NFC North NFL 2018 Season Predictions And Betting Picks
For those NFL fans who love to gamble, its been a terrific year.
Thats because on May 14, 2018, the United States Supreme Court overturned the federal ban on gambling known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).
Now instead of having to go to Las Vegas to bet on professional and college football games, gamblers will be able to go to their local betting parlors and casinos in whichever state they live to place whatever NFL bets they like.
Unfortunately, though, thats going to take a little more time to get set up.
So until all those new American parlors and casinos are put in place (and they will be!), online betting will continue to rule.
However and wherever you choose to place your bets, the 2018 NFL season will provide fans with plenty of opportunities to gamble, so we thought wed offer a little help in that department.
This article series lists the current odds posted at four of the top online NFL betting sites:
- BETOnline (BO)
- Intertops (IT)
- SPORTSBetting (SB)
- GT Bets (GT)
Weve included the betting odds for every team in each NFL division, their chances of winning their division, their conference and the Super Bowl. But remember, odds can change, so be sure to check whats actually listed online before placing any bets.
Only gamble what you can afford to lose but study the odds to keep your losing to a minimum and shop around for the best odds to keep your winning to a maximum.
This is the NFC North
Up until the mid-70s all NFC North home games were played in the cold, so it became known as the Frostbite Division. But in 2017, the Minnesota Vikings and Detroit Lions showed why its also known as the Black and Blue Division both teams went 5-1 against their divisional competition, their solo losses coming from each other.
The Vikings came within one game of the Super Bowl, but got pummeled by the eventual champion Philadelphia Eagles, 38-7. Odds makers have Minnesota repeating as NFC North champs thanks to their new highly paid quarterback and ramped-up defense.
The second place Detroit Lions posted a 9-7 record but failed to make the playoffs and it cost head coach Jim Caldwell his job. The next day after the Super Bowl, the Lions hired Matt Patricia from the New England Patriots to get the job done.
The Green Bay Packers 2017 went downhill once franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone in Week 6 against the Vikings they lost 8 out of the 11 remaining games and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Now Rodgers is healthy and with new coordinators on both sides of the Packers ball, you can bet Green Bay will be making a legitimate run at the playoffs.
2017 was the Chicago Bears fourth consecutive losing season. Their record during that run was 14-34 overall, so general manager Ryan Pace let head coach John Fox and his offensive coordinator go and brought in Matt Nagy and Mark Helfrich to help their second-year quarterback turn the team around.
The Minnesota Vikings (+1200 to win SB LIII)
Losing to the Eagles 38-7 in that final game was a bitter way for the Vikings to end their 2017 season. General manager Rick Spielman and fifth-year head coach Mike Zimmer spent the offseason fixing the problems that kept their already excellent team from winning that game.
Their assessment: the Vikings were one franchise quarterback and one pass rusher away from the Super Bowl so thats exactly what they made happen.
Is Cousins the answer?
Free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins ranked 94th on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018 list after passing for over 4,000 yards and 27 TDs with 13 picks and running for 179 yards and 4 more TDs last season for the Washington Redskins.
Since Spielman had spent several seasons making $53 million in salary cap space, he was able to sign Cousins for $84 million over three-years, giving him the first ever fully guaranteed and highest paying contract in NFL history.
The gamble is whether he and new offensive coordinator John DeFilippo can gel together quickly enough to actually win some games.
Richardson fix only temporary
Veteran defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who made 15 starts in 15 games for the Seahawks and posted a total of 44 tackles (27 solo), 1 sack, 1 pass defended, 1 interception and a forced fumble, was signed to a one-year deal.
Richardson will join fifth year defensive coordinator George Edwards solid Vikings defense that only allowed opponents to score 15.8 points per game, best in the league. That includes 2nd team All Pro defensive end Everson Griffen as well as defensive end Danielle Hunter, who had 7 sacks last season and 12.5 the year before.
The Vikings sacked opponents quarterbacks 37 times last season.
