NFL Futures – Odds to Win the NFC North

NFC North Odds

Odds to Win the NFC North provided by BetOnline

Known as the “black and blue division” for its gritty style of play and bitter rivalries, the NFC North may be softer than its reputation would let on.  It certainly doesn’t have the "three yards and a cloud of dust" mentality that it used to, but that doesn’t mean that the NFC North isn’t one of the most compelling divisions in football.  None of these teams have a recent history of making losing a habit.  These division odds are much closer than some of the other NFL futures lines out there for that reason.  Historically this is a very competitive division that ends up close in the standings when the season concludes.

Instead of the run-heavy days of old, the NFC North division is now pass heavy.  The division features several pass-heavy offenses that like to light up the scoreboard with high point total.   The Vikings and their bruising defense look to fend off the aerial attacks of the Packers and Lions.  Meanwhile the Bears look to regain respectability and should have success doing so this year.

Let’s jump in to our NFC North odds from BetOnline. This division title should come down to the wire which makes for a great NFL futures preview.

Odds to win the NFC North:

Odds as of 8/16/18 at BetOnline

Team
Odds to Win NFC North
Vikings+125
Packers+150
Lions+600
Bears+800

Minnesota Vikings

Odds to Win NFC North: +125

Cousins will need to be good for the Vikings to live up to steep expectations.

The Vikings have sky high expectations coming into 2018.  Anything short of their first Super Bowl since 1977 will be a disappointment for the Vikings after their strong 2017 campaign.  While Minnesota was one of the best stories in the NFL last season they are now expected to be one of the very best teams in the NFL. 

Last year the Vikings had the best defensive unit in the NFL in terms of both yards against and scoring.  The “Purple People Eaters” took the team all the way to the NFC Championship Game despite inconsistent QB play. All of that changes in 2018-19. The Vikings have added again.

Chief among the Vikings personnel moves are additions at the quarterback and offensive coordinator positions. Last year’s quarterback Case Keenum is off to Denver.  To replace him, the Vikings brought in Kirk Cousins and made him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in league history. 

2017-18 offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur left to become the head coach of the New York Giants.  John DeFilippo replaces him.

For better or worse, the Vikings future is tied to Cousins in a big way.  DeFillippo is very important too. After early jitters in preseason, the duo will have to show better when the games mean something in September.

As the Atlanta Falcons showed last season, losing an offensive coordinator is one of the most debilitating things that can happen to a team.  Changing a quarterback can be a big shift too. All of that at once could bring a lot of instability to an offense that was great at being just that in 2017; stable.

The Vikings offense massively helped their defense by stubbornly staying on the field and keeping possession away from opponents in 2017. Their 32:26 per game with the ball massively assisted in keeping the defense fresh and made the Vikings the dominant and turnover driver force that they are.

With Kirk Cousins spending a good portion of his time in Washington where he missed the playoffs every year, there is no guarantee that his high price tag will be worth it.  There really isn’t even a guarantee that Cousins will match the possession numbers that QBs put up last year for the Vikings.  He's known as a bit of a gunslinger.  Potentially all of the offensive switches the Redskins are going through could hurt the defense.

While the Vikings are transitioning the quarterback and the offense, their success this season will be graded on how they handle their schedule.  On paper, the Vikings do not have as favorable a schedule as they did in 2017. Last year Minnesota faced the Saints and Rams at home.  They are one of the best teams in football on their home turf but this year much of the hard work will occur on foreign turf.

This season, most of Minnesota's toughest games are away from home.  Their schedule includes road dates against the Patriots, Rams, and Eagles.  While the Seahawks don’t look like a great team, the Vikings get the luxury of traveling to the land of the 12th man to take on Seattle for Monday Night Football.  After all of that is done with, the Vikings have to take care of business in a bruising division during the winter months.

At +125 odds at BetOnline, the Vikings could be a real letdown for some bettors who expect them to dominate the way they did last season.  They could also be the darling of the NFL and go on to win the Super Bowl. 

It seems pretty clear that this team has a lot to overcome to match only a .25 value from the bookmakers.  You might as well bet on the Vikings to win the Super Bowl.

Vikings NFC North Champs +125

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Green Bay Packers

Odds to Win the NFC North: +150

Aaron Rodgers is back and best when he's on the field healthy.

The Packers were put into a tough spot when they lost Aaron Rodgers for the 2017 season.  To rub salt in the would, the loss came in a rivalry game against the eventual division champion Vikings. While Rodgers' injury essentially killed the team's season, there were plenty of flaws about the Packers and they were all out in the open well before Rodgers went down.  The world then received 11 weeks of the Brett Hundley experience and it's easy to forget what was really wrong with the Packers last season.

