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The 2021 Super Bowl Contenders and Pretenders among the NFL teams in the NFC

Green Bay Packers huddle before a play. Photo by Moe Epsilon

The NFL is divided into two conferences, the NFC and the AFC, and on February 7th, 2021 we will see the champions of each division battle to take the Vince Lombardi Trophy Home in a long-awaited matchup. Now that the second half of the NFL season has started, Super Bowl LV is not too far away and in the very competitive NFC, it is still unclear which team will make it onto the field that championship day and which teams will be watching from home. Here’s a breakdown of the NFC teams that I believe will take the seven playoff slots and which are pretenders, the ones that aren’t Super Bowl teams, and contenders and the ones that are. 

  1. Packers – Contenders

The Packers coming into this season weren’t seen as a threat. Aaron Rodgers was put into the category of quarterbacks that are too old to lead an offense, but he proved the doubters wrong. Rodgers is one of the best, most consistent, and strong-armed quarterbacks in the league. He continues to perform at an elite level and the Packers will be able to make their way to the Super Bowl as long as he continues to be as consistent as he has been all season. Rodgers is also an experienced playoff quarterback, and because of that, I see them getting far in the playoffs. 

  1. Seahawks – Pretenders

Offensively, the Seahawks are a top 3 team. They can find themselves in the endzone very easily, and put up many yards per game. The quarterback of the team, Russell Wilson, and the receiving core of the Seahawks make it almost impossible for any defense to get close to stopping them. However, they aren’t contenders because their defense is weak, and it seems as though when they are up against teams with even an average offense, they can’t stop them. Their strong offense can’t make up for their lack of defense and when it comes time for the playoffs, they most likely won’t make it very far because of that.

  1. Cardinals – Contenders

The Cardinals are a team full of young talent and a handful of experienced older players. They are an extremely clutch team that has coaches who set up well-thought-out plays and utilize their players so that they can each reach their full potential. Over these past couple of weeks, we have seen them display an amazing offense and a solid defense. They previously beat the well-balanced Bills, as well as the rising Patriots, and they look like they are only getting better. Kyler Murray, the quarterback of the team, is one of the front runners for the NFL MVP award, and with a good receiving core, he is unstoppable. Even if the Cardinals don’t make it all the way this year, it’s possible that in the near future, they will. 

  1. Eagles – Pretenders

It’s hard to say many good things about the Eagles. They are only making the playoffs because they are in the NFC East, also known as the NFC Least. There is not a single team in the NFC East that has a winning record. The Eagles have a bad offense and an even worse defense. They don’t have good players to lead on the offensive end and the defense can’t seem to work up enough motivation on the field. They are poorly coached and lose to bad teams. When it comes time for the playoffs, they likely won’t make it past the first round and will find themselves embarrassed by their performance. 

  1. Rams – Contenders

The Rams continue to amaze many with their unstoppable defense. They have an outstanding defensive line and secondary. They leave quarterbacks with few passing yards, running backs with little-to-no rushing yards and wide-receivers with zero catches. No matter how much opposing teams prepare, nothing seems to make it easier for the opposing teams when they have to go up against the Rams defense. Along with the defense, the Rams have a good offense that includes a variety of solid running backs, a good receiving core and an average o-line. If the offense continues to improve with the defense performing at the level they are now, then the Rams have a really good chance of winning it all.  

  1. Saints – Pretenders

The Saints are the most balanced team in the league when their players are healthy. However, many of the team’s most important players have faced too many injuries for me to be confident in their abilities to keep themselves a contending Super Bowl team. The Saints do look good this year, but not as good as they did in the last couple of years. In the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 season, the Saints finished off both seasons with a 13-3 record, but when it came time for the playoffs, they never made it past the NFC Championship Game. If the Saints couldn’t make it to the Super Bowl with a healthy team in previous years, then they won’t be able to make the Super Bowl with their injured team now. 

  1. Buccaneers – Contenders

The Buccaneers were a hot topic coming into this season after getting Tom Brady on their team. Some NFL fans said they were contenders and others said they were over-hyped. Personally, I thought that the Buccaneers were not going to be a good team because every player has a different play-style offensively, and I thought they wouldn’t work well together on the field. However, the play-calling has worked well for the offense as they have been doing a combination of play-action passing that Brady is successful at and using the run offense just as much as the passing offense. Defensively, the Buccaneers are one of the best in the league. This team has proved that they are worth the hype. 

The NFL is a very unpredictable league, as any team can surprise everyone at any moment. We can only predict how these playoffs will turn out and there are still a lot of teams in the fight for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, so I will keep my mind open as the NFL season comes to an end. 

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