed $84 million. Cousins finished with a career-high 35 touchdown passes in 2020 after a concerning early spate of turnovers. The Vikings really focused on defense this offseason as that unit was terrible in 2020. The return of Danielle Hunter and Michael Pierce in 2021 is a massive upgrade for Minnesota. Both missed the entire 2020 NFL season. Pierce is one of the best run-defending nose tackles in the league, and Hunter is one of the most gifted pass rushers on the edge. Additionally, the Vikings acquired future Hall of Fame cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency.Chicago Bears (+325)
How long until rookie first-round pick Justin Fields starts at QB? It won’t be Week 1 but veteran free-agent signing Andy Dalton: “In a perfect world, we’re continuing to win games with Andy, and Justin is developing. He’s getting better and better. Then, it just goes to … we’ll know when the time is right, and when it’s ready for the team and for us to put him in. It will all just naturally happen,” Coach Matt Nagy said when asked when Fields might take over. It certainly will depend on wins and losses – unless Dalton gets hurt. There’s some talent around Allen Robinson is a true No. 1 receiver. David Montgomery finished fourth among all running backs in forced missed tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus. No. 2 wideout Darnell Mooney and tight end Cole Kmet both played well as rookies and should improve in Year 2. Nagy said he sees Kmet’s role increasing in 2021. Kmet started his debut campaign slowly, failing to surpass two receptions in a single game until Week 12 but came on at the end.Detroit Lions (+1600)
The Lions are the lone NFC team to never play in a Super Bowl, and it’s not happening this year. Detroit is more likely to finish with the worst record in the league and the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft than even finish .500 under new head coach Dan Campbell and new starting QB Jared Goff. Goff takes over for franchise legend Matthew Stafford. After losing Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones in free agency, the receiver group is weak: highlighted by Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown. Second-year running back D’Andre Swift has the capability to become the Lions’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Reggie Bush in 2013. The defensive backs could be the worst group in football, especially if Jeff Okudah doesn’t have a big second-year leap after a disastrous rookie season.Expert Predicted Order Of FinishGreen Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit
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