Are the Saints, Cowboys, and Vikings Contenders or Pretenders in the NFC?

Several contenders and pretenders exist in the NFC, but which team is ready to make a move from the latter to the former?

These teams didn’t exactly have the year they were expecting in 2020 and are now hungry and ready to prove they are ready to take the next step toward a playoff berth — and maybe a Super Bowl.

New Orleans Saints

Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints on the sidelines against the Chicago Bears |Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Saints are always contenders, but this year, they may be on the fence because of their quarterback situation following the retirement of Drew Brees. Head coach Sean Payton has to decide who will be under center for the first time in a long time.

Will it be Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston? According to NBC Sports, Payton thinks both quarterbacks are ready for the challenge they face.

“I think both of the players we’re talking about have had the benefit of training, being in meeting rooms with him, and seeing the daily grind. And I think we go from there.

“Obviously, there’s a high bar for our team. … And I think both of those guys will rise to the challenge. They both understand the importance of the reps that we’re going to have in this upcoming training camp. And there is a little bit of a standard and it’s kind of high, and so that’s OK.”

The standard for the Saints has been Super Bowl or bust, and anything less, even making the playoffs, is a disappointment for the franchise’s fans.

Not making the NFC Championship Game would probably be considered a bust, so one of these quarterbacks has to prove he is ready for the challenge. 

Minnesota Vikings

The Vikings are either a team of destiny or a team on the verge of a collapse. Last year, they collapsed.

They faltered down the stretch, losing to the Chicago Bears, Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They also didn’t have much cap room to bring in new faces who could help the team, according to Fansided.

They did draft quarterback Kellen Mond out of Texas A&M, but it will be interesting to see if the Vikes will leave him at that position or move him someplace else. As of now though, the Vikings might be pretenders depending on how the quarterback situations shake out with the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, and Detroit Lions.

The Vikings, ironically, may be the only team in their division that may have their starting quarterback returning from last year: Kirk Cousins.

Dallas Cowboys

Is this another year in which we play the guessing game about which Cowboys team will show up?

Will it be the team that made the playoffs twice while led by quarterback Dak Prescott?

Or will this be the same Cowboys team that fell apart last year after Prescott’s injury and whose defense couldn’t stop anyone?

Even before Prescott’s injury, the Cowboys struggled. But at least with him, they had a chance. Now that he’s set to return from the ankle injury that ended his 2020 season, they once again have a chance to win. 

But can the Cowboys’ defense return to pre-2020 status when they were decent? Luckily for the Cowboys, the NFC East is probably the worst division in football, so they will probably be favorites. Now, can they take advantage of it and be a contender? 

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