While Brett Hundley looked abysmal piloting the Packers, he didn’t get a ton of help from the defense.  Most of Green Bay’s flaws were on defense as the team finished with the 26th rank in points against and the 22nd rank in total yardage against.  Even when Rodgers was around for the 2017 campaign, the Packers allowed over 30 points on two different occasions. You can’t win when you're giving up 30+ points in ⅓ of your games.

Pass defense was especially bad for the Packers.  They were 29th in the league in Opponent Yards Per Pass Attempt and 23rd overall in Passing Yards Against.

The Packers have done a lot to make changes in the off-season.  Mike McCarthy decided a reset of mentality was needed and booted his longtime defensive coordinator Dom Capers after 9 years together.  Mike Petitine has a lot to accomplish after coming over from the Bills but doesn't know much else but success. His last two gigs at both the Jets and Bills never produced a defense that wasn’t in the top 10.  Mike McCarthy has said outwardly that he wants his defensive to be better than his offense this season.

In terms of personnel, Green Bay has tried to address their defensive backfield in the draft.  They added Jaire Alexander from Louisville and Josh Alexander from Iowa with their first two selections in the NFL draft.  Outside of that, the Packers haven’t done much but “change their mentality.” Bounce back seasons from HaHa Clinton-Dix and Ryan Matthews will be needed to right the ship for the Packers.

The betting public loves the Packers thanks to Rodgers, public ownership, and a huge fan base. There are some better division winner wagers out there than backing this flawed team at 3/2 odds.

Packers NFC North Champs +150

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Detroit Lions

Odds to Win the NFC North: +500

Matt Stafford is a top 10 QB in the NFL.

The Detroit Lions are an interesting bet to win the NFC North at +500 odds with BetOnline.  Detroit had some rough luck last season. Unfortunately for Lions fans, that feels like something that has been said every year for the past 50 years and it can scare bettors when looking at odds to win the NFC North for the Lions.  

Detroit’s last-second loss against the Falcons was excruciating and almost expected.  Some would say it was “same old Lions.” After a ten-second runoff was applied due to a video review, the Lions season was lost on a technicality at its most crucial moment.  Of course, a season comes down to much more than one moment.  That's likely why we saw change out of the Ford family and the city of Detroit this off-season.

The primary changes in Detroit come in the coaching staff.  Instead of their division rivals’ situation where only a coordinator was replaced, the Lions are replacing their head coach and nearly their entire coaching staff.  Matt Patricia now heads the Lions in an attempt to restore the roar after 6 seasons with the New England Patriots as their defensive coordinator.  

While the Patriots didn’t have a great defense last year, they were known to overachieve and keep points off of the board.  That had been a staple of all of Patricia’s defenses and should help the Lions a lot in a division that traditionally sports good to great defenses.

Defense is where the Lions carry the bulk of their issues.  The front seven doesn’t do much outside of Ziggy Ansah to help a pretty good secondary.  There you can find the darting eyes of Pro Bowler Darius Slay who leads a great set of corner backs and safeties.

The scheme is shifting to a 3-4 so who knows what the Lions will look like once the season starts. In a division with Aaron Rodgers in it, a pass rush is almost required to win. Until Detroit can get that figured out, they may be doomed.

From a coaching standpoint, the Lions do lose something in Caldwell.  While criticized, the man saw the Lions back to winning ways they hadn’t seen in a long time and 9-7 is always a tough way to be shown the door.  His offensive mind turned Matt Stafford into a top 10 QB and that will be missed. 

Luckily for the Lions, they retain the services of Jim Bob Cooter as offensive coordinator in a major holdover from the old regime.  Cooter should provide stability with his offensive system and coaching methods.  Detroit had a good offense, and Cooter is a nice name to keep for Stafford's happiness.  He's bloomed under his tutelage.   

Cooter's offense will take a more balanced approach with Patricia at the helm and Bob Quinn drafting and acquiring personnel.  LeGarrette Blount joins rookie Kerryon Johnson out of Auburn as a new one-two combination that has shown bite in preseason.  The Lions are beginning a post-Patriots regime and can be expected to be a much better running team because of the personnel and strategy changes they have made.

The offense is the real wildcard this year.  It could propel the team to great heights and a top finish on its own with how good it could be.  Stafford is a top-tier quarterback in the league. His weapons in the new running back corps, along with receivers Marvin Jones and Golden Tate, make the Lions offense good enough to put up plenty of points.

