Just as we could see in the AFC, the NFC is also a conference that has seen teams go from worst to first?
Who are this year’s most likely candidates?
NFC EAST: PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (6-10 IN 2020)
A lot has changed in three years for the Eagles. After being crowned Super Bowl champions during the 2017 season, their head coach is no longer there and the quarterbacks who led them that season are no longer with the franchise.
Hurts impressed at times when he played for the Eagles during the 2020 season and is now the starter. There is uncertainty over the future of players such as Zach Ertz and the Eagles will need to address this.
The Eagles are in rebuild mode but should take confidence in the fact that no-one in this division played well in 2020.
A few changes here and there may be enough to get Philadelphia back to the top of the NFC East.
NFC NORTH: DETROIT LIONS (5-11 IN 2020)
The Lions have been a dysfunctional franchise for some time. They will hope for a turnaround in fortunes in 2021 with a new head coach, new quarterback and new general manager.
Is this enough? With the Green Bay Packers around in the division it will be a tough ask. They will need to rely on injuries to star players in their division, especially with the emergence of Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers winning the MVP award.
Realistically it’s a tough ask and the Lions are the most unlikely of the four teams in this list, but no sport does surprises quite like the NFL.
NFC SOUTH: ATLANTA FALCONS (4-12 IN 2020)
The Falcons have never truly recovered from their Super Bowl 51 loss and had arguably their worst campaign in franchise history during the 2020 season. Atlanta found new ways to lose, including losing a game by scoring a touchdown.
Falcons fans shouldn’t be too disheartened as the team has some good players on offense. If they can acquire defensive players either through free agency or the draft, then the Falcons aren’t too far away.
The Saints are in a cap space mess and Drew Brees is likely to retire. Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill will win them games but not the same amount we have seen over the past few seasons. Deshaun Watson has been linked to the Panthers in a trade deal with running back Christian McCaffrey. This could help the team but may not be enough.
Atlanta have the current Super Bowl champions in their division and whilst Tampa Bay are one of the favourites to win it again in 2021, Tom Brady has to regress at some point.
NFC WEST: SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (6-10 IN 2020)
They will have room for optimism with a healthy Kittle and Bosa as well as a healthy quarterback. Whether that be Garoppolo or someone else, they are bound to be an upgrade on C.J. Beathard, Nick Mullens and Josh Rosen.
It is unclear whether Russell Wilson will be a Seattle Seahawk in 2021 or if Matthew Stafford will succeed as the Los Angeles Rams quarterback. Arizona were hit and miss in 2020 and with the 49ers only a year and two months removed from winning the NFC West, they will have every confidence they can take back the division crown in 2021. They are the most likely team to go from worst to first in the NFC in 2021.