One of the most exciting NFL divisions, the NFC North has provided some incredible wire-to-wire races over the years. Featuring the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings, the NFC North hasn’t seen a repeat winner in the last five seasons.
Entering this season, the Packers are in defense of the crown, and will be looking to repeat as champions for the first time since winning the division for consecutive years from 2011-14. A lot has changed in the division since then and while the Packers are still a force to be reckoned with, the remainder of the North won’t go down without a fight. USAbetting takes a look at the NFC North 2020, with predictions, and picks which team will likely win the division this season.
+2500 to win Super Bowl; +1100 for NFC; +165 for NFC North (all odds from Bovada)
Winners of 10 games last season, the Vikings last won the NFC North in 2017-18 when they won 13 games and made it to the conference championship, losing to ultimate Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings could taste the Super Bowl that year, but just fell short. This season the team will look to finish what they started and will do so in a better position to reach the season’s final game this year than last.
The Vikings didn’t make it out of the free agency window unscathed as Minnesota said goodbye to key defensive pieces, Xavier Rhodes and Everson Griffen. They also traded away Stefon Diggs to the Buffalo Bills. The Diggs trade was largely unexpected but it did net the Vikings a ton of draft picks and the team used them wisely.
To replace Diggs’ production, Minnesota drafted Justin Jefferson, one of the top wide receivers of the class. He will certainly help give the offense a boost and will provide a nice weapon for Kirk Cousins. Jefferson won’t replace Diggs entirely, certainly not in his rookie season, but he is an explosive player who will bring similar attributes to the team. On defense, Minnesota picked up Jeff Gladney, a cornerback who will help replace some of what the team lost in the secondary with Rhodes and others’ departures.
Minnesota is certainly in an interesting position. The team believes it has done enough in the draft to offset their losses with gains, and largely the American offshore sports betting websites believe it too. If the rookie production for the Vikings proves enough, this team could very well return to the top of the standings. That said, it seems unlikely, given the impact COVID-19 is having on OTAs and mini camps, that rookies will be able to have as much contributions league wide compared to previous seasons. With a team like the Vikings relying on that production, there is another team in the division that has the veteran experience to see the NFC North title come their way.
Green Bay Packers
+2800 Super Bowl; +1200 NFC; +165 NFC North
The Packers made a future-altering move in the NFL Draft when they decided Jordan Love would be their man, all while Aaron Rodgers was left without weapons once again. Instead of filling much-needed holes and doing what they needed to support Rodgers, the Packers seemingly bet on what they have and are focused on what comes next. That’s not to say the team is moving on from Rodgers, not yet at least. As mentioned above, Love likely won’t be ready due to rookie development suffering as a result of the teams’ being altered by the virus. He will sit on the bench and learn from his predecessor, exactly the way Rodgers first did when he was being groomed to replace Brett Favre.
Rodgers’ time in Green Bay may be winding down but the team is confident that it can make one last run with him under center. To that extent, the Packers used the draft to build around Rodgers from a protection standpoint, shoring up the offensive line in support of their mobile QB. Rodgers’ legs, even at this stage of his career, are still a vital part of his game as he is at his best when he scrambles. The additions of Ricky Wagner to replace the huge blow of losing Bryan Bulaga will hopefully make that still possible.
Last year’s Packers, who won 13 games, were so close to the Super Bowl. Not taking one of the top receivers, when they had a chance, could bite Green Bay in the long run. It shouldn’t affect them in 2020.
+4000 Super Bowl; +2000 NFC; +375 NFC North
In some ways, it is hard to believe that the Bears are only one season removed from when they won the NFC North, doing so in the 2018-19 season. That marked the Bears’ first division win since 2010 but the team didn’t do much with it, losing in the first round of the playoffs. Chicago was hoping to return to the postseason last year but the team struggled, finishing with just a .500 record.
Entering this year, Chicago’s expectations are starting to shift. Signing Nick Foles, the man who beat them in the playoffs two years ago, makes it clear that the Mitchell Trubisky experiment has all but come to an end. Bears fans will remember what the team gave up to trade up one spot to draft Trubisky as the third overall pick that year. That trade hurt Chicago’s drafts recently and not many are expecting the team to do much, in what could be Trubisky’s final year with the Bears.
Defensively, the Bears are still a force to be reckoned with, but it is hard to believe that will be enough with their lackluster offense. Whether it is Trubisky or Foles leading the way, Chicago doesn’t really have enough and is nowhere near where they were a few years ago, when they won the division. Look for the Bears to be a slightly below average team in 2020.
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The 2010s were a tough decade for the Lions, who were already coming off a tough 2000s, which saw them record the NFL’s first-ever 0-16 season. With bags over their heads, Lions fans had hoped things would get better when the team drafted Matthew Stafford. In some ways it did, but the success Detroit achieved never really translated to playoff victories, leaving the Lions at a crossroads right now.
Detroit won just three games last year and while they should expect to see that total increase this season, it won’t be by much. The Lions did have a good draft, offsetting some of their major losses, including the trade of Darius Slay to the Eagles. Overall, this just isn’t a very good football team. Outside of the running back position, which was made stronger in the draft, Detroit doesn’t have much on offense. Gone are the days of Stafford throwing bombs to Calvin Johnson.
The Lions and head coach Matt Patricia have their eyes on the future. Even just minor improvements in 2020 should be enough for the team to feel good. They will continue building through the draft and maybe within a few years, Detroit will be competitive again.
NFC North Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
- As for our NFC North predictions, and having a bet, our pick is to go with the Green Bay Packers to win back-to-back divisional crowns @ best odds of +190 with BetOnline.
- If you are feeling optimistic, there is also some betting value in considering a Packers’ Super Bowl win as a dark-horse pick also. You can get as large as +4000 (40/1) with Bookmaker.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.