The Green Bay Packers have been dominant in the NFC North since Matt LaFleur became head coach.
In 2019, they won the division three games ahead of the Minnesota Vikings, who also made the playoffs. In 2020, the Packers were five games clear of the Chicago Bears for the division lead.
Can the other three teams close the gap? Here are our pre-training camp NFC North power rankings along with the biggest question for each team entering camp.
1. Green Bay Packers (Previous rank: 1)
Biggest question entering camp: What’s next for Aaron Rodgers?
We should soon have the answer to the Packers’ ongoing offseason question. What does the future hold for Aaron Rodgers?
The Packers hope he’ll return for training camp, but we’ll just have to wait to find out. If Rodgers makes his return, it’s bad news for the rest of the division, and the NFC. If he isn’t in attendance, it could mean he won’t play this season. Time for Jordan Love?
It’s been a long offseason but at least we’ll soon know what’s next for Rodgers. His future will determine whether the Packers are serious Super Bowl contenders or not.
2. Chicago Bears (Previous rank: 2)
Biggest question entering camp: Is Andy Dalton really the QB1?
The Bears were the Packers’ closest challengers last year but still fell five games short of first place. As ever, the QB position is under the spotlight in Chicago.
Back in March, they tweeted a picture of Andy Dalton in a Bears uniform with the caption “QB1”. That was before they traded up for Justin Fields in the first round.
For a coaching staff and front office under pressure, will they have the patience to stick with Dalton for now, or is Fields soon going to be starting in Chicago?
3. Minnesota Vikings (Previous rank: 3)
Biggest question entering camp: Will the Vikings bounce back?
Missed. Made playoffs. Missed. Made playoffs. Missed. Made playoffs. Missed.
I sense a pattern for the Vikings during the Mike Zimmer era. Every other year they make a playoff run then can’t back it up the following season. Well, the Vikings missed out last season so surely it’s time to bounce back?
Perhaps the only difference here is that it was their defense letting them down in 2020, a unit that had been consistently strong under Zimmer. If Zimmer gets the defense back on track, the Vikings could be playoff-bound once more.
4. Detroit Lions (Previous rank: 4)
Biggest question entering camp: Is this a new Lions?
The Lions have put together a good offseason on paper and new head coach Dan Campbell has said all the right things about the rebuild that’s underway. But now the real work begins.
Brian Flores only won five games in his first season with the Miami Dolphins, but you could see how he was building the team into a contender. Last year they doubled their win total.
The Lions will need to see something similar in Campbell’s first season. Nobody expects them to compete yet, but it’s about showing signs that they’re on the right track.