Stafford’s consistency and the consistency of his protection are what normally trip Detroit up, but the margin for error for the offense will be even smaller this season if the defense can’t come out strong.

Patricia is the wild card and that’s why you’re seeing their odds at 5/1 at BetOnline.  This could be a good value bet.

Lions NFC North Champs +500

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Chicago Bears

Odds to Win the NFC North: +800

All hope is with Mitchell Trubinsky for the Bears.

The Bears are an interesting team this season, but they are going to have to beat the odds if they want to secure the NFC North title.  Chicago has suffered four straight seasons of double digit losses and four straight seasons as the NFC North’s 4th place cellar dweller.  While the Lions are happy to have moved out of the basement, the Bears have seen a streak that is unlike them.

The Bears are eager to change their positioning in the NFC North and have given themselves a major facelift by hiring a 40 year old head coach in Matt Nagy.  Considered a massive gamble, Nagy will likely be the last hire for GM Ryan Pace. If this doesn’t work, the Bears will be looking for a new GM in addition to a new head coach.  

There are a lot of reasons to like Nagy and you can see why Pace took a gamble on shaking up the culture.  A large diversion from John Fox’s calculated and unemotional nature, Nagy is exactly the opposite. The man is a world beater in every sense of the world.  

Signed as a street free agent to the Arena League, Nagy made himself a career and parlayed it into coaching jobs with the Chiefs and Eagles.  He's a great example of how the man can strike when the iron is hot.

An opportunist, Nagy took over play-calling duties from Andy Reid in December of the 2017 season. The next 5 games the Chiefs went 4-1 and averaged nearly 30 points per contest.

The Bears are being projected by many to be better than they were last season. It isn’t hard to see why, as the team could be following the blueprint of last year’s Los Angeles Rams. Mitchell Trubisky will be entering at quarterback in his second season as a pro.  In the same way the Rams saw success with a second-year QB Jared Goff and rookie head coach Sean McVay calling the offensive plays last season, the Bears are hoping to capture similar success with their new quarterback and coach combo.

Nagy spent years as one of the best quarterbacks in Arena Football League history, which means that he knows offensive football. The organization’s decision to focus on the offense with their coaching hire after drafting a quarterback so high means that they have their priorities in order, and they could make a big jump this season.  

At +800 odds, we get why Chicago would be an enticing bet this season for online sportsbook players.  We just don’t know if it will be for the division crown.

Bears NFC North Champs +800

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Odds to Win the NFC North - Free Futures Pick

Detroit Lions

Odds to Win the NFC North: +500

The Lions defense is a real wildcard in 2018, and that makes 5 to 1 odds attractive.

There isn’t much value at the top of this division.  The Vikings might be due to regress and the Packers are always overvalued thanks to the presence of Rodgers. The Bears should see a big improvement on the offensive side of the ball and their defense should improve as well.  Even with the progress though, we can’t really see Chicago figuring it out all in time to win one of the tougher divisions in football.

The Lions offer the most talent at the best odds in this division.  If we’re looking at this as an investment, that’s probably the best place to put our money for good return on a reasonably-likely thing occurring.

The Lions will completely change a defensive scheme that hurt them last year.  Pass rushing be damned from 2017, we have no idea how much pressure the Lions will get with four linebackers.  In the same way a rookie pitcher stifles a batting order, the Lions new defensive layout could be hard to predict.  

Want more ammunition for the Lions having an unpredictable defense that could be great or could be horrible?  The Lions added three new linebackers in Jonathan Freeny from the Saints, Christian Jones from the Bears, and perhaps most importantly Devon Kennard from the Giants who can edge rush too.

Matt Patricia was brought to Detroit for one thing: defense.  Because of that, it's a safe bet that the Lions will be improved on that side of the ball.

Jim Bob Cooter didn’t leave, and that’s perhaps the biggest story of the off-season for the Lions.  It’s a huge part of this pick. With personnel virtually unchanged and the run game improving, it’s hard not to see the Lions continuing to crush defenses.

A better run game makes the Lions absolutely deadly on offense.  The team averaged a #2 league rank of 9.6 yards per play action play.  Their rank came with the #32 ranked rushing offense in the NFL this season.  It only gets more productive with new talent.

At 5 to 1, we can see the Lions winning this division.  Take the +500 odds at BetOnline and don’t look back!

Click on the following for more articles and NFL previews.  If you want to check out some top online sportsbook picks, we have a great section for you here.

We’re just weeks away from the NFL season.  Good luck out there everyone and don’t forget about our MLB free picks.  While the long dead season drags on we continue to win.

Lions NFC North Champs +500

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