What every NFL team should be thankful for in 2021
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What every NFL team should be thankful for in 2021

With Thanksgiving upon us, every NFL team has something to be thankful for whether they've seen on-field success in 2021 or not. With a cup half full attitude, here's a look at what all 32 teams can most appreciate.

 
1 of 32

Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray

Arizona Cardinals: Kyler Murray
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Murray remains a top MVP candidate despite missing two games to an ankle injury, proving to be a superstar in his third season. The Cardinals have realistic Super Bowl aspirations, and Murray can lead them there with the team's great offense.

 
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Atlanta Falcons: Cordarrelle Patterson

Atlanta Falcons: Cordarrelle Patterson
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Patterson has been an unexpected story of 2021. He's had trouble finding a fit in the league despite great speed, but Arthur Smith has found a place for him in the Falcons offense this season. He's well on his way to a career year, helping overcome the absences of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley.

 
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Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson

Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson
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Jackson continues to be a human highlight reel a top MVP candidate for the Ravens. The team has impressively held up despite major injuries in large part due to Jackson's contribution. He's set to be paid like a superstar soon.

 
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Buffalo Bills: Sean McDermott

Buffalo Bills: Sean McDermott
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The Bills franchise has been turned upside down in a good way since McDermott came on board in 2018. After years of futility, the team made the AFC Championship last year under McDermott's watch and could aim even higher this season.

 
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Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton's Return

Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton's Return
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After the Sam Darnold experiment flamed out, the desperate Panthers signed their former MVP to lead the way for the latter half of the 2021 season. Carolina still has a shot to make noise with a talented defense and the return of Christian McCaffrey from injury. Newton might not be the same player Panthers fans remember in his heyday, but it's still a treat to watch arguably the best player in franchise history rejoin the team.

 
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Chicago Bears: Justin Fields

Chicago Bears: Justin Fields
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Bears quarterback history is filled with futility, even in some years when the team has had success. Seeing Fields fall to the Bears in the 2021 draft created a buzz around Chicago, and he hasn't done anything to hurt his stock.

 
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Cincinnati Bengals: Exciting Offense

Cincinnati Bengals: Exciting Offense
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Cincinnati has had an up and down 2021 season, but the offense has been fun to watch with Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja'Marr Chase, and Tee Higgins piling up points. It's good to see the team finally making progress in 2021 after several down years.

 
8 of 32

Cleveland Browns: Kevin Stefanski

Cleveland Browns: Kevin Stefanski
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Cleveland is having a disappointing 2021 season so far, but the team has been on the right track since hiring Stefanski last year. The Browns were able to turn things around last season, and still have the talent to play well into January this season if they can get healthy.

 
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Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott's return

Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott's return
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After a painful 2020 season with Prescott suffering a major ankle injury, the high-flying Cowboys offense is back thanks to the quarterback. With an improved defense, the Cowboys have a shot to win big this season.

 
10 of 32

Denver Broncos: Young Offensive Weapons

Denver Broncos: Young Offensive Weapons
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The Broncos are in the thick of the AFC West race at 5-5, and the offense has started to progress thanks to their many strong weapons. Rookie running back Javonte Williams has impressed, while receivers Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick, and Noah Fant are having strong seasons. The return of Jerry Jeudy from injury gives Denver the potential to surprise this season.

 
11 of 32

Detroit Lions: The 2022 Draft

Detroit Lions: The 2022 Draft
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Predictably, it's been a terribly early season for the Lions after trading Matthew Stafford and failing to spend significant money in free agency. Jared Goff doesn't look like the future at quarterback, and the team desperately needs receiver help. Fortunately, at their current pace, Detroit could have the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 draft.

 
12 of 32

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers' return

Green Bay Packers: Aaron Rodgers' return
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Rodgers' fight with the Packers front office clouded his status heading into training camp, but Packers fans are thankful he opted to play this season. That's especially the case after seeing how backup Jordan Love struggled in Week 9 while Rodgers was absent due to COVID-19. It's unclear where Rodgers will play after this season, but Packers fans can just enjoy the moment.

 
13 of 32

Houston Texans: Brandin Cooks

Houston Texans: Brandin Cooks
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There isn't much to be thankful for in Houston with Bill O'Brien's past handling of the team's salary cap and draft picks, along with Deshaun Watson's absence. Still, the team has a few exciting players remaining like Cook. He's having a strong 2021 season despite sub-par play at quarterback.

 
14 of 32

Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor

Indianapolis Colts: Jonathan Taylor
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Colts fans haven't been treated to great quarterback play since Andrew Luck's retirement, but they have been fortunate to see Taylor in white and blue. The 2020 first-round pick leads the league in rushing, quickly becoming one of the top backs in the game.

 
15 of 32

Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence

Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence
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He's looked very much like a rookie at times, but Lawrence has also shown the great talent that made him the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. The Jaguars continue to struggle, but Lawrence gives Jags fans hope for the future.

