NFC North Division Odds
After finishing as the runner-up a year ago, the Green Bay Packers have been chosen by oddsmakers to win the NFC North Division in 2016.
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Packers are -140 to win the NFC North, which are the only negative odds given to a team in the division. The Minnesota Vikings have the next-best odds at +200, while the Chicago Bears are +900 and the Detroit Lions have the longest odds at +1000.
As usual, Green Bay GM Ted Thompson passed on the opportunity to sign a big-money free agent and instead focused on the draft. The team selected defensive tackle Kenny Clark in the first round and named offensive tackle Jason Spriggs in the second. Neither player is expected to start, which teams the Packers will resemble the team that won 10 games a year ago. That said, the return of Jordy Nelson (who missed all of last season after suffering a torn ACL in preseason) will be a huge boost to Aaron Rodgers and the passing game, plus a slimmer version of Eddie Lacy will help the offense as a whole.
As for the Vikings, who won the NFC North last season with an 11-5 record, they added Ole Miss receiver Laquon Treadwell in the draft, as well as cornerback Mackensie Alexander. The defense should once again be solid thanks to the return of Brian Robison, Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, Harrison Smith and Xavier Rhodes. The offense also returns mainstays Adrian Peterson and Kyle Rudolph, as well as receiver Stefon Diggs, who turned heads in 2015. The question, at least in regards to Minnesota taking that proverbial next step, is whether or not QB Teddy Bridgewater is ready to have a breakout season heading into his third year. If so, then the Vikings could be a great value for bettors at +200.
The Bears are still in the midst of a facelift under second-year coach John Fox but they're getting there. If 2015 first-rounder Kevin White can make an impact after not playing as a rookie last year, then he'll form a formidable duo with Alshon Jeffery and Jay Cutler will thus have plenty of weapons to throw to in the passing game. The defense is still a work in progress for Chicago, but Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan were underrated additions to a defense that also features Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston and Kyle Fuller. The secondary will be the biggest question mark.
As for the long-shot Lions, they now face life without Calvin Johnson, who retired in the offseason. Matthew Stafford has a new weapon in free agent addition Marvin Jones from Cincinnati, plus still has Golden Tate and tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Eric Ebron. As for the defense, the unit finished 16th in defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders and returns standout pass-rusher Ziggy Ansah. Whether there's enough around Ansah is the question, although second-rounder A'Shawn Robinson adds depth to a defensive line that also includes veteran Haloti Ngata.
NFC North Odds to Win
Green Bay Packers -140
Minnesota Vikings +200
Chicago Bears +900
Detroit Lions +1000