The NFC North proved to be a very interesting division last year, knowing that there were some teams that were outstanding that had the ability to make a lot of noise. This year could be no exception as well, and our NFL expert handicappers take aim at the 2012 odds to win the NFC North and make our NFC North picks and predictions.
It’s not all that much of a shock that the team that is the odds on favorite to win the NFC North is the Green Bay Packers (2012 NFC North Odds: 1 to 2.80 @ 5 Dimes Sportsbook). The Packers were the best team in the league last year in the regular season, going 15-1, but they just couldn’t survive the first round of the playoffs against the scorching New York Giants, who went on to win the whole enchilada. There are some problems for sure in Green Bay, as the defense and the rushing game just weren’t anywhere near up to par with where they should have been. The passing attack with QB Aaron Rodgers though, was out of this world. Rodgers had some of the best numbers in the league last year, and he did so by spreading the ball around a ton. The weapons are numerous and the points should be flying onto the scoreboard once again. That being said, we just don’t see how Green Bay would fail to win the NFC North again this year.
Last year, the Detroit Lions (Odds To Win NFC North: 5.10 to 1 @ 5 Dimes Sportsbook) beat the door in just a bit, breaking a hellaciously long stretch without a playoff appearance. They weren’t able to win a game, but they did prove that they can throw the ball with anyone in the league. QB Matt Stafford stayed healthy for the first time in his career for a full season and ended up throwing for over 5,000 yards, and WR Calvin Johnson was the beast of all beasts at wide receiver. The defense is nasty for sure, but this unit was guilty of taking a ton of dumb penalties, and the off the field problems for guys like DT Ndamukong Suh and DT Nick Fairley are starting to become a nuisance. The question? Is this team the neck incarnation of the New Orleans Saints, or will the legal troubles make the Lions look more like the Cincinnati Bengals of yesteryear? If it’s the former, Detroit could challenge in the NFC North. If it’s the latter, the team won’t make the playoffs for a second straight year.
We really like the chances that the Chicago Bears (2012 NFC North Betting Lines: 5.75 to 1 @ 5 Dimes Sportsbook) have of doing some damage in the NFC North this year. The defense was, and remains good enough to at least find a way to keep down some of the top offenses in this division, and the offense was really only a big time wide receiver away from really being dynamic. RB Matt Forte can catch the ball out of the backfield and provide a spark as a big time back on the ground as well, and assuming that he gets his contract status worked out, he’ll be one of the best offensive players in the league. QB Jay Cutler needs to step it up though, and he is going to have a great shot of doing so now that he has his old buddy back in WR Brandon Marshall. Those two made a great tandem with the Denver Broncos, and now, they hope to bring the same type offensive prowess to the Windy City as well.
We really feel bad for the Minnesota Vikings (NFL Betting Lines in the NFC North: 32.50 to 1 @ 5 Dimes Sportsbook). The Vikes suffered a lot of injuries last year, not the least of which is the one that put RB Adrian Peterson on the sidelines for the end of the season and might threaten the start of this campaign as well. The team’s best receiver, WR Percy Harvin has made it known that he wants a new contract, and with the team unlikely to give that to him, he might underachieve this season. QB Christian Ponder made some strides in the right direction last year when he took over for the booted QB Donovan McNabb, but he isn’t anywhere near being an elite quarterback yet and won’t be this year barring a minor miracle. Until that is the case, Minnesota is probably at absolute best, a third place team in a very tough division.
Green Bay Packers Win NFC North -280
Field Wins NFC North +220
Detroit Lions Win NFC North +510
Field Wins NFC North -720
Chicago Bears Win NFC North +575
Field Wins NFC North -850
Minnesota Vikings Win NFC North +3250
Field Wins NFC North -5500
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