With or without Aaron Rodgers as this team’s starting quarterback, the Green Bay Packers still are the best team in the NFC North – Rodgers just puts them even further in front when he is a part of it. The 2021 season certainly will see new faces in new places across the division, and it will present Green Bay with a new look at its three divisional foes.
The Chicago Bears drafted their QB of the future in Justin Fields, the Detroit Lions went and grabbed a foundational piece at left tackle, and the Minnesota Vikings took a page out of the Lions’ draft book and took an offensive tackle of their own. With the Packers being the lone team to address defense with their first selection, it goes to show that these teams have different goals this year.
The following sections will list out what elements each team has that is a strength of theirs, potentially posing a slightly tougher task for the Packers to face this season.
Young offensive weapons
Looking at Fields, Allen Robinson, Darnell Mooney, David Montgomery, and Cole Kmet, this team certainly is set up for the future, even if Robinson does eventually leave due to the team never truly offering him a contract extension. Even if this team is not meeting current expectations, they certainly can play spoiler and have the firepower to do so.
Playing for what likely is the final chance for both HC Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace, this group of five young offensive players can form a solid core that should get to work together at some point this season, depending on how quickly Fields takes the reins from Andy Dalton. Robinson is obviously one of the better WRs in the league, but Mooney’s deep-ball abilities certainly should be on display this year when Fields is under center.
Montgomery received a regular workload last season and exploded onto the scene, and Kmet keeps earning mosnaps and cutting in to old ‘friend’ Jimmy Graham’s work, meaning that this group certainly could pose an issue for the Packers this year.
Defensive front seven
With the trade of Matthew Stafford this offseason, the Lions finally leaned fully into the rebuilding process – with a few pillars to build around on the maligned offense, their defense is the stronger unit that should be expected to shoulder more of the load this year.
The front seven, an area built by former HC Matt Patricia, is stocked with former Patriot talent and studs, and doing anything against them is a tough act to carry out. With Michael Brockers and rookie Levi Onwuzurike on the line, with Jamie Collins and Trey Flowers in the LB group, the front seven for Detroit certainly is a tough group to handle.
Having to likely play from behind most games this year as Jared Goff has no one to throw the ball to, this defense may look worse than it really is – but don’t be mistaken, this unit can take over a game if need be, and it will need to with how bad their secondary is.
QB Kirk Cousins has flown under the radar for most of his career, and his stats last season were as consistent as they have ever been, showing his comfortability in this offense. Surrounded by RB Dalvin Cook and WRs Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, there certainly is a lot of firepower expected out of this unit.
Cook was back on his regular workload last year, seemingly looking like his old self without any serious injuries. His return was aided by the breakout of Jefferson in his rookie season, as the LSU product showed why he should have never fallen in last year’s draft.
The Vikings have always been and will continue to be the biggest thorn in the side of the Packers, and their offense has a lot to do with that – if Green Bay can shut down even one of these players in their two matchups, then they stand a good chance to win key divisional games in this extended 17-game slate.뿓뿓뿓
Mike Johrendt has been an avid fan of the Packers ever since he can remember. He is now a writer at PackersTalk and you can follow him on Twitter at @MJohrendt23