 
16 of 32

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes
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Mahomes has faced more adversity this season than he did in his first three years under center for the Chiefs, but the team was able to right the ship against the Raiders in Week 10. He's effectively become the king of KC, leading the franchise to its second Super Bowl victory while also taking an ownership stake in the Royals. It's clear the Mahomes has turned around the fortunes of the Chiefs, and fans couldn't be more thankful.

 
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Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr

Las Vegas Raiders: Derek Carr
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It's hard to remember a team ever having more adversity in one season than the Raiders, with off-field issues leading to the firing of Jon Gruden and the releases of Henry Ruggs and Damon Arnette. The team's season could be headed the wrong way, but Carr has shown strong leadership while also keeping the team in most games with his strong play under center.

 
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Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert

Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert
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Herbert quickly showed himself to be one of the top young quarterbacks in the league in his rookie season, and that progress has continued this season despite the team's struggles. He gives the franchise hope in the short and long term.

 
19 of 32

Los Angeles Rams: Sean McVay

Los Angeles Rams: Sean McVay
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After a down 2020 season, the Rams are back in the Super Bowl conversation due in large part to their outstanding offense. McVay's offense has meshed well with new quarterback Matthew Stafford, and the addition of Odell Beckham came just in time in conjunction with Robert Woods' season-ending knee injury.

 
20 of 32

Miami Dolphins: Brian Flores

Miami Dolphins: Brian Flores
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Miami's 2021 season has been disappointing so far, but a big win against Baltimore and the pending return of Tua Tagovailoa could help the team finish on a high note. The Dolphins exceeded expectations in Flores' first two seasons, and are close to getting on track this year.

 
21 of 32

Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson

Minnesota Vikings: Justin Jefferson
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Justin Jefferson had a record-breaking rookie season and continues to turn heads this year. Minnesota's inconsistency has been frustrating for fans, but the blame certainly can't be placed on their developing young star wideout.

 
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New England Patriots: Bill Belichick

New England Patriots: Bill Belichick
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Some started to question Belichick's genius after the Patriots struggled last year without Tom Brady. Those same critics are doing a 180 this year with New England looking like a top AFC contender despite starting a rookie quarterback under center. Belichick has reloaded the roster and re-created an elite defense.

 
23 of 32

New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton

New Orleans Saints: Sean Payton
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The quarterback position has been in flux this year after the retirement of Drew Brees. Jameis Winston has inconsistent due in large part to the team's lack of talent at receiver, and the team has struggled since his season-ending knee injury. Still, New Orleans has remained in games due in large part to a strong defense and Payton's offensive game planning.

 
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New York Giants: The Future

New York Giants: The Future
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It's looking like another lost year for the Giants, and the franchise is facing some major decisions at all levels in the offseason. Even despite spending big in free agency, the offense hasn't moved forward very much, and still need to decide if Daniel Jones is the answer at quarterback. Once again, it's becoming time for Giants fans to look forward to next year.

 
25 of 32

New York Jets: Quinnen Williams

New York Jets: Quinnen Williams
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There hasn't much to be thankful for with the Jets this season, but Williams' continued development into a dominant interior defensive lineman has been one saving grace. After recording seven sacks last season, he already has five sacks in nine games this year. He's a nice foundational player for the defense.

 
26 of 32

Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith

Philadelphia Eagles: DeVonta Smith
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The Eagles have been in search of receiving help for the last several years, and Smith looks like an answer. The 2020 Heisman Trophy winner is off to an excellent start to his career in the developing Eagles offense.

 
27 of 32

Pittsburgh Steelers: Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers: Defense
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Elite defensive talent led by T.J. Watt has helped the Steelers produce elite defense and remain in playoff contention early this season. The team ranks in the top 10 in points allowed for the third consecutive season,

 
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San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa

San Francisco 49ers: Nick Bosa
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Bosa is having an outstanding rebound season after suffering a season-ending injury early last year. He has eight sacks through nine games, putting him in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year. The 49ers have had a disappointing first half of the season, but Bosa shows hope for the future.

 
29 of 32

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson

Seattle Seahawks: Russell Wilson
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Wilson showed remarkable durability until a finger injury this year that sidelined him for four weeks. The team is thrilled to have their star signal-caller back as they try to fix the 2021 season and make the playoffs.

 
30 of 32

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady and Bruce Arians

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady and Bruce Arians
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The Bucs have had quite the whirlwind over the last year, going from mediocrity to winning the Super Bowl with the addition of Brady and leadership of Arians. The team remains a major contender in 2021, especially if the defense can get healthy.

 
31 of 32

Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry

Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry
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Henry was well on his way to another incredible season before suffering a foot injury in Week 8. The team has remained on fire since Henry was lost, though the offense hasn't been as explosive. Titans fans are hoping for his return in the playoffs.

 
32 of 32

Washington Football Team: Terry McLaurin

Washington Football Team: Terry McLaurin
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Washington is having a rough year after surprising last year, with struggles at quarterback and a defense that has disappointed. McLaurin has remained one constant, as the third-year wideout is having another great year with eyes on his first Pro Bowl.

Seth Trachtman is a fantasy sports expert and diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan still hoping for a Super Bowl win during his lifetime. He doesn't often Tweet, but when he does, you can find him on Twitter @sethroto.

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