With the juggernauts of the AFC in the Chiefs and even teams like the Buffalo Bills, the NFC kind of has been brushed off as far as who can compete overall. The only exception to that narrative would obviously be the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Besides them, the NFC is a toss-up for who will run the NFC in the 2021 season.
With plenty of off-season movement and the draft, I think most will come to find that the NFC will have some solid teams in 2021. I think the best way to separate these teams would be a power ranking, those are always fun. Let’s take a look at who will be the top contenders in the NFC in the 2021-22 season.
16.) Detroit Lions: 5-12 in 2021-22
It is a new era in Detroit, per se, as they welcome in a new head coach, general manager, and quarterback in Jared Goff. The Lions managed to pick up some solid draft choices, but the Lions are in rebuild mode still. Goff will need a year, or two to get used to the new playbook and system overall. The new head coach and GM will need to build a better culture. The Lions are a few seasons away, I would say, from being anywhere near the top ten in the NFC.
15.) Carolina Panthers: 5-12 in 2021-22
Yet another example of a team in a sort of rebuild mode, Carolina welcomes in a new quarterback in Sam Darnold. Darnold was traded away from the Jets as they prepared to bring in Zach Wilson, so this season will need to be a solid bounce-back year for him. Unfortunately for Carolina, they are going to be at the bottom of this division for another year unless Darnold and Christian McCaffrey can manage something spectacular.
14.) Philadelphia Eagles: 5-12 in 2021-22
Jalen Hurts is the new man in town with Carson Wentz traded to the Colts. Philly went out and got Hurts a solid former teammate of his in Devonta Smith to play wide receiver. However, the Eagles have holes in a few too many key positions, and those will prove to be a problem. Philly and the Giants will be competing for the bottom of the NFC East.
13.) New York Giants: 6-11 in 2021-22
The Giants probably had one of the best off-seasons in the NFL with the additions they made on the offensive line and landing star receiver Kenny Golladay in free agency. However, all those big moves to assist Daniel Jones means he has to win games and prove he is their guy moving forward. The Giants are going to have to take a big leap in production to even come close to winning the division.
12.) Chicago Bears: 9-8 in 2021-22
Chicago made a smart move by picking up Justin Fields via the draft and only time will tell if he makes an impact this year if he even starts a game. The Bears also managed to keep Allen Robinson II around for another year with the franchise tag. The success of the Bears is honestly going to depend on who is under center and can produce better. Until Chicago knows that, they will sit around the .500 mark.
11.) Atlanta Falcons: 10-7 in 2021-22
Atlanta has committed to Matt Ryan as their quarterback and the “win now” mentality. They picked up arguably one of the best tight ends to come out of college in the last decade in Kyle Pitts. I am sure Matt Ryan is happy to add an offensive weapon after losing Julio Jones to keep the offense rolling. Overall, Atlanta should be able to compete for the division just have to win the close games they failed to do so in last season.
10.) New Orleans Saints: 11-6 in 2021-22
The days of Drew Brees are over and gone now, and the quarterback spot turns to Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston. If New Orleans hopes to continue to compete, they should start Jameis Winston. If Taysom Hill is under center, then the Falcons and Saints should switch ranking spots with Atlanta. There is going to be a lot of pressure on either quarterback, but that is the situation at hand with Brees retired. Good luck, New Orleans.
9.) Minnesota Vikings: 11-6 in 2021-22
Minnesota has had one of the better off-seasons in the NFC North. They managed to bulk up their offensive line to protect Kirk Cousins a little bit better and added some solid defensive weapons as well. If Aaron Rodgers is not playing this year, this could be the year for Minnesota to become “Kings Of the North” and Mike Zimmer wants that title badly. Minnesota could be a solid playoff team for sure.
8.) Washington Football Team: 10-7 in 2021-22
Washington is going to compete for the NFC East purely because they will keep the score low with their stingy defense. With Alex Smith retiring, the Ryan Fitzmagic, sorry… Fitzpatrick era has begun and that is enough experience to run the Washington offense. They also added a dynamic tool player on offense in Curtis Samuel via free agency, so this Washington team will be one to watch in the NFC East.
7.) Dallas Cowboys: 11-6 in 2021-22
It would only make sense to have the two biggest competitors for the NFC East next to each other in the rankings considering they will probably have similar seasons. Dallas went heavy on defense in the draft and rightfully so as that was the weak end of the team.
However, if those players do not immediately make games more manageable for the offense to compete in, it will be all for nothing. The biggest thing Dallas did this off-season was resigned Dak Prescott to his mega-deal and gotten him back to full health. If Dallas can stay healthy and the defense can limit the opposing teams, Dallas should be able to compete or even win the division in 2021.
6.) Seattle Seahawks: 11-6 in 2021-22
Seattle had a rather quiet off-season overall, but in that quiet off-season, they did bring in former Dallas Cowboy defensive end, Aldon Smith, as well as some offensive line help in Kyle Fuller. The Seahawks are going to compete every year that Russell Wilson is on his game, and they will need it in 2021. The NFC West is going to be the best division in the NFC this next season, so all hands are on deck and needed from the Seahawks.
5.) Green Bay Packers: 12-5 in 2021-22
If Aaron Rodgers is under center, Green Bay is one of the best teams in the NFL, not just the NFC. If Rodgers is a no-show in the 2021 season, you might as well flip their position on this list with Minnesota and hand the Vikings the division. Keep an eye on the North to see what situation Green Bay is in once regular-season time approaches.
4.) Los Angeles Rams: 12-5 in 2021-22
This is probably one of the hotter picks especially this high in the rankings but I fully believe the Rams will be impressive this season. LA made the trade for Matthew Stafford and is looking to now be back in the playoff mix. With the addition of Stafford alongside the already strong defense, the Rams could easily compete for the division overall. Keep an eye on this Rams team.
3.) Arizona Cardinals: 12-5 in 2021-22
The Cardinals have made big splashes in the free-agent market to put themselves into serious playoff contenders. With the additions of Pro Bowlers J.J. Watt, A.J. Green, Rodney Hudson Malcolm Butler, and kicker Matt Prater, Arizona is going to be good. They struggled in close games last season that would have propelled them further in the standings, and these off-season moves should do the trick. The Cardinals could easily compete for the division title in 2021.
2.) San Francisco 49ers: 13-4 in 2021-22
The 49ers did not make huge off-season moves, rather they got all of their injured players back to full strength. Jimmy Garoppolo will more than likely be under center as it will be too much to ask Trey Lance to win games immediately in this tough division.
Nevertheless, a healthy 49ers team will win this division. It will be tough, and there is good competition; just look at the last three teams on this ranking, but the 49ers have the team to do it.
1.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 13-4 in 2021-22
First, the Chiefs brought back 21 out of 22 Super Bowl starters after they won it all, and now the Bucs have done one better by returning their entire starting team, yes all 22 of them, and look to repeat. With Tom Brady at the helm of this dangerous Bucs squad, they will easily be competing for the NFC overall again this season.
It is difficult to repeat as champions in the modern NFL but if anyone can do it, why not Tom Brady and the Bucs. Run it back with Kansas City for round two of a Super Bowl!
Thank you for joining my ted talk on the rankings for the ever so mysterious NFC. The NFC is going to have some good teams this season and I think can once again produce a Super Bowl champion if they play their cards right.
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