Handicapping The NFC North
The story of the NFC North of late is Green Bay and everybody else. The Packers are the lone constant and the Bears swap coaches when they really swap quarterback’ the Vikings don’t know what’s going to happen with their best player – Adrian Peterson; and the Lions seem to never be able to get out of their own way.
Picking Green Bay is easy because no one else seems capable of grabbing it from them.
Green Bay Packers
Packers Odds To Win 2016 Super Bowl: +600
Packers Odds To Win 2016 NFC Conference: 4/1
Packers Odds To Win 2016 NFC North Division: -300
On their offense alone the Packers are at least a .500 team. Led by Aaron Rodgers they have one of the best collections of skill talent anywhere in the league and this is one of the most stable predictable teams out there.
The focus of the draft was on defense and if they are able to be league average or better on that side of the ball they are going to be very tough to beat. Last year they turned sack master Clay Matthews into an inside linebacker and it worked. This year they need more of their defense talent to become playmakers so they can win on those rare occasions where the offense sputters.
Little value to pick them to win the division. It will be a surprise if they don’t.
Lions Odds to win NFC North: +450
Lions Odds To Win 2016 NFC Conference: 16/1
Lions Odds to win Super Bowl: +3600
The Lions are always a tease. They have good offense talent led by Matt Stafford and Megatron but they always seem to find a way to implode. Sometimes Stafford seems to play his best late in games but it is the mistakes he makes early that costs the team. I like the pickup of Ameer Abdullah, I think he adds a dynamic or at least replaced what Reggie Bush gave them.
On defense there are new faces as the Lions did not shell out for either of their defensive tackles. Instead they brought in Haloti Ngata, hoping he still has something in the tank. Last season this was a very good defensive team by the numbers. I not sure they can repeat that.
I like the Lions at +450. I am not saying they are going to win but as a secondary option there is good value. They can do it.
Bears Odds to win NFC North: +1200
Bears Odds To Win 2016 NFC Conference: 28/1
Bears Odds to win Super Bowl: +5000
The Bears gave up on the Marc Trestman experiment pretty quickly and went in a total different direction with the hiring of John Fox, a defense first guy. Still they went receiver in the first round of the draft with Kevin White, limiting the excuses for oft maligned QB Jay Cutler. This has been written a hundred times but there is enough talent around him for this offense to be good.
They did not ignore the defense though bringing in free agents Pernell McPhee and Jared Allen, who still has some game in him. I also like the pickup of Antrel Rolle. He may not have the best measurables but he makes plays. They should be more stout on defense for sure.
The moves Chicago made look like the right ones but I am still not convinced they are going to turn things around…Cutler.
Vikings Odds to win NFC North: +700
Vikings Odds To Win 2016 NFC Conference: 28/1
Vikings Odds to win Super Bowl: +4000
Last year was not a great season with all of the Peterson scrutiny but it might have been the perfect introduction for QB Teddy Bridgewater. The pressure was off and he proved that he can be an NFL quarterback. They tried to upgrade his weapons in the offseason with the addition of Mike Wallace but they already had a guy like him in Cordarrelle Patterson. They need to sort out what is going to happen with AP. Their alternatives are not good.
Minnesota used the draft to load up the defense. Losing Jared Allen is going to be tough but upgrading at CB with top pick Trae Waynes will make a difference and even though Eric Kendricks may not have been great value in the second round but he is plug and play. The defense is good though it lacks elite players.
This would be a long shot bet but with the right scheduling and player development Minnesota could be a threat.
Prediction: Realistically a lot is going to have to happen for the Packers not to win the division and Green Bay may be the favourite to take the NFC too. Each of the other teams have question marks but I do think it is possible for any of them to make a go.
It wouldn’t make you a ton but I think you could spread some money on everyone but Green Bay and then cross your fingers. Otherwise look on there is not a lot of great value with this group.
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