When Aaron Rodgers, with the help of a monstrous contract, decided to return to the Green Bay Packers it looked like the NFC North race was already over.
The Packers have won three NFC North championships in a row. The Packers may not be as good as previous years, but the rest of the division is not positioned to beat them.
The Packers are the third biggest favorite to win their division in BetMGM’s odds, behind only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Buffalo Bills. That appeals to the rest of the NFC North as much as the power of the Packers.
Packers favorite to win NFC North
The Packers lead the NFC North odds by a significant difference.
Minnesota Vikings +275
Chicago bears +900
Detroit Lions +900
The Packers still have a strong team, although they have had a huge hit in the off-season. Green Bay traded Davante Adams, arguably the greatest receiver in football and one of the most valuable non-quarterbacks in the NFL, to the Las Vegas Raiders. Green Bay didn’t do much to replace him. They signed the dodgy Sammy Watkins and drafted Christian Watson, who made the switch from FCS North Dakota State in the second round. It’s an odd combination: the NFL’s back-to-back MVP with one of the thinnest receiver rooms in the league.
The Packers are still good on the offensive line, at backtracking and they made moves to improve the defense. If the loss of Adams and maybe a little bit of regression from a 13-4 season knocks the Packers back a bit, it wouldn’t be a big surprise.
But they can step back and still win the division.
Who can topple the Packers?
Even if the Packers aren’t as good as the last two seasons when they got back-to-back No. 1 seeds in the NFC, who would you trust to beat them?
The Vikings have the second best odds, and maybe a change of coaching could help. They fired Mike Zimmer and hired former Rams assault coordinator Kevin O’Connell. But Minnesota has been stuck in mediocrity for a while now. They did well in free agency, but there should still be questions about whether the roster, with a starting head coach, can outdo the Packers.
The bears and lions are further behind. The Bears seem to be rebuilding slowly and haven’t invested much to get sophomore quarterback Justin Fields help. Chicago also has its first head coach in Matt Eberflus. The Lions were more competitive than expected last season, but there’s still a reason why the Lions finished second overall from this year’s draft. There are reasons to believe the Lions could improve this season, but it’s hard to buy them past the Packers. Maybe the Lions are a little interesting at 9-to-1 odds, but it’s still the Lions.
It’s hard to stand a -175 chance of the Packers winning the division given a few vulnerabilities. It’s even harder to find a team that you can see taking them out.