ADVERTISEMENT

Homenfl

Scott Shapiro's 2021 NFC preview: Rodgers has sights set on Super Bowl

Profile Picture: Scott Shapiro

August 24th, 2021

Last week, I previewed the four AFC divisions and provided the future wagers I have jumped on, as well as my bet, based on value, to capture the Lamar Hunt Trophy in the 2021-2022 season.

Now it's time to dive into the NFC, where the defending champions are favored (+300) to make it back to the Super Bowl, in Tom Brady’s second year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NFC Championship 2021/2022

Sun, January 30 2022, 5:00 PM

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

+300

Green Bay Packers

+550

Los Angeles Rams

+650

San Francisco 49ers

+650

Seattle Seahawks

+1100

Dallas Cowboys

+1500

New Orleans Saints

+1600

Arizona Cardinals

+2200

Minnesota Vikings

+2200

Washington Football Team

+2500

NFC East

NFC East 2021/2022

Sun, January 9 2022, 6:00 PM

Dallas Cowboys

+150

Washington Football Team

+220

New York Giants

+375

Philadelphia Eagles

+500

With Dak Prescott set to return to the huddle, after he missed the majority of last season with an ankle injury, the Cowboys are favored to win the NFC East in head coach Mike McCarthy’s second season.

With a healthy Prescott, the Dallas offense should be among the league’s best. The 
Cowboys have a solid offensive line, a strong running back tandem (Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard), and perhaps the best trio of wide receivers in the NFL (Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb, and Michael Gallup).

The issue, though, remains the defense.

The Dallas defense may improve, to an extent, with Dan Quinn now the defensive coordinator, but I still struggle to see the Cowboys taking a big step forward. That makes them difficult to endorse as the betting favorite. They are overvalued in all betting markets.

The Washington Football Team appears primed for a big season, after it captured one of the worst divisions in NFL history last year, with a losing record.

Ron Rivera’s squad should once again boast one of the league’s best defenses, led by defensive end Chase Young.

The difference this year for Washington is the offense.

Ryan Fitzpatrick is not Patrick Mahomes, but he is a major quarterback upgrade for a team that struggled to score points last year. Look for Fitzpatrick to get much more out of third-year wide receiver Terry McLaurin and for Antonio Gibson to take a step forward as Washington's lead back.

NFC East plays

  • 2 units Washington to win NFC East (+220)
  • 1 unit Cowboys Under 9.5 wins (-152)
  • 2 units Washington Over 8 wins (-141)

NFC North

NFC North 2021/2022

Sun, January 9 2022, 6:00 PM

Green Bay Packers

-177

Minnesota Vikings

+300

Chicago Bears

+550

Detroit Lions

+2500

I am swallowing the chalk in what is likely to be Aaron Rodgers' final season in Green Bay.

The Packers once again should have one of the league’s best offenses, and the rest of the division lacks any exciting alternatives.

Sure, Minnesota’s defense should be better than a season ago, and the Bears are likely to improve on offense, once they insert rookie Justin Fields into the starting lineup, but neither team did enough in the offseason to come close to matching Green Bay’s roster.

Look for another special year from the Rodgers-Davante Adams connection, en route to another division title.

NFC North plays

  • 2 units Packers to win NFC North (-177)
  • 1 unit Lions Over 5 wins (+105)

NFC South

NFC South 2021/2022

Sun, January 9 2022, 6:00 PM

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

-200

New Orleans Saints

+350

Atlanta Falcons

+800

Carolina Panthers

+1100

Much like the NFC North, it is hard to make a case against the favorite. The Buccaneers took a little while to get on the same page a season ago, but once they did, they were the best team in the conference.

Now, for the first time in the salary-cap era, Tampa Bay will return all 22 starters, and the franchise will attempt to win back-to-back Super Bowls for the first time since the Patriots did it in 2004 and 2005. The Bucs are stacked and led by the greatest quarterback in NFL history.

The Saints defense should be among the NFL’s best, but the New Orleans offense is likely to take at least a step or two backward in the wake of Drew Brees' retirement and Michael Thomas' ankle injury.

The Saints' price as the second choice in the NFC South is not attractive. If I had to make a play on a price option, it would be with Carolina, which should improve on defense and will get Christian McCaffrey back.

But it's too much to ask for Carolina to jump up and finish ahead of Tampa. I will pass on the divisional futures and make a small play on Matt Rhule’s team to improve in his second year.

NFC South play

  • 1 unit Panthers Over 7.5 wins (+105)

NFC West

NFC West 2021/2022

Sun, January 9 2022, 6:00 PM

Los Angeles Rams

+200

San Francisco 49ers

+200

Seattle Seahawks

+275

Arizona Cardinals

+600

The NFC West may not represent the conference in the Super Bowl this year, but it is by far the strongest division from top to bottom.

The Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks all head into the season as legitimate contenders, and the Cardinals could be better than expected, with veteran additions on both sides of the ball and Kyler Murray calling the signals.

Seattle should bounce back from a poor end to the 2020 season, and San Francisco is bound to be healthier than it was a season ago, but I like Los Angeles to come away with the division title.

Sean McVay did lose some key ingredients on defense, including defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, but the Rams still have the NFL’s best defender, Aaron Donald, and one of its best defensive backs, Jalen Ramsey.

More importantly, the Rams upgraded at quarterback, from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford. Stafford’s talents will allow McVay to open up the playbook once again.

Look for the Los Angeles offense to flourish, despite the loss of lead running back Cam Akers with a torn Achilles.

The Rams have traded away a lot of their future capital, but they should make it at least somewhat worthwhile with a division title this year.

NFC West plays

  • 1 unit Rams to win NFC South (+200)

The Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks could all make the playoffs out of the NFC West, and Washington will improve, but a rematch between Rodgers and Brady, with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, appears likely, barring key injuries.

This time, though, Rodgers will make his final run in Titletown and come away victorious.

NFC championship pick: Packers (+550)

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Loading...