Breaking Down the NFC North for the 2018 Season

By Loot, NFL Handicapper,

In 2017, the Minnesota Vikings ran away with the NFC North with a 13-3 record. They were the only team to make the playoffs, though the Lions were close with a 9-7 mark. The Packers took a step back due to injuries and inconsistency at 7-9 and face a crossroads campaign in 2018 where the stakes are high. The Bears look to become an up-and-coming force in the division and improve upon a 5-win season in 2017. Let’s look at what’s to like and not like about each team, as we make our over/under season wins totals picks for the upcoming 2018 NFL regular season.

Chicago Bears (5-11 last season)
Growing force at QB in Mitch Trubisky
Top running back in Jordan Howard
Added Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Benny Fowler and rookie Anthony Miller on offense
Potential difference-maker at LB in rookie Roquan Smith
Coming off potential impact-draft
Could TE Zach Miller or WR Kevin White contribute?
Rising young talent on both sides of ball
Defense serviceable last season without much support on other side
Was Fox holding them back?
Revamped coaching staff
Schedule very negotiable in spots
Need a lot of stars to line up right to make this offense strong
Offense dead-last through the air last season
A few bad injuries away from disaster
Offensive line and lack of weapons hold Trubisky and Howard back
Did they not address O-line enough?
Are there too many holes on offense?
Did they do enough to break out of this latest funk?
Loot’s Pick for O/U Wins: Under 6.5 at +115. They will be better and generally tough week in and week out. And there will be some nice spots throughout the season to get the Bears at good value. But 7 wins seems a little high in their realistic range of success this season.


Detroit Lions (9-7 last season)
Could have relevant run-game with rookie Johnson and Blount
Playmaking ability on defense developing
Youth movement manifesting on “D”
Stafford keeps getting better, at least statistically
Huge-leg place kicker in Prater can make difference in close ones
Nice turnover margin last season, look for more this year
Pieces to work with on defense
Good additions on defense
Good job on draft—added first-round center in Ragnow and good RB in Johnson
Depth on offense with no real difference-makers
Tougher division, schedule looks difficult on paper
Tend to go into bad funks with up-and-down nature
Is Patricia a right fit?
Is Stafford overrated?
Did they put too many resources in their QB?
Couldn’t stop run well last season
If run doesn’t resonate, are there enough difference-makers to keep them afloat?
Loot’s Pick for O/U Wins: Under 7.5 wins at -120. This could be the season things click in Detroit, but we see this latest formula for success needing more time to manifest.

Green Bay Packers (7-9 last season)
Could have enhanced tools around Rodgers with Graham, Lewis, and some rookies
Still expect to win with Rodgers in there
Will new coordinators help?
Opportunity to get off to a good start on schedule
Will fewer expectations actually suit them?
Some nice young receivers could manifest
Healthier team could be better able to deliver
Added some depth in the trenches
Defense took step back last season
Roster looks like Rodgers and a lot of other guys around him
Increasing age in some key areas
Still fragile if Rodgers goes down
Run-game not strong and unaddressed
Lot of mediocrity on both sides of ball
Pass-rush looks iffy
Nucleus of team is aging
Issues and youth in the secondary
Schedule gets tough after negotiable beginning to season
Division could be tough
Loot’s Pick for O/U Wins: Under 10 wins at -130. If Rodgers remains healthy, they still can be a good team. On paper, however, there’s a lot less to like about the Packers than other teams with double-digit win expectations. The schedule sets up for a nice start, but should their win-expectancy really be the same as the Vikings?

Minnesota Vikings (13-3 last season)
Top coaching across the board
Could have QB in Kirk Cousins
Good young back in Dalvin Cook who is healthy
Massive depth and playmaking on defense
Added juice on secondary and O-line through draft
Won 13 games last season and have better QB this season
Finished with a 12-1 close to last season
Almost everyone returns
Great home-field advantage
While depth exists on offense, do they have enough playmaking ability?
Has approach and philosophy been too defense-heavy?
Will Cousins be the upgrade everyone anticipates?
Can Cook hold up over a whole season?
Will new formula for success on offense resonate?
Schedule is tough throughout the season, with very tough start
Will things shake out as well as they did last season?
Loot’s Pick for O/U Wins: Over 10 at -120. On one hand, they won 13 last season mostly without Cook and a worse QB, so with a healthy RB and a better QB in Cousins, over ten seems like a slam-dunk. But a learning curve on offense and a brutal schedule means they will have to grind hard to get into double-digit win territory this season. Did you know… that you could be wagering on games at discounted odds? There’s a better than good chance that you’re laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to BetAnySports Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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