Minnesota should have far more competition this year from the Green Bay Packers if Aaron Rodgers stays healthy.
The Detroit Lions fired Jim Caldwell after a 9-7 season, signaling that they’re willing to rebuild under new coach Matt Patricia.
The Chicago Bears also have a new coach after hiring Matt Nagy. They’re still mired in a major rebuild and are at least 1-2 seasons from being competitive in the division.
Let’s look at the odds on all of these teams and also analyze whether or not they’re a good bet to win the North.
2018 Team Odds on Winning NFC North
The following odds are featured on GTBets right now. Keep in mind that these are subject to change and are sometimes removed and added:
- Chicago +850
- Detroit +700
- Green Bay +140
- Minnesota +120
2018 NFC East Team Previews
Minnesota Vikings (+120)
Former offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur left to take over the New York Giants head coaching gig. However, the team shouldn’t miss him too much after making a great hire with John DeFilippo.
This year’s edition of the offense could be even better when considering that running back Dalvin Cook is back again after tearing his ACL last season. And Cousins has some good weapons, including receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs as well as tight end Kyle Rudolph.
The Vikings had the league’s best defense last year right up until the NFC Championship, when they gave up 38 points to the Eagles. This black mark aside, Minnesota’s D led the league in scoring defense (15.8 PPG) and third-down conversion rate (25%).
Corner Xavier Rhodes, linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kindricks, and safety Harrison Smith are all elite. The team also has defensive ends Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen, who combined for 20 sacks in 2017.
Overall, Minnesota has a chance to be just as successful as last season, when they won 13 games. But the keys include DeFilippo’s offense working here and Cousins playing as well as Keenum or better.
Green Bay Packers (+140)
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers only managed seven games until breaking his collarbone. The rest of the season was a disaster for Green Bay, as they won just three games with Brett Hundley in his place and finished 7-9 overall.
But even before Rodgers’ injury, things weren’t so great in Wisconsin. The offense was marginally void of playmakers, which put more burden on No. 12. The hope is that signing tight end Jamie Graham can improve the offense somewhat.
Green Bay has a lot of question marks in their secondary following a season where they gave up the most yards per pass attempt (7.9) in the conference. They also lost safety Morgan Burnett in free agency and traded away corner Damarious Randall.
The team is banking on first and second-round picks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson quickly learning the pro game. Green Bay knows they can rely on Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Mike Daniels in the front seven.
The Packers can’t be slept on as long as they have Rodgers under center. However, the team as a whole is largely untalented. That said, they seem overrated with +140 odds.
Detroit Lions (+700)
Matthew Stafford has proven the last couple of years that he’s a very good quarterback even without Hall of Fame receiver Calvin Johnson. But he may not have to do as much anymore when considering the receivers he has in Marvin Jones and Golden Tate.
Detroit has really committed to improving their perennial weak run game by signing LeGarrette Blount and drafting RB Kerryon Johnson early.
The defense as a whole underperformed last season, with the lone bright spot being All-Pro corner Darius Slay. They didn’t get any better after losing LB Tahir Whitehead and DE Hatoli Ngata in the offseason.
Perhaps linebacker Jarrad Davis can improve with more reps in the absence of Whitehead. The team would also like to see more consistent play out of defensive end Ziggy Ansah, who had three sacks in three different games last year, while disappearing in most other contests.
The Lions are coming into this season with a new head coach and a lot of new players. Stafford could really be helped if the run game comes through and takes pressure off him. That said, Detroit might be slightly undervalued at +700.
Chicago Bears (+850)
Mitchell Trubisky played solid as a rookie when considering that he had a terrible receiving corp. The Bears made sure to upgrade this by adding Trey Burton and Allen Robinson in the offseason. New head coach Matt Nagy, who served as the Chiefs’offensive coordinator, could also help breathe new life into this offense.
Running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are known commodities coming into 2018. Howard is a great zone-scheme runner, while Cohen is a home-run threat who’s also good at catching passes out of the backfield.
Chicago has the potential to field a good defense. DE Akiem Hicks is a very versatile lineman who can stuff the run and put pressure on the quarterback. The Bears also managed to keep corners Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara in free agency, which ensures that the secondary doesn’t slide. Assuming safeties Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos can grow into their roles, Chicago will definitely stop some teams in the division.
Nagy brings a good pedigree having come from the Andy Reid coaching tree. After all, Super Bowl champion coach Doug Pederson also coached under Reid.
Nagy, who ran a strong offense for the mediocre Chiefs last season, has even more to work with in the Chicago team. Assuming the defense can also come together, the Bears could flirt with .500.