No team in the NFC North finished with more than eight wins last year. This year, expect that to change with three of the top offenses in the conference battling it out for top spot. The safest bet in this division just might be betting the over on a weekly basis.
Green Bay Packers -125
Chicago Bears +275
Detroit Lions +4000
Minnesota Vikings +1000
Green Bay Packers season win total over/under: 10.5 (-111)
The Green Bay Packers finished 8-7-1 straight up last year and were 7-9 against the spread. As long as they stay healthy, there’s little doubt they’re the favorite to win this division. Aaron Rodgers returns after an injury-plagued season to lead a high-flying offence featuring Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and bruising running back Eddie Lacy. The only real question about this offence is its offensive line, which may or may not be any better than last year. That could turn out to be a real problem for the Packers, who need to put a ton of points on the board to make up for a porous defence.
Prediction: 10-6, tied for first in NFC North. The Packers may be frontrunners to win this division, but they aren’t that much different from the Bears or Lions, so there’s no reason to handicap any differently. They’ll give up a pile of points and score a lot if they’re healthy. Green Bay starts the season with three road games in four weeks – at Seattle, at Detroit and at Chicago. That’s not an easy start.
Chicago Bears season win total over/under: 8.5 (-153)
The Bears are going to be better in the second year of Marc Trestman’s system. Last offseason they focused on fixing the offensive line and this time they concentrated on the defensive line. Both lines should be much improved now. Chicago has big concerns in the secondary, though if Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings stay healthy and the defensive line gets into the backfield, maybe it’s not as big of a worry as it looks. Only time will tell there. Offensively, the Bears should be one of the highest scoring teams in the league thanks to Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffrey and Matt Forte.
Prediction: 10-6 tied for first in the NFC North. Chicago covered just four pointspreads last season and bettors should be careful with their Bears bets again – at least until we see if the defence can hold up its end of the bargain. Still, Chicago finishes the year with five of its last seven games at home. That could be huge.
Detroit Lions season win total over/under: 8.5 (-112)
The Detroit Lions looked like they were going to waltz to the playoffs last season before the wheels fell off and they lost seven of their last nine. That skid cost Jim Schwartz his job and led to the hiring of new head coach Jim Caldwell. He has his work cut out for him with this team. Detroit has tons of talent but this team has been hurt by a lack of depth and discipline for years. Trying to change that culture is going to be a big task.
Prediction: 7-9, third place in the NFC North. See it before you believe it with the Lions. Talent can only take you so far and Detroit’s personnel still looks soft. Maybe Caldwell will turn the team around, but right now expect that to take more than one offseason.
Minnesota Vikings season win total over/under: 6 (-154)
The Vikings named Matt Cassel their starting quarterback for Week 1 over rookie Teddy Bridgewater and in the long run, it’s probably for the best. This Minnesota team has a few more interesting pieces this season, but it is still a long way from competing for the division title. Mike Zimmer comes in as head coach and you can expect Norv Turner to open up the offence a bit. Still, Cassel is just in there until Bridgewater is ready and this team could really struggle with the new coaches before it gets better. Still, can’t be much worse than last year.
Prediction: 7-9, fourth place in the NFC North. The Vikings are the definition of a stay-away team to begin the season. They have a tough schedule with new systems in place. No thanks.