How Every Team Can Win Super Bowl LVI: NFC Northby Ryan Potts June 3, 2021 3 comments
As free agency and the draft approach, every team has some level of excitement. Some teams are looking to contend in 2021. Others only want to move in the right direction. However, the NFL is unique in that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl each season.
With as volatile as football can be, the smallest of breaks could launch a Super Bowl run. Even the 1-15 Jacksonville Jaguars could position themselves to be a contender. Unlikely? Sure, but football is unpredictable for a reason. There is a path for all 32 teams to win Super Bowl LVI.
Let’s continue with the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers head into the 2021 season with the best quarterback in the NFL, Aaron Rodgers. As long as Rodgers is at the helm, the Packers have a solid chance to win the Super Bowl. When Green Bay surrounds Rodgers with as much talent as he has right now, Green Bay should be one of the favorites in the NFC. As it stands, Rodgers has an All-Pro wide receiver in Davante Adams to throw the ball to and several Pro Bowlers on the offensive line including David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Offensively, Green Bay will be as good as it gets in the NFL.
Defensively, Green Bay has a bevy of Pro Bowlers. Starting on the defensive front, Kenny Clark, Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, and Rashan Gary are all exceptionally talented players. Sliding back to the linebackers, none of the names stand out as anything special, but Krys Barnes saw success as an undrafted rookie free agent. In the secondary, Green Bay could have three legitimate All-Pros with Jaire Alexander at cornerback and the safety duo of Darnell Savage and Adrian Amos. While Kevin King is a dark spot on the defense, first-round pick Eric Stokes should replace him early in the season. With Stokes in the lineup, the Packers will have one of the best secondaries in the NFL.
Assuming the Chicago Bears do the right thing and start Justin Fields Week 1, they should have a dynamic offense both on the ground and through the air. The ground game begins with David Montgomery, but expect Fields to get his and be one of the more productive rushing quarterbacks in the NFL. The passing game should flourish with Allen Robinson returning. Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet are holdovers from Chicago’s 2020 draft class that should be super productive in their sophomore seasons. This does hinge on the Bears making the right decision and starting Fields as early as possible, but the offense has the pieces to contend with competent quarterback play.
Defensively, the Bears are the Bears. Khalil Mack is one of the top 10 players in the NFL. Eddie Jackson, while not quite as good as the All-Pro he was in 2018, is spectacular safety and could force many turnovers. Roquan Smith is developing into one of the best linebackers in the NFL. With those three superstars on the field, the Bears will be in the situation of having three of the best four or five players on the field at any given time. While they do not have the depth they had in 2018, Chicago is still a stingy unit that can force turnovers left and right. With a Defensive Player of the Year kind of season from Mack, the Bears might be back on their way to having the No.1 defense in the NFL.
It may not seem like it, but the Minnesota Vikings could have the single best offense in the NFL if they play their cards right. Schematically, they have a devastating mix between the rushing game and the play-action pass. Through the triumvirate of Dalvin Cook, an elite run-blocking offensive line, and the aforementioned scheme, Minnesota should challenge Baltimore for having the best rushing attack in the NFL. When Kirk Cousins is making good decisions, he is a top-10 quarterback. With Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson as the main targets in the offense, the Vikings have a plethora of offensive talents. The offensive line may not be awesome, but they are a terrific run-blocking team, and schematically, they can clear up easy throws for Cousins.
The Vikings regressed significantly from 2019 to 2020, likely due to the COVID-19 situation in the 2020 season. With a full offseason and two solid defensive drafts in 2020 and 2021, the Vikings should be retooled. They have the best linebacker in the NFL in Eric Kendricks, and the defense returns the services of Danielle Hunter. When he was healthy in his first few seasons of the NFL, Hunter was a premier pass rusher. If he gets back to even 80% of his former self, the Vikings have a no-doubt Pro Bowler in the pass rush.
The secondary should improve mightily as Cameron Dantzler and Jeff Gladney enter their second seasons. Even with the loss of Anthony Harris to the Eagles, Minnesota should have a sturdy backend behind their improving defensive line. They added Dalvin Tomlinson from the New York Giants, and Michael Pierce returns from opting out of the 2020 season.
The Lions may only win a handful of games in this season. However, they might be more competitive than you first imagine. With a strong offensive line and potentially productive running game, the Lions could keep it close in many games. If enough of these games swing their way through the play of D’Andre Swift and Jared Goff, the Lions could manage to slip into the playoffs. The offensive line could be one of the best in the NFL. Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell are potential Pro Bowl tackles. Frank Ragnow is as good as it gets on the interior. Throw in some progression from T.J. Hockenson and Quintez Cephus, and the Lions could have enough juice to be decent offensively.
Defensively, the Lions will rely on growth from young pieces as their fading stars are on their last legs. Trey Flowers, Michael Brockers, Jamie Collins, and Quinton Dunbar are talented players, but for the Lions to compete in 2021, they will need the likes of Alim McNeill, Levi Onwuzurike, Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Jeff Okudah to play well. Okudah was the third pick in the 2020 draft, and he failed to live up to expectations in 2020. If he progresses as many expect him to, he could be a top coverage player. Melifonwu, McNeill, and Onwuzurike are second-day draft picks from the 2021 class. It may be unrealistic for them to be stars from Day 1. However, they would need to be productive for the Lions to contend for a Super Bowl.
Follow Ryan Potts on Twitter @MrSplashMan19
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