Odds and Picks
Another year and another division title for the Packers, who have won five of the last six in the NFC North. It wasn’t easy last year, but they somehow found a way closing the season with a six-Game winning streak and 10-6 record, one Game ahead of the Lions. With the competition not expected to improve in the NFC North, the Packers are a bigger favorite to win the division in 2017 than 2016.
Odds to win NFC North
courtesy of 5Dimes (early August)
Green Bay Packers -220 (field wins +180)
Minnesota Vikings +350
Detroit Lions +625
Chicago Bears +3200
Aaron Rodgers is still leading the Green Bay Packers (over/under 10) so there’s not much that changes with the team. The loss of T.J. LAng on the line is relevant, but the group should still be fine. Jordy Nelson leads the receivers with tight ends Martellus Bennett and LANCe Kendricks being added to the mix. The most interesting part of the team may be at running back where former wide receiver Ty Montgomery will battle with rookies Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones for snaps. The defense had major issues last season, especially in the secondary, and that led to 388 points allowed, one of the higher numbers in the league. Most of the help will come from rookies with second rounder Kevin King stepping into a starting role at corner. The front seven has the usual names like Clay Matthews and Mike Daniels leading the way, but if the secondary doesn’t improve, the same problems will be there.
The Minnesota Vikings (over/under 8.5) had a real chance to win the division for the second straight year, but fell apart oNCe the Schedule picked up. For a team that’s led by its defense, the offense is still limited by what Sam Bradford can do at quarterback. He took almost no chances last season and that led to a record completion percentage, as well as an 8-8 record. The hope is that rookie Dalvin Cook and LAtavius Murray can give a spark in the running Game, while Stefon Diggs does his thing in the receiving Game. If second year WR LAquon Treadwell lives up to his potential, that could also boost the offense. To go with all that, Riley Reiff, Mike Remmers and rookie center Pat Elflein should be good additions to the offensive line. The defense should be one of the best around yet again with most of the same faces in place. Almost nothing changes from Linval Joseph up front to Anthony Barr in the middle to Harrison Smith in the back. This has the makings of a top-five defense.
The Detroit Lions (over/under 7.5) have to come back from what was a huge let down to close the 2016 season, losing their final three Games and a division crown. The offense changes close to nothing outside of T.J. LAng and Greg Robinson new pieces on the line. Matthew Stafford still leads the troops with Golden Tate in the receiving Game. Ameer Abdullah will try and stay healthy, while pass-catching RB Theo Riddick backs him up. This offense was impressive at times last year, but ultimately didn’t do enough against good defenses. Speaking of defense, that remains a problem for the Lions, with a secondary still looking for a corner opposite of Darius Slay. Rookie Jarrad Davis and Paul Worrilow are expected to be new starters at linebacker, while Ziggy Ansah needs to return to form for the Lions to have a chance at the playoffs.
There isn’t much that needs to be said for the Chicago Bears (over/under 5.5) and that’s evident by their odds. Mike Glennon and Mitchell Trubisky will fight for the starting quarterback gig while Jordan Howard will try and single-handedly win Games for the team. Cameron Meredith is the expected top receiver as Kevin White is still trying to figure things out. The Bears also added a lot of veteran receivers that haven’t been good in awhile with Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright and Victor Cruz. The defense can be a positive, but probably won’t be enough to make the playoffs. Pernell McPhee is a playmaker, while Leonard Floyd will try and match him. If newcomers PriNCe Amukamara and Quintin Demps can make a differeNCe in the secondary, that would turn this defense into a legit threat.
The odds for the Packers seem a bit high and that’s mainly because they are such a public team. With a questionable defense, they are far from a lock even given recent history. They have the toughest Schedule with road Games at Atlanta, Dallas, Carolina and Pittsburgh standing out so betting on the field against them wouldn’t be a terrible idea.