Vikings D still top notch
Returning are All Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes (56 combined tackles and 2 INTs) and hard hitting All Pro safety Harrison Smith (78 combined, 1.5 sacks and 5 INTs), both part of a Vikings secondary that allowed only 192.4 passing yards per game, second best in the NFL.
2x Pro Bowl linebacker Chad Greenway has retired, so Anthony Barr will fill the hole and join middle linebacker Eric Kendricks, who had 113 combined tackles, a sack and a pick last year.
Spielman also used the draft to select UCF cornerback Mike Hughes in the first round. An aggressive interceptor, Hughes also excels in the return game, averaging 31.8 yards per kickoff return.
Since a lot of player contracts will be coming up soon, the Vikings have to win now, but the big gamble is whether Cousins will be the man to lead them to a Super Bowl victory. Having a healed Dalvin Cook in the backfield does make it a much sweeter bet, though.
Odds that the Minnesota Vikings will win:
The NFC North: BO: +115, IT: +125, SB: +115, GT: +120
The NFC Championship: BO: +550, IT: +600, SB: +550, GT: +600
The Super Bowl: BO: +1000, IT: +1200, SB: +1000, GT: +1100
The Detroit Lions (+5000 to win SB LIII)
The Detroit Lions went 9-7 last year and their offense was ranked 13th in the league, but thats only because quarterback Matthew Staffords sixth ranked passing attack produced 261.4 yards per game.
Compare that to the running game that gained only 76.3 yards per game (worst in the league), and the problem with the fifth-year offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooters offense becomes obvious.
General manager Bob Quinn spent the offseason working on building up the run.
Two backs brought in
The Lions signed Super Bowl LII winner LeGarrette Blount to a one year, $4.5 million deal. Last season for the Eagles, Blount ran 173 times for 766 yards and 2 TDs and caught 8 balls for 50 yards and a touchdown in the regular season. In his 3 postseason games, Blount ran for 130 yards and 3 TDs.
Blount will probably take most of the snaps until Kerryon Johnson, the powerful Auburn running back drafted in the second round, can get his NFL legs. Last season, Johnson ran the ball 285 times for 1,391 yards and 18 TDs and caught 24 balls for 194 yards and 2 TDs.
At training camp, Blount mentioned a different teammate, calling the veteran Stafford a really good quarterback.
Stafford still solid after a decade
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been a Lion for all ten of his NFL seasons. For the last seven years, hes averaged 4,453 passing yards and 28 TDs per season. Last year the only two quarterbacks who were ranked higher than him in passing yards were Tom Brady and Phillip Rivers.
The problem: Stafford was sacked 47 times (only five teams allowed more), so to help protect him better, second year general manager Bob Quinn drafted Arkansas center Frank Ragnow in the first round to replace departing free agent Travis Swanson. Ragnow didnt allow a single sack his entire time as a starter.
The Detroit defense under new leadership
The Lions defense was ranked 27th last season, so Paul Pasqaloni was hired as the new defensive coordinator. Hes been given Alabama defensive end DaShawn Hand, who gives the Lions an option on the defensive line in multiple spots.
The Lions placed the franchise tag on defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who had a big 2017 with 44 tackles and 12 sacks. Hell get paid $17.5 million in 2018.
All-Rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis is returning after a big 2017 combining for 96 tackles, 2 sacks and an interception. All-Pro cornerback Darius Big Play Slay hopes for a repeat of his 2017 when he combined for 60 tackles and had 8 interceptions, which ranked 2nd in the league.
With an improved run game and defense, the Lions are a decent bet to do better than last season, but the odds dont favor any championships for Detroit in 2018.
