The 2021 NFL season is officially a week away, with the league’s season opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys scheduled for next Thursday night. With a new year just around the corner, the time for predictions is finally here.
Mel Kiper Jr. is normally busy piecing together mock drafts or projecting how the top college football prospects will translate in the NFL, but on Thursday he made his Super Bowl prediction. Next February, the ESPN analyst is predicting that the Green Bay Packers will beat the Cleveland Browns in Super Bowl LVI.
Kiper Jr. made his pick after explaining what his expectations are for the Packers this season. He revealed how sees the team’s quarterback situation playing out with 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love eventually taking over for 2020 MVP Aaron Rodgers, but believes that the timeline for the transition will be skewed when Green Bay makes a run to the Super Bowl in February.
“[The Packers] will dominate the division. I think they showed during the preseason that Jordan Love can get it done. He can throw the football, he can make any throw… I think they’re developing him just like they did with Aaron [Rodgers], where he sat for three years, year four he was the guy. Now it’ll be the third year when Jordan Love is ready to come in, if that happens,” Kiper explained.
“What will complicate that and may be the reason [Love] will need to wait until year four or year five is if Aaron Rodgers wins a Super Bowl. I think the Green Bay Packers can get to the Super Bowl, against the Cleveland Browns, and win that Super Bowl… If Rodgers wins a Super Bowl in Green Bay, Jordan Love will need to wait at least one more year.”
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) September 2, 2021
The Packers will need to shake off all of the offseason drama with Rodgers if they hope to get to the title game this season. Still, the 37-year-old is back alongside offensive weapons Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, so Green Bay will definitely have an elite offense in 2021. Questions about the Packers’ defense continue to linger, but new defensive coordinator Joe Barry seems determined to turn that unit around.
In the AFC, the Cleveland Browns boast one of the most dynamic offenses in the NFL. Nick Chubb, Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper and Kareem Hunt flank quarterback Baker Mayfield to form a unit that’s built to score points in bunches. The Browns fearsome defensive line remains one of the strengths of the team, but the rest of the defense will need to improve if Cleveland wants to get over the hump in the playoffs.
Plenty of other teams will look to prevent the Packers and Browns from getting to Super Bowl LVI next February. The Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams are all organizations that also have hopes of lifting to Lombardi Trophy at the end of this season.
All that’s left to do is let the action play out of the field. The 2021 seasons gets underway next Thursday, Sept. 9.
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