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Thursday open thread: Who are NFC North favorites if Aaron Rodgers leaves Green Bay?

A big opportunity could be on the horizon for the non-Packers NFC North teams.

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NFL: JAN 03 Packers at Bears Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As of right now, the Green Bay Packers are heavy favorites to win the NFC North, and it’s pretty easy to see why. The Packers went 13-3 last year and were a game away from appearing in Super Bowl LV. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions are in full rebuild. The Minnesota Vikings are trying to recover from a disappointing 2019 season, but it’s hard to see exactly where they’ve improved after a cap-strapped offseason. The Chicago Bears saw a few coaches leave and will either be relying on a washed up quarterback or a rookie quarterback to lead the way.

Of course, there’s one huge factor that could change everything: the potential trade or retirement of Aaron Rodgers.

It’s been a little over a month since the news broke that Rodgers was demanding a trade, and neither side has budged. Some believed the June 1 designation would motivate the Packers to make a move—as it would ease their 2021 dead cap hit—but the latest from Green Bay suggests general manager Brian Gutenkunst has no plans of budging from his “will not” trade him stance.

But at some point something has got to give, so today’s Question of the Day is:

If Rodgers retires or is traded from the Packers, who becomes the NFC North favorite?

My answer:

We talked about this on last week’s Locker Room Q&A podcast, but I’ll expand my response here.

I think it’s the Minnesota Vikings. Last year was a big anomaly for the Vikings. Their defense finished 18th in DVOA and 29th in points allowed. Head coach Mike Zimmer said what we were all thinking last year: The is the worst defense I’ve ever had.

I don’t expect that to continue in 2021. Zimmer has proven time and time again that he can create a disruptive, game-changing defense seemingly out of nothing. They played most of 2020 without two of their key players: Danielle Hunter (zero games played) and Anthony Barr (2 games played). And while they didn’t add much this offseason that should strike fear in the rest of the division, getting those two back—plus the potential growth of their extremely young defense—gives them a fighting shot to have a big turnaround on that side of the ball.

And let’s not forget the Vikings have an understatedly potent offense. Yes, they appeared to try to get a quarterback in the first round of the draft (and did end up drafting one in the third round), but the Vikings have ranked eighth and 11th in scoring in the past two seasons. Minnesota still has one of the best running backs in the league and potentially the best young receiver in the game. By drafting Christian Darrisaw, they finally appear to be addressing that flaky offensive line.

Overall, the Vikings are just a well-rounded team that could legitimately see a rebound in 2021. I’m not predicting a deep playoff run or anything from Kirk Cousins and company, but in a weak division that could potentially lose the 2020 NFL MVP, the Vikings may be best suited to take advantage.

Your turn.


If Aaron Rodgers retires/is traded, who are the NFC North favorites?

This poll is closed

  • 42%
    (605 votes)
  • 12%
    (175 votes)
  • 13%
    (189 votes)
  • 31%
    (451 votes)
1420 votes total Vote Now