This is a pretty weak division with a lot of value. The Vikings +115 are coming back as the favorites after winning the division last year. The Packers +150 are also expected to compete with a healthy Aaron Rodgers coming back. Although both of these teams are priced well, I see more value in the Detroit Lions +500. The Lions have been competitive with Matt Stafford leading the offense. They have some games where they look great and some games where they don’t but overall, they have been very competitive and have made the playoffs a couple times in the past five years. I believe the coaching change to Matt Patricia will help them get better on the defensive side of the ball. Matt Stafford and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter have a good rapport, and should continue to do well together on offense. The Vikings are very fickle and won a lot of close games last year. That will be tough to repeat. Also the Packers seem to be devoid of talent other than Aaron Rodgers. One reason for their high price point is they have a large fanbase which tends to inflate prices on certain teams. This brings the value up on Detroit who is not a team that is as popular among fans and journalists.
Detroit Lions over 7.5, -120
This is a team that I think will surprise people this year. A lot of people don’t see the NFC North as wide open as I do. Minnesota’s dominance last year and the anticipation of Aaron Rodgers return to Green Bay seem to be driving the prices for the NFC North. The Lions are a team that was inconsistent last year and finished 9-7. They fired their coach and brought in defensive minded Matt Patricia to coach the team. Many people are down on Patritia after the Patriots defense allowed 43 points in a loss in last year’s Super Bowl. However when you look at the talent that New England had on that side of the ball, and how the defense had performed throughout the season it was not a surprise. Patricia was able to maximize the talent he had to work with to have a defense that did well more than it did not do well. He should be able to do that even better with a young Lions defense that has a lot of potential. The offense should also be improved with the addition of LeGarrette Blount. His power running style wears on defenses and he is the perfect compliment in any running scheme with his ability to eat up yards and manage the clock. He was not on back to back super bowl winning teams by accident, he was a key player for both teams. I see the Lions winning the division, competing with the Packers.
Minnesota Vikings under 10, +100
This team had many games that were close, and even in some of their games that were not close they still seemed like they could turn. Their quarterback was Case Keenum who did just well enough to not lose his job but not well enough to ever be named the starting quarterback. I don’t think Kirk Cousins makes their offense any better. Their defense is also susceptible to letting up big plays. They also had a fairly weak schedule last year. This is a team that had everything happen right for them last year with Aaron Rodgers injury and and playing in a weak division and they capitalized with 13 wins. I think the reason the total is so high is simply because they won 13 games last year. I don’t see them competing for the NFC North this year. I see them getting around 7-8 wins.
7% Lions over 7.5 wins
2% Lions Win Division
7% Vikings under 10 wins