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Business as Usual in Green Bay

Professional sports teams can sometimes be accused of getting too comfortable at the top of the standings, and the 2015 Green Bay Packers were a great example of that. After winning four straight NFC North banners, the Pack lost their stranglehold on the division as the upstart Minnesota Vikings claimed the title a year ago.

Oddsmakers aren’t expecting the boys from the frozen tundra to regress, however. Online sportsbook Bovada lists the Packers behind only the New England Patriots atop Super Bowl odds.

After handing over play-calling duties to assistant Tom Clements before last season, longtime head coach Mike McCarthy is back in the saddle. That’s good news for Green Bay backers, as the Packers’ offense was downright unwatchable at certain points last year — a far cry from the well-oiled machine we’re used to seeing.

Star wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who missed the entire 2015 campaign with a knee injury, is back in the fold. Newly acquired tight end Jared Cook gives the green and gold speed and talent, something they’ve lacked at that position in recent years.

At the end of the day, any team that has all-world quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be competitive. Don’t expect that to change in 2016.

Here’s a look at their odds for this season:

Super Bowl +600

Green Bay hasn’t been to the Super Bowl since its 2011 championship over the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they’ve been a playoff team every season since. With loaded teams like Seattle, Carolina and Arizona gunning to represent the NFC, the path won’t be easy. It may be wise to wait for this price to improve rather than betting it before Week 1.

NFC Champion +375

The Packers are slight favorites to win the NFC, narrowly edging out Seattle for that distinction. Diehard Green Bay fans will be hesitant to place a wager on this due to their team’s penchant for putting forth heartbreaking playoff performances in recent years. The Packers had the 2014 NFC Championship Game in the bag before collapsing at the hands of the Seahawks, and their 2015 divisional setback to the Cardinals in overtime was another tough pill to swallow.

NFC North -250

Make no mistake — it’s a two-team race up north. Green Bay’s hated rival, the Minnesota Vikings, escaped the middling depths of mediocrity last season and put up an 11-5 record to reclaim the division. The Vikes had a quietly good offseason and are out for blood in light of their gut-wrenching playoff loss to the Seahawks, so the days of Green Bay’s perennial dominance in the NFC North aren’t guaranteed anymore.

Win Total - 10.5

The Pack have had just two single-digit win seasons since 2007, and they’ve had more than 10 wins five times during that span. Green Bay is in a great spot to do it again, as they’ll face only one playoff team from 2015 (Minnesota in Week 2) before Week 10. With the Rodgers-to-Nelson connection back, I love the OVER 10 wins here.

Rodgers (+425) for MVP

I know, I know. Picking the favorite to win is like correctly predicting you’ll school your five-year-old in a game of one-on-one. But Rodgers, a two-time MVP Award winner, is primed for another huge season under center at Lambeau Field. Having Nelson back on the field will very likely give Rodgers the boost he needs. After all, he made James Jones look like a standout receiver again in 2015, and that's easier said than done.

The signal-caller has four seasons of at least 4,000 yards, and he hasn’t tossed more than eight interceptions since 2010. Rodgers is the engine that makes Green Bay’s offense go, and he’s never a bad bet to win the individual hardware.

2016 Green Bay Packers Futures Odds
Super Bowl+600
NFC Championship+375
NFC North-250
Win Totals10.5

Odds as of September 7 at Bovada