How Every NFC North Team Can Win Super Bowl LVIIby Ryan Potts March 31, 2022 1 comment
With free agency in progress and the 2022 NFL Draft approaching, franchises all have a level of excitement. Some are looking to contend this season, while others just want to move in the right direction. The league is unique in that every team has a chance to win the Super Bowl each season. The NFL can be volatile, and the smallest of breaks could launch a championship run, as exemplified by the Cincinnati Bengals last season. It may be unlikely to happen again, but football is unpredictable for a reason. There is a path for all 32 teams to win Super Bowl LVII.
Today, that path is for teams in the NFC North.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have managed to string together three 13-win seasons since Matt LaFleur took the helm. It has coincided with a pair of Aaron Rodgers MVP wins. While these seasons have not ended with even a Super Bowl appearance let alone a win, the Packers are always competing. At the very least, making the playoffs every season gives the Packers a shot, and when Rodgers is the quarterback, that is valuable. For the Packers to make and win the Super Bowl, they just need to make the playoffs and let Rodgers work his magic.
The offense should be among the best in the NFL even with Davante Adams on the Las Vegas Raiders. While Adams is out, All-Pro David Bakhtiari is returning in full form. Elgton Jenkins is also returning along the offensive line. Rodgers’ numbers might dip without Adams, but the Packers have more than enough draft capital to nab Rodgers’ favorite option and enter 2022 with a rookie stud receiver. The Packers can also grab a tight end in the draft and revitalize their receiving corps. The offensive line and running game are strong, and any receiver reinforcements will only help Rodgers.
Defensively, the Packers have stars – if not superstars – on all three levels. Rashan Gary and De’Vondre Campbell were massive breakout stars in 2021. Jaire Alexander missed a lot of the season, but he is healthy entering 2022. Adrian Amos, Darnell Savage, and Preston Smith are also strong players. Eric Stokes had a solid rookie season, and he should improve in Year 2. The Packers might not have an elite defense, but they do have one of the more well-rounded units in the NFL. It is more than good enough to win a Super Bowl.
The Vikings check off most of the boxes needed for a Super Bowl team. They have an offensive trump card in the form of Justin Jefferson. Dalvin Cook might be the best No. 2 option in any offense in the NFL. For as much hate Kirk Cousins gets from the media, he is rarely the problem. Even the offensive line is generally competent. The Vikings are one of just four teams to score 400 points in each of the last three seasons joining the Kansas City Chiefs, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Tennessee Titans.
The problem in the Cousins era has been the defense. While the Vikings have a trio of 400-point seasons, they have had a negative point differential in two of them. Of the 36 combined seasons with 400 points by the other 31 teams since 2019, 34 have featured a positive point differential. However, the defense has the pieces to be an improved unit in 2022. Harrison Smith and Eric Kendricks are the incumbent stars, but Danielle Hunter will be back in the fold after missing half of 2021. Additionally, the Vikings nabbed Za’Darius Smith and Jordan Hicks in free agency.
The Vikings are one of the teams that are their worst enemy. However, they have the talent on both sides of the ball to compete in the NFC North and make a run if they make the playoffs. The Cousins to Jefferson connection can take over games and just making the playoffs would give the Vikings a real shot at winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl. Throw in the defensive studs, and the Vikings could surprise people en route to a deep playoff run.
The Bears’ Super Bowl chances rest squarely on Justin Fields. However, the second-year man out of Ohio State could be up to the challenge. As a rookie, he had a flair for the spectacular, posting the same big-time throw rate as Rodgers and Russell Wilson. Only Kyler Murray had more big-time throws at a higher clip than fields. Fields also flashed tremendous rushing ability, and he should be much more comfortable in his second season in the NFL. He also will have a surrounding offense that better fits his unique skillset, so it might be time to invest in Fields’ futures bets.
The defense is not quite what it was in 2018, but their scoring defense was deflated by three main factors: offensive ineptitude, offensive giveaways, and the defense’s inability to force turnovers. If the Bears’ turnover differential creeps back to average, they will be significantly better than 6-11. After Khalil Mack played seven games in 2021, the Bears dealt him to the Los Angeles Chargers, so the Bears should get solid value out of a declining star. Speaking of stars, the Bears have cornerstone pieces in Roquan Smith and Jaylon Johnson with veterans such as Robert Quinn and Eddie Jackson still contributing.
To win the Super Bowl, the Bears will need Fields to make reasonable improvements. However, if Fields just reduces his turnovers, the Bears will have a natural progression that could put them in a playoff spot. With a quarterback as volatile as Fields, a do-or-die playoff game could be a nightmare for the Bears’ potential opponents. Throw in offensive weapons including David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney, and the Bears will be a tough matchup.
The Lions are moving in the right direction. However, Super Bowl 57 is a long way away considering the current roster construction. However, the Lions have a lottery ticket known as the No. 2 pick in the draft. If they were to use this pick on a quarterback, and the quarterback hits, they could be good as soon as 2022. The same rule might apply even better if the Lions draft a quarterback with the No. 32 pick after drafting a blue-chip prospect with the No. 2 pick. The Lions already have one of the better offensive lines in the NFL, and they have built up a solid group of weapons.
While the offense could be ready for a jump, the defense is still missing pieces. However, the Lions have three picks in the first 34 picks of the draft. In this universe, they can pick up two defensive studs as well as a quarterback. Aidan Hutchinson would be a slam dunk with the second pick, and the Lions could get a defensive back at the top of the second round. If those two players hit, the Lions might get good quickly.
The interesting nuance with the Lions is that they have a trump card of an offensive line. They have two stud tackles and an all-world center. Even the guards are passable. This gives the Lions the potential to have one of the highest floors in the league. If the quarterback brings some extra value and does not turn the ball over, the Lions could have a surprisingly good offense. The defense will still be an issue, but winning in the trenches is still imperative in the modern NFL.