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The 2021 NFL season is fast approaching. In fact, now that the preseason has come and gone it’s basically here! Sure it’s too early to start thinking about a potential Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Kansas City Chiefs rematch in the Super Bowl, but they are the favorites in their respective conferences. As good as the Buccaneers are, however, they will once again have plenty of competition in the NFC.

Don’t forget to check out all of our futures plays, which you can find in our NFL news tab. They include our assessment of which three teams will improve dramatically this year and which teams will regress. As for individuals, we’ve also taken a look at the main player markets including MVP and Offensive Rookie of the Year.

For now, we are focusing on the NFC. I’ve already broken down bets I like for NFC teams to make or miss the playoffs, so let’s move on to talking about the conference champion.

2021 NFC winner odds

Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl last season and has brought back literally everyone–or at least anyone who’s anyone. That is why Tom Brady and company are +310 favorites to repeat as NFC Champions and return to the biggest football game on the planet–this time at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

Next in line are the San Francisco 49ers (+650), Los Angeles Rams (+700), and Green Bay Packers (+700). After the top four favorites, you immediately start running into some longshots in the form of the Seattle Seahawks (+1400), Dallas Cowboys (+1500), New Orleans Saints (+2000), Washington Redskins (+2400), and Minnesota Vikings (+2500). As those odds suggest, the NFC West should be especially intriguing. San Francisco could pass the torch at quarterback, Los Angeles has a new quarterback, and Seattle’s quarterback has returned but seems to be unhappy. Whoever emerges from the West will surely be a factor in the playoffs.

Make sure you also read our AFC winner predictions

Best bet to win the NFC: Green Bay Packers +700

Obviously, the Bucs are favorites for a reason, but there is not much value — if any — on them at +310. When the Packers have more than double those odds, you have to like their chances. Unsurprisingly, Aaron Rodgers is back. With Rodgers, Davante Adams, and Aaron Jones at the skill positions, Green Bay is always going to have a shot at achieving great things. Left tackle David Bakhtiari will miss the start of the season because of a torn ACL, but he should be ready for the business end. Although Rodgers may not be thrilled about things at the moment, winning generally cures all and his team–thanks to him–will likely do a lot of it early and often. Like in many cases, in the case of Rodgers and the Packers winning breeds more winning.

The defense isn’t great on paper, but it may not have to be. A dynamic offense and a division that could be a friendly one may result in the Packers’ snagging the No. 1 or No. 2 seed going into the playoffs. In the NFC North, the Detroit Lions are expected to be the worst team in the entire conference, the Chicago Bears are in borderline rebuilding mode, and you never know what you are going to get from Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings.

With lines released for EVERY NFL game from Week 1 to Week 17, find out our best bets for the season

Best longshot bet to win the NFC: Minnesota Vikings +2500

Speaking of the Vikings, they are not a bad go-big bet to win the NFC. Odds as high as +2500 are arguably too good to pass up in this situation.

It is true that the floor is low in Minnesota, such as if Cousins is a turnover machine. But the conference title is an all-or-nothing play and this team also has an extremely high ceiling. Cousins is supported by one of the most explosive running backs in the game in Dalvin Cook in addition to receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. The veteran signal-caller has no excuse to not succeed. First-round pick Christian Darrisaw will be expected to step in right away and assume the left-tackle spot. If he is effective right away, the offense could really take off (under the assumption that Cook stays healthy, of course).

On defense, the Vikings are loaded in the secondary with Patrick Peterson at cornerback plus safeties Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods. Their defense was plagued by injuries in 2020 and still finished 18th in efficiency against the fourth-toughest schedule of opposing offenses. Danielle Hunter was sidelined for the entire season, Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks missed a combined 19 games, and run stuffer Michael Pierce opted out due to COVID. The Vikes need to find an answer when it comes to putting pressure on opposing QBs. If they do, watch out.

Check out our best Super Bowl bets

Pickswise is the home of free Expert NFL picks and NFL odds. Be sure to check out all of our season previews and NFL futures bets leading up to the 2021 NFL season.

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