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NFC North Betting Preview
Picks - Odds - Analysis
NFL divisions don't get much more wide open then the NFC North. 3 of the 4 teams have a legit chance to take top honors and the playoff bid that comes with it. Last year saw the Minnesota Vikings and gun slinging QB Brett Favre win the division for the second consecutive year. Fans will be hoping for the three-peat, but the Green Bay Packers look rejuvenated enough to make them work for it. The Chicago Bears are no slouches either. The Detroit Lions are good enough to win the division, but they could mess it up for one of the other three years. Needless to say, this will be a fun division to watch!
Green Bay Packers (Odds to win NFC North +125) The Pack is narrowly favored to regain the top spot in the NFC North. They finished 2009 with a record of 11-5 and a first round loss against Arizona in the playoffs. QB Aaron Rodgers "grew up" so to speak last year. He had a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but he responded by posting 30 TDs and just 7 INTs. He will be just as good this year. The offense features WRs Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Both had over 1,000 receiving yards last year. As if that wasn't enough, RB Ryan Grant picked up 1,200 yards in 2009. This offense was highly potent last year and there is no reason to think it won't be this time around.
The defense in Green Bay is nothing to sneeze at either. Reigning DPOY Charles Woodson returns as does Pro Bowler Nick Collins. NT BJ Raji looked poised for a big year anchoring the defensive line. It's hard to see this team not making the NFC Championship Game given all the weapons they have. They are our pick to take the NFC North.
Minnesota Vikings (Odds to win NFC North +130) As Favre turns. As of this writing, the game is once again on. Brett Favre is not committing one way or another as far as whether or not he will play this year. There was a rumor last week that he texted teammates to tell them he wouldn't be back. But the latest news is that his ankle still needs more time to heal. Gotta figure he'll be back. Can't really argue against him coming back. The guy brings a winning attitude and a heck of an arm to the table. Not to mention guts. Plus, I'd imagine he would want to make it an even 20 years in the NFL. 20 Looks better than 19 on the Hall of Fame wall : )
The defense in Minnesota is imposing. The "Williams Wall" is back and healthy. They won't be facing any suspensions from the StarCaps investigation until after the season. Jared Allen is arguably the best DE in the game. He can be counted on to pick up at the very least 12 or 13 sacks and a couple of forced fumbles. All in all, this Vikings team is just as good as they were in 2009. Their biggest problem will be competing with a rising Packers team who they disposed twice last year. It won't be so easy in 2010.
Chicago Bears (Odds to win NFC North +350) Take solace Bears fans. This year "probably" can't be worse than last year's 7-9 debacle. Jay Cutler will almost surely improve under the tutelage of new OC Mike Martz. Let's remember that he has several nice WRs including Johnny Knox and Devin Hester. The talent is there. These guys just have to mesh properly.
The defense will get Brian Urlacher back after he missed much of last year with an injury. Perhaps the biggest addition to this team is DE Julius Peppers. The five time Pro Bowler has a motor and a knack for getting to the QB. The Bears fell apart the 2nd half of last year, at one point dropping 6 of 7 games. If they can stay healthy, and if Cutler can perform like he's capable, the Bears could surprise.
Detroit Lions (Odds to win NFC North +1500) OK, this team won't go 0-16 like they did in 2008, but hoping to win the division is laughable at this point. They are headed in the right direction thanks to franchise QB Matthew Stafford and several other nice additions to the team. Suh will be a force for years to come on the defensive line. Jahvid Best will prove to be a very solid runner. The future is bright, but unfortunately the future isn't now.
As mentioned above, the NFC North, with the exception of the Lions, is pretty much wide open and dependent on several factors, one being Brett Favre. There's no reason, other than Favre, to think that both the Packers and Vikings won't be as good as they were a year ago, battling it out for the title. The Bears could surprise though. The talent is there. Our pick will be the Packers. Of the contenders, they have fewer question marks. All the pieces are in place for another run.