NFC North Division Odds to Win
(The Spread) - The individual talent in the NFC North is outstanding but which team will wind up taking home the division crown this NFL season?
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Packers are -160 money line favorites to win the NFC North this season, while the Bears have the next best odds at +350. The Lions, meanwhile, are +500 while the Vikings, despite making the playoffs as a wild card team last year, are the long shots at +600.
The Packers lost receiver Greg Jennings to the Vikings in free agency but they return a nebulous on offense that includes quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. GM Ted Thompson also went a long ways to ensure Green Bay won't fall victim to injury again in the backfield by selecting Eddie Lacy and Jonathan Franklin in this year's NFL draft. Of course, whether or not the Pack challenge for the Super Bowl might hinge on whether or not Dom Capers' defense can rebound from last year's ugly effort in the Divisional Round.
The Bears got an overhaul this offseason as Lovie Smith was fired and replaced by new head coach Marc Trestman, who will focus on building the team around the offense and quarterback Jay Cutler. Thanks to Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, Cutler has plenty of tools to work with as he heads into his contract year. Besides whether or not Trestman can successfully turn Cutler into a Super Bowl-winning quarterback, the biggest question surrounding the Bears is arguably the defense, which no longer will have Brian Urlacher (retirement) manning the middle. Chicago has aged on that side of the ball and will rely on a core of 30-plus veterans.
The Lions were busy this offseason adding the likes of free agents Reggie Bush and Glover Quin, as well as signing Matthew Stafford to a contract extension and selecting pass rusher "Ziggy" Ansah in the draft. With an improved running game and secondary, Detroit hopes that Stafford and Calvin Johnson now have enough around them to get back to the playoffs like the team did in 2011.
Finally, the Vikings reached the playoffs last year thanks to an improved defense and offensive line, as well as an unbelievable performance by MVP Adrian Peterson. This offseason, Minnesota signed Jennings after trading Percy Harvin to Seattle, and the hope is that things will finally click for third-year quarterback Christian Ponder. If they don't, they'll once again rely on Peterson to shoulder the load.
2013-14 NFC North Division Odds to Win
Green Bay Packers -160
Chicago Bears +350
Detroit Lions +500
Minnesota Vikings +600