Can Anyone Beat Out Rodgers and Favored Packers in NFC North in 2017?
After winning their fifth NFC North division title in the last six years, Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers are expected to do so again in 2017 and are decisive favorites to do just that.
However, the Packers have some issues they need to address and the Minnesota Vikings, first and foremost, are looking to get the division upset after claiming the North crown in 2015 while the Detroit Lions are lurking.
If you’re looking to find out which NFC North Super Bowl hopeful is offering the best value against their division odds heading into 2017, then let’s get started.
What Are The 2017 Odds To Win The NFC North
Green Bay Packers -220
The Packers ranked a stellar fourth in scoring in 2016 (27.0 ppg), mostly because of the magic that Aaron Rodgers routinely creates, but they also hit the offseason with some issues to address, namely a rushing attack that ranked an uninspiring 20th overall – and a defense that finished 21st in points allowed (24.2 ppg).
To address their issues, the Packers named converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery the full-time starter while parting ways with former running backs Eddie Lacy and James Starks. The Packers also added veteran tight end Martellus Bennett and guard Jahri Evans in free agency, but they also lost starting offensive linemen T.J. Land and J.C. Tretter in free agency.
On the defensive side of the ball, Green Bay brought in veteran cornerback Kevin King and defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois in free agency, but may not have address their issues as well as they should have this offseason.
Minnesota Vikings +350
Minnesota has been perennially powerful on defense ever since head coach Mike Zimmer took over and 2016 was no different as the Vikes ranked a stellar third in total defense and sixth in points allowed (19.2 ppg).
Unfortunately, the Vikings need to improve a lackluster offense that finished dead last in rushing last season and 23rd in scoring (20.4 ppg). To address their issues, Minnesota brought in veteran Latavius Murray in free agency and drafted former Florida State star Dalvin Cook in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Minnesota also signed free agent right tackle Mike Remmers and wide receiver Michael Floyd in free agency although they parted ways with franchise star Adrian Peterson, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and left tackle Khalil Mack. While Minnesota did make some nice offseason transactions, I’m just not real excited about any team that has Sam Bradford as its starting quarterback.
Detroit Lions +625
Matthew Stafford and the Detroit Lions managed to win nine games to reach the playoffs for the second time in the last three years. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they collapsed late by losing their final three regular season games before getting smacked around by Seattle in their one-and-done playoff appearance.
Detroit ranked a solid 13th in points allowed last season (22.4 ppg), but struggled to put points on the board in finishing 20th in scoring (21.6 ppg). To address their issues, the Lions signed veteran guard T.J. Lang and tackles Rick Wagner and Akeem Spence , but then made all of their of the big signings and draft almost exclusively about their defense.
The Lions signed linebacker Paul Warrilow and drafted linebacker Jarrad Davis in the first round while also signing veteran cornerbacks Cornelius Washington and D.J. Hayden in free agency. Right now, I’m thinking the Lions missed the mark in free agency and the NFL draft by going just a bit too hard on defense and that makes me believe they are due to take a slight step backwards in 2017.
Chicago Bears +3200
The Chicago Bears were a mess in 2016 as they won just three games last season and they’ll be a different looking team in 2017 because of it. The Bears parted ways with former quarterback jay Cutler, No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey, defensive back Tracy Porter and veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer among others. Chicago then went out signed veteran quarterback Mike Glennon to take over as their starter before foolishly giving up way too much to move up one pick to nab former North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick in the draft.
Chicago also signed veteran cornerback Prince Akumura and safety Quintin Demps in free agency while adding offensive free agents in wide receivers Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright and tight end Dion Sims. Still, after ranking 28th in scoring (17.4 ppg) and 24th in points allowed (24.9 ppg) the bears have a long way to go before they’re ready to challenge anyone for anything.
NFC North Winner Pick
While the Minnesota Vikings have the best defense in the NFC North and look like they’ve improved their offense this offseason, only one team in this division has Aaron Rodgers on its sideline and that is the Green Bay Packers. Right now, I’m fully expecting the Pack to win the NFC North for the second straight season, although this time, they won’t have to win their final six regular season games in desperation to do it.
I guess it’s possible for the Vikings to challenge Green Bay for division supremacy, but again, Sam Bradford isn’t the most inspiring quarterback around and that will be the difference in why Green Bay wins the NFC North and the Vikings don’t.
Pick: Green Bay Packers