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NFC North Up for Grabs in 2009-2010
No Odds on Favorite - BWorld Picks the Bears!
The NFC North figures to be one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. The odds to win the division suggest that as well as the Vikings and Bears each have odds of +160 to win the NFC North. Which means you risk $100 to win $160. The Packers are +180 while the Lions, 0-16 a year ago, weigh in at lofty odds of 10/1. So who is going to end up on top? Well, our money is on the Chicago Bears with their new star Quarterback Jay Cutler. He's a QB that can make a difference, one of the best in the NFL and may be the missing link for the Monsters of the Midway.
Here's a team by team look at the NFC North with each teams odds to win the division.
Minnesota Viking (Odds
to win the NFC North +160) What kind of message does it send your team when
you go after Brett Favre, but canít get him? It tells me Childress doesnít think
they are good enough to win as they are. They have had a dominating defense in
the past couple of years, but the offense has really come along. Adrian Peterson
is arguably the best RB in the entire NFL. Percy Harvin at WR gives the Vikings
an air threat, thus taking some pressure off Peterson. Tarvaris Jackson and Sage
Rosenfels will compete for the starting QB position. Neither man is capable of
doing a great job, but they will have to do.
The defensive line is the best unit on the team. Pat and Kevin Williams are battling a four game suspension for a drug violation. If they are able to play those four games it will almost undoubtedly mean an extra win. The linebackers are also very strong. E.J. Henderson will be back to full strength after enduring a foot injury last year. The Vikings are a very good team, but QB play is preventing them from being a great team. Howe well Jackson or Rosenfels performs will have a large impact on the success of the team. Look for 10 wins and a strong hand come playoff time.
Chicago Bears (Odds to win the NFC North +160) Two words have done a tremendous job of energizing the fan base in Chicago. Those two words are Jay Cutler. The QB with a rocket for an arm, and a playfully arrogant swagger arrives from Denver and will be the best QB the Bears have seen in decades. It will be his job to improve an offense that ranked just 26th last year. He has WR Devin Hester to make the job easier. While he hasnít realized his full potential yet, he is very fast and a homerun threat. Matt Forte eases the pain of wasting a first round pick on Cedric Benson in 2005. Forte rushed for 1,238 yards last year and will take some of the pressure off Cutler.
The defense that dominated in 2006 and led the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance is long gone. They are getting too old and are showing signs of aging. The defensive line and secondary are especially weak. They have no pass rush whatsoever. The secondary ranked 22nd in interceptions last year. Competing for the NFC North title isnít out of the question. Cutler will have to carry the bulk of the load, and the defense MUST get better. Donít count the Bears out.
Green Bay Packers (Odds to win the NFC North +180) Brett Favre is gone and Aaron Rodger is now the face of this organization. He did as well as could be expected last year, helping the team to finish 6-10. Green Bay finished 8th overall in offense last year, and should be better thanks to Rodgers getting some much needed experience. The Packers will be moving from the 4-3 defense to the 3-4 scheme this year. NT B.J. Raji could make the transition easier. He is a powerful lineman and will take some pressure off the linebackers. The secondary is very strong. Both of the Packers Pro Bowlers from 2008 were in this group. CB Charles Woodson is a seasoned vet and still plays at a very high level.
The offensive line gives me cause to worry. While they are not horrible, they arenít very good. Rodgers has to be protected, and if they allow him to go down it could be lights out for the rest of the season. Ryan Grant has to be more productive at RB. He averaged 3.9 YPC last year. Brandon Jackson is a good third down RB. The new defensive scheme will go a long way to getting them back in playoff contention. Look for the Green Bay Packers to win 10 games and return to the playoffs.
Detroit Lions (Odds to win the NFC North +1000) What are the odds that this team can go from 0-16 to playoff contender? The answer is little to none. However, they will make big strides towards becoming a contender in the future. Drafting Mathew Stafford with the #1 pick means they will have a reliable franchise QB for years to come. Stafford is very skilled and did a great job in his time at Georgia. Ideally he wonít see much action until next year, but if Dante Culpepper goes down he will be thrown to the wolves.
Both QBs have one of the best WRs in the entire NFL. Calvin Johnson tied for an NFL high 12 TD catches last year and had 1,331 yards. He is a deep field threat and he will get plenty of attention from opposing secondaries. The offensive and defensive lines are horrendous, and must improve. Detroit has taken steps towards the future, but those investments would provide an immediate return in most cases. They should win 4 games and if they are very lucky perhaps 6.