NFC North: Detroit Lions Eye First Division Title in 30 Years

Posted on: August 29, 2023, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: August 29, 2023, 02:20h.

The Detroit Lions are the betting favorite to win the NFC North at +140 odds, and the defending division champion Minnesota Vikings aren’t far behind at +290 odds.

Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff consults with head coach Dan Campbell during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. (Image: Getty)

According to DraftKings’ divisional futures, the NFC North is the tightest race in the NFL with teams clustered between +140 and +400 odds. The Green Bay Packers are the long shot to win the NFC North at +400 odds, and the Chicago Bears are a smidge ahead of them at +380 odds.

The Vikings won the division in 2022 and denied the Packers a fourth-straight NFC North crown.

The Bears last won the NFC North in 2018 and claimed only two division titles since 2010. In the previous dozen years, the Packers won the NFC North eight times while the Vikings won the division three times.

The Lions have never won the NFC North title since the NFL modified divisions 20 years ago. The Lions last won a division title in the former NFC Central back in 1993.

Detroit Lions: On Cusp of First NFC North Crown

  • NFC North Odds: +140
  • Super Bowl Odds: +2200
  • 2022 Record: 9-8
  • 2023 Win Total: 9.5 o/u

The Lions posted their first winning season in four years under head coach Dan Campbell. It marked the franchise’s only fifth winning season since 2000.

The Lions bubbled a playoff berth in 2022 and they’re now on a mission to win a division title, and their first playoff game since the 1991 season.

The Lions were finally recognized as the better team in 2022. Oddsmakers installed the Lions as a betting favorite for the first time in 24 games during a Week 2 game against the Washington Commanders.

Betting the Lions was a profitable venture in 2022. They were 12-5 against the spread last season and 23-11 ATS over the last two seasons.

The Lions were 5-1 in division games last season. The San Francisco 49ers were the only team with a better division record with a perfect 6-0 in the NFC West.

The Lions were the fifth highest-scoring team (26.6 ppg) in the NFL last season with Jared Goff at quarterback. Then again, the Lions had to win shootouts due to their lackluster defense.

Their defense allowed 427 points and was tied for the third-most points allowed (25.1 ppg) in the NFL last season. They signed cornerback Cameron Sutton and defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to bolster their porous secondary. They also drafted linebacker Jack Campbell in the first round and safety Brian Branch in the second round.

On the offensive side, the Lions selected Alabama’s Jahmyr Gibbs with the #12 pick in the draft. Gibbs is expected to make a big impact as a rookie running back.

Minnesota Vikings: Was Last Year a Fluke?

  • NFC North Odds: +290
  • Super Bowl Odds: +3500
  • 2022 Record: 13-4
  • 2023 Win Total: 8.5 o/u

The Vikings won the NFC last season with a 13-4 record, but 11 of their games were decided by eight points or less. The Vikings were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Giants, which supported the theory that the Vikings’ 13-win season was deceptive. The 2022 Vikings were more like a Potemkin army and less like a ferocious gang of invading marauders.

The Vikings were 8-1 at home last season and were tied with the Dallas Cowboys and the 49ers for the best home record in the NFL in 2022. They have eight home games in 2023 and could post a losing record on their home turf.

Oddsmakers installed the Vikings with a win total of 8.5 o/u due to a tough schedule. They host nondivisional home games against the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, and 49ers. The Vikings will be tested on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles and Cincinnati Bengals.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is in the final year of his current restructured contract, so he’s auditioning for another big contract. Cousins has the benefit of throwing deep balls to Justin Jefferson, who is regarded as the top wide receiver in the NFL.

The Vikings also drafted Jordan Addison with a first-round pick out of USC. Addison is considered one of the top incoming rookie wide receivers.

The Vikings are +230 odds to win the NFC North in back-to-back seasons, but they’re in the middle of the pack to win the Super Bowl at +3500 odds.

Green Bay Packers: The Post-Aaron Rodgers Era Begins

  • NFC North Odds: +380
  • Super Bowl Odds: +6500
  • 2022 Record: 8-9
  • 2023 Win Total: 7.5 o/u

One chapter ends. A new one begins. For the first time since the early 1990s, the Packers start a season without Aaron Rodgers or Bret Favre at quarterback. The franchise has been blessed with two generational superstars at the helm over the last three decades.

Rodgers and the Packers finally split after several unhappy seasons when the Packers traded Rodgers to the New York Jets. The Packers finally get a chance to see if Jordan Love is ready to become the next franchise quarterback in Green Bay. Love is the big question mark, and he started only one game in his career. The pressure is on Love, but then again, Rodgers only went 6-10 in his first season as a starter in Green Bay when he replaced Favre in 2008.

Head coach Matt LaFleur is also eager to finally run his offense after having to defer to Rodgers in the last few seasons. The Packers won 13 games in three consecutive seasons during LaFleur’s first three years in Green Bay. The team went 8-9 last season and LaFleur missed the playoffs for the first time as a head coach.

The Packers are in rebuilding mode this season and they have a win total of 7.5 o/u. In the first season without Rodgers, the Cheeseheads will view anything as a success so long as they don’t finish in last place in the NFC North.

Chicago Bears: Da Bears Get Back on Track

  • NFC North Odds: +400
  • Super Bowl Odds: +5000
  • 2022 Record: 3-14
  • 2023 Win Total: 7.5 o/u

The Bears were the worst team in the NFL last season with a 3-14 record. They already had a quarterback with Justin Fields, so they took advantage of desperate teams in search of a quarterback and traded down in the 2023 NFL Draft.

After a slow start, Fields showed promise late in the season as soon as rookie head coach Matt Eberflus installed specific running plays for the dual-threat quarterback. Fields, entering his third season, has yet to pass for more than 300 yards in a game. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy knows that Fields must open up the passing game this season if the Bears expect to climb out of the NFC North basement.

The Bears have a solid wide receiver room with DJ Moore, Chase Claypool, Darnell Mooney, and Equanimeous St. Brown. They also added former Packers tight end Robert Tonyan to play behind starter Cole Kmet.

The Bears upgraded their shaky offensive line and drafted tackle Darnell Wright from Tennessee with the #10 pick in the draft. They also signed guard Nate Davis in free agency.

The Bears will start Khalil Herbert at running back, but they’re on the list of potential trade partners with the Indianapolis Colts for the unhappy Jonathan Taylor.

The Bears were swept in divisional play with a 0-6 record against NFC North teams in 2022. They enter this season with a win total of 7.5 o/u, and oddsmakers think the Bears could double their total wins from last season.

The Bears are in the middle of the pack at +5000 odds to win the Super Bowl, which is astonishing for a team that had just three wins last season.