The NFC North has a top rated passer in Aaron Rodgers but Minnesota has Adrian Peterson — and a defense that could make a statement!
Other than the New England Patriots, no team has dominated their division the past decade like the Green Bay Packers. Oddsmakers are strongly suggesting that trend will continue for another season but Mike Zimmer’s Vikings have gathered some traction among bettors and the Bears/Lions are looking to play spoiler in the NFC North.
ODDS TO WIN NFC NORTH (Now & Then)
Here is each team’s current odds to win the division along with their previously posted odds from early June, in parentheses.
4. Lions +900 (+1,000)
GREEN BAY PACKERS
It’s a steep price on the “Over” 10.5 wins but talking to handicappers, there is a fairly strong consensus that this team will be back on home turf when playoffs come around. More than likely, playing off a bye.
Green Bay does have an impressive 45-16-1 straight-up record the past 10 years vs. thier division, including playoff wins over the Bears (2010) and Vikings (2012), but it feels like the gap in talent between them and their rivals has shortened considerably. Maybe we’re putting too much stock into 2015? Maybe Jordy Nelson returns strong, Eddie Lacy turns a corner and this offense dominates, but as the saying goes, that’s why they play the game.
Regardless of what the offense does, their defense and coaching are sound. The Packers enjoy home field in three of their final five games, all against playoff teams from 2015 (Texans, Hawks, Vikings). Expect another double-digit win season in the cards for A-Rod and crew.
The unceremonious end to Minny’s 2015 season is not the one fans wanted to recount, now that all their frostbite wounds have healed. Fortunately for spectators, the Vikings move back indoors this year and US Bank Stadium’s first official game is Week 2 against the Pack. It’s one of six, yes SIX standalone games on Minnesota’s schedule this year so they’ll either learn to play in the spotlight or die trying.
The Bears look to show improvements on both sides of the football this season. Their toughest opponents following a Week 9 bye are Green Bay (Week 15) and Minnesota (Week 17), so it will be interesting to see what kind of flow they can get into during the first-half.
Jay Cutler’s bipolar tendencies have stabilized of late (21:11 TD:INT in 2015), but he’s not surrounded by Pro Bowl talent. Adam Gase is gone, so we’re going to find out what Cutler’s made of. He’ll need to combine skill plus leadership through an entire 16-game schedule and if Cutler rises to the occasion, eight wins are an absolute possibility.
A 7-9 straight-up record wouldn’t surprise anyone outside of Michigan so the bookmakers have done a good job on this total. The Lions open with road games in three of four weeks and each is a tough matchup (Colts, Packers, Bears).
Detroit’s run game and O-Line have to prove themselves before this team can be considered a playoff contender but the passing game looks like it will be just fine sans Megatron. Matthew Stafford can make things happen but the bottom line is that he’s been sacked 89 times the past two seasons. Keep an eye on first round draft pick Taylor Decker, who’s challenging for a starting job at left tackle. If he’s up to playing at the pro level and the rest of Detroit’s young O-Linemen fall into place, Stafford and Jim Bob Cooter could make things interesting.