Thanks to Aaron Rodgers’ collar bone, last season’s NFC North division was a one-horse race won handily by the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings could have sat on their good fortune and doubled down with Case Keenum, but instead they decided to go all in, push their chips to center of the felt and sign Kirk Cousi. The 2018 NFC North betting odds seem to barely reflect that change.
Of course, that’s great news for you and your potential NFC North bets. There’s no negative number here. If you back the right horse, you’ll make plus money. Frankly, looking at the NFC North odds, I can’t believe the Vikings and Green Bay Packers are within spitting distance, let alone just 15 points apart.
The odds stack up right as far as I can see, but the win totals are where you can make a dent in this division.
Odds To Win NFC North Division
Minnesota Vikings EVEN
Green Bay Packers +150
Chicago Bears +600
Detroit Lions +1600
The Vikings widened the gap after tying the Packers at Lambeau Field. They should be favored to win the rematch in November, though the Packers will play that game on 10 days rest and Aaron Rodgers’ knee will presumably be in better shape. The Lions and Bears swapped spots as well. Chicago could easily be 2-0 if not for a miracle Green Bay comeback and the Lions are winless.
Win totals: Over 10 (-125), Under 10 (-105)
Our memories are very short, it seems, when it comes to young, injured players. Before Dalvin Cook went down last season he was right there in the (too soon) Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation with Alvin Kamara and Kareem Hunt. Cook rushed for 354 yards and two touchdowns in four games and added 11 catches for 90 yards. He was hurt early enough in 2017 that he should be full-go by the time the 2018 season starts on Sept. 9.
The Vikings have a couple of big changes they’ll have to deal with and both should be upgrades. They brought in former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback coach John DeFilippo to run the offense, replacing the departed Pat Shurmur, who took the head coaching job with the New York Giants. Shurmur did an excellent job in his year and a half at the helm in Minnesota, but I think DeFilippo is in that next wave of elite, young offensive coaches like Sean McVay and Matt Nagy.
DeFelippo has plenty of tools to show off what he can do with the Vikings. Adam Thielan has been a surprise break-out star for Minnesota at wide receiver and Stefon Diggs has won plenty of people Daily Fantasy prizes over the last couple of years. If Laquon Treadwell can blossom into a third wideout, Cousins will have all the weapons he needs to put up huge passing numbers with the Vikings.
This is still one of the best defenses in the league, with championship-caliber players at every level. They also play in one of the most inhospitable venues in the league, U.S. Bank Stadium. If Minnesota gets home field advantage in the playoffs, and they might, they’ll go to the Super Bowl.
When looking at the NFC North odds, the mystery to me is why aren’t the Vikings more of a favorite? That means for you, the person taking out their wallet right now, this is the time to lay down your cash. To get plus money on a loaded Vikings team is just too good to pass up.
Projected win total and finish: 12-4, First place in the NFC North
Green Bay Packers
Win totals: Over 10 (+100), Under 10 (-135)
The NFC North betting odds and win totals are just too high for a team with this many gaping holes. The Packers are thin on the offensive line, have no real running game to speak of and have gotten old on defense like they drank from the wrong Holy Grail.
It’s entirely possible that Rodgers can will this team to 10 wins and a Wild Card berth (and loss). I don’t think it happens this season. Green Bay will hang around all year and Rodgers will deliver his usual spectacular highlights. It’s time for Mike McCarthy to be run out of town. This should be the year.
Projected win total and finish: 8-8, second place in the NFC North
Win totals: Over 6.5 (-140), Under 6.5 (+110)
New head coach Matt Patricia might be coaching for his life from the get-go thanks to a plethora of bad old news that got dredged up from his past. Regardless of how Patricia answered those old charges, he will not have a long leash with Detroit.
I’m not sure if the Lions over-achieved last season with a 9-7 finish under Jim Caldwell, or if they just won the math contest that demanded one other NFC North team had to finish over .500. They added talent on the offensive line and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson has gotten good reviews early in camp. Like the Rodgers with the Packers, Matthew Stafford has a way of keeping the Lions in games and in the hunt most of the time. I don’t see it happening this year.
Projected win total and finish: 7-9, third place in the NFC North
Win totals: Over 5.5 (-140), Under 5.5 (+110)
I already dropped Matt Nagy’s name once in this article and he was certainly a smart hire by the Bears to tutor their young quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky. There’s just no real room at the table for Chicago this season.
The Bears upgraded their talent this season, but are still playing with a patchwork offensive line and a wide receiver group with two of their best pass-catchers, Allen Robinson and Kevin White, both coming back from season-ending injuries. White has been so consistently hurt that he’s played in a total of five games since the team drafted him in 2015 out of West Virginia.
Projected win total: 5-11, fourth place in the NFC North
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