Odds that the Detroit Lions will win:
The NFC North: BO: +550, IT: +650, SB: +550, GT: +640
The NFC Championship: BO: +2000, IT: +2000, SB: +2000, GT: +2500
The Super Bowl: BO: +4000, IT: +4000, SB: +4000, GT: +5000
The Green Bay Packers (+1400 to win SB LIII)
The only thing that kept the 2017 Green Bay Packers from a certain spot in the postseason was a season-ending injury to their franchise quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Heres a solid bet – Rodgers broken collarbone is healed and hes going to do the same thing as he did in 2014, the last time he returned from a similar injury: bring the team to a 12-4 record and an NFC Championship appearance while personally scoring the MVP award.
Or at least thats the plan.
Packer offense solid as ever, even without Nelson
Rodgers favorite target Jordy Nelson is gone, but free agent Jimmy Graham (SEA) was signed to (sort of) fill his shoes. For a three-year, $30 million deal, Graham brings playoff experience and great hands last year he caught 57 passes for 520 yards and 10 TDs.
Returning wide receivers Davante Adams (74 catches for 885 yards and 10 TDs last season), Randall Cobb (66 catches for 653 yards and 4 TDs) and Geronimo Allison (23 catches for 253 yards) will see even bigger numbers with Rodgers behind center.
But can the offense come together under new leadership?
New (old) offensive coordinator
Head coach Mike McCarthy, whos in his 13th season, brought back offensive coordinator Joe Philbin, who was the Packers OC from 2007 until 2011 before he was hired away as the Dolphins head coach.
Philbin and a healthy Rodgers have a lot to work with, including speedy 2nd-year running back Aaron Jones, who ran for 488 yards in 2017 and 4 TDs last season. But heads up – Jones wont play the first two games of the season due to a suspension from violating the leagues substance abuse policy.
Signed free agent tight end Marcedes Lewis, about to play his 13th season, scored a one-year, $2.1 million contract with the Packers. In 2017 for Jacksonville he caught 24 balls for 318 yards and 5 TDs.
Rodgers must be protected
Backup quarterback Brett Hundley, who started for the injured Rodgers, was sacked 29 times. Green Bay allowed 51 sacks in 2017, which was 30th in the NFL and not a good sign that the franchise quarterback is safe.
Regardless, the same offensive line returns including second team All Pro tackle David Bakhtiari, who was #91 on the list of Top 100 Players of 2018 as voted by his peers.
First year general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted Wash State tackle Cole Madison to play guard and give the line more versatility and signed free agent tackle Byron Bell (DAL) to fill in for tackle Brian Bulaga, whos still healing his torn ACL. At training camp, McCarthy has said to the media that Bulaga looks great and didnt express any doubts that hell be ready to go for Week 1.
Its a safe bet that a healthy Rodgers will lead his Packers back to glory, and the odds makers seem to agree.
Odds that the Green Bay Packers will win:
The NFC North: BO: +150, IT: +125, SB: +150, GT: +150
The NFC Championship: BO: +800, IT: +550, SB: +800, GT: +650
The Super Bowl: BO: +1400, IT: +900, SB: +1400, GT: +1300
The Chicago Bears (+10000 to win SB LIII)
After the Chicago Bears starting quarterback Mike Glennon got off to a 13 start, they used their rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and ended up a disappointing 5-11.
Now with the former offensive coordinator for the Chiefs Mike Nagy as the new head coach and the 10th ranked defense still strong, the Bears are looking towards a second-year Trubisky to lead them back to the playoffs.
The gamble is whether hes ready.
Now Trubisky has targets
Last season the rookie Trubisky put up some very rookie-esque numbers: he only threw for 175.7 yards per game (last in the league) and for the season threw for 2,193 yards and 7 TDs but with 7 picks on top of 10 fumbles, 3 of which he lost. Hes shown a better understanding of the offense in training camp and has stepped into the leadership role.
And now Trubisky has some new wide receivers and a tight end to throw to:
- Allen Robinson (JAX) who missed 2017 with an injury;
- Taylor Gabriel (ATL) whos hoping Chicago will be the steady home hes been searching for;
- Anthony Miller (Memphis), drafted