NFC North Season Odds Preview
Despite a slow start, the Green Bay Packers won the NFC North for the second straight season last year. With one of the best players in the game at the helm in quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay appears to be taking a stranglehold of the division.
Of course, the rest of the division won’t go without a fight. All four teams in the division have been to the playoffs within the last three years, and each enters this season with the intention of returning to the postseason. Can anyone dethrone Aaron Rodgers and the Packers at the top of the NFC North?
Green Bay Packers (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -160)
Green Bay followed up its 15-1 SU season in 2011 with a rough start out of the gate, going 2-3 SU and 1-4 ATS through its first five games. But the Packers eventually found their groove, going 10-2 SU and 9-3 ATS over the next 12 games before falling to San Francisco in the second round of the playoffs.
The Packers spent two draft picks on running backs Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin, potentially adding a capable rushing attack to Rodgers’ elite passing attack. The defense will need to be better this season if the Packers want to go deep in the playoffs, but they should breeze through the regular season on offense alone.
Chicago Bears (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +350)
Chicago got off to a 7-1 SU and 5-2-1 ATS start last season and looked like it was going to run away with the NFC North. But a 3-5 SU and ATS finish left the Bears on the outside looking in when the playoffs began in January.
Even without Brian Urlacher, the Bears should have one of the league’s best defenses again in 2013. The question will be whether or not the offense can keep up with the many high-powered offenses in the NFC. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall have good chemistry, but other weapons must emerge on offense if the Bears want to get back over the hump.
Detroit Lions (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +500)
The Detroit Lions spun out of control last season, ending the year on an 0-8 SU and 2-6 ATS skid. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson connected for huge yards as Johnson broke the all-time record for receiving yards, but too many drives ended in field goals instead of touchdowns. RB Reggie Bush has been acquired to add another explosive option in the red zone.
The defense also under-performed last season, finishing in the bottom five in points allowed. The core from the team that went 10-6 SU and made the playoffs in 2011 is still here; can this group find that spark again?
Minnesota Vikings (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +550)
Last year, Adrian Peterson won the NFL MVP award for his incredible performance on the field. Peterson finished just eight yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s all-time rushing record, and in the meantime willed his team into the playoffs with a 4-0 SU and ATS run over the last four games of the season.
Can Peterson do it again in 2013? It is hard to bet against the elite back, but his supporting cast is even weaker this season with Percy Harvin no longer on the team. Unless Christian Ponder evolves as a quarterback and does his part on offense, it is hard to see the Vikings accomplishing last season’s heroic comeback again.
The Green Bay Packers are the defending Super Bowl Champions, and are a deserving favorite atop the NFC North.
Editor Note: NFC North Odds preview for 2012, click here.
But with the defending NFC North Champion Chicago Bears, a Detroit Lions team on the rise, and a re-tooled Minnesota Vikings team in their way, this division won’t be a cakewalk.
Green Bay Packers (Odds to Win Division at Bovada -220)
The Packers return just about everyone from last season’s Super Bowl winning unit, including Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers leading the offense and linebacker Clay Matthews leading the defense. They also get running back Ryan Grant and tight end Jermichael Finley back after both missed most of last season due to injury.
With an elite defense and an offense that should be even better with Grant and Finley’s return, the Packers are a serious threat to return to the Super Bowl if they can stay healthy.
Detroit Lions (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +450)
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh wreaked havoc on opposing teams last season, and now he’s joined by Auburn standout Nick Fairley, giving the Lions one of the most lethal defensive lines in the game.
The Lions’ success this season revolves around quarterback Matthew Stafford’s health. With a talented offense including wide receiver Calvin Johnson and running back Jahvid Best, the talent is in place on both sides of the ball for the Lions to make a playoff push. But they’ll need Stafford to last a full season for the first time in his pro career.
Chicago Bears (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +500)
With all of the hype surrounding the defending champions and the up-and-coming Lions, some seem to have forgotten that the Bears won the NFC North last season with an 11-5 record.
Always strong on defense, the Bears turned their attention to offense this offseason, adding wide receiver Roy Williams and running back Marion Barber. Barber joins Matt Forte and Chester Taylor in a loaded backfield that should do plenty to control the tempo of the game and open up the passing game for Jay Cutler.
Minnesota Vikings (Odds to Win Division at Bovada +1000)
Last season was a major disappointment for the Vikings as Brett Favre crashed down to reality and the Vikings stumbled to a 6-10 record.
Not content to go into full-rebuild mode, Minnesota traded for quarterback Donovan McNabb, and brought in wideouts Devin Aromashodu and Michael Jenkins to fill in for the departed Sidney Rice. Will Donovan McNabb be the McNabb of old like he was in Philadelphia, or the one that lost his starting job in Washington? If he finds his old form, coupled with Adrian Peterson, this team could have a bounce-back season.