According to five executives across the league, the Detroit Lions are expected to be the worst franchise in the NFC during the 2021 season.
The Athletic (subscription) recently polled five NFL executives and had them rank both the AFC and NFC teams from 1 to 16. It was not unanimous, but the Detroit Lions did unfortunately come in 16th.
To my surprise, the San Francisco 49ers, who the Detroit Lions open the 2021 regular season hosting, ranked fifth in this poll, meaning according to these league executives, the 49ers should finish third in the highly competitive NFC West.
Ironically, the Matthew Stafford-led Los Angeles Rams came in third, tied with the Seattle Seahawks. And I have yet to mention the DeAndre Hopkins, Kyler Murray, and J.J. Watt-led Arizona Cardinals, who I expect to finish fourth in that division.
According to WynnBET, the Rams enter the regular season with the third-best odds to win the 2021-22 Super Bowl at +1200 right behind Tampa Bay (+650) and the odds on favorite Kansas City Chiefs, who sit at +475.
I understand that the NFC West is the strongest division in football, but I do feel that two voters MAY have ties to the division, and not the 49ers.
Of the five voters, two had San Francisco ranked fifth, one voter had them ranked fourth, but the other two seem to have gotten into the holiday weekend sauce a bit too early, ranking them ninth and 10th out of 16 in the NFC.
The Detroit Lions rank last in the latest NFC rankings.
The Detroit Lions were ranked 16th of 16 by four NFL executives, but the last voter had them ranked surprisingly at 13th. That voter has the Carolina Panthers pegged as the worst team in the NFC entering the 2021 regular season. The same voter placed the Philadelphia Eagles at 14, the New York Giants at 15.
“I have Detroit clustered with Philly and the Giants, but think they have the best quarterback of the three,” this voter added.
Another voter said some of the biggest changes to the team could be happening behind the scenes.
“Can the Brad Holmes/Chris Spielman/Dan Campbell trio change the culture from what was, at worst, a non-collaborative, know-it-all New England model?” this voter asked. “This will be multi-year revamp that has already started with replacing high-level non-coaching employees like the trainer.”
When it comes to the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers led the way and were voted as the second-best team overall behind the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Minnesota Vikings ranked eighth, but one voter had them as high as five, but another sees them at 13. So basically, they have no idea what kind of product Mike Zimmer will be putting onto the football field this season.
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The Chicago Bears averaged out at 14th in the vote; I’m sure mostly because Andy Dalton is expected to begin the season as their starting quarterback, and although he appears to possesses all of the tools, rookie Justin Fields, once he finally gets the keys from Matt Nagy may endure a learning curve before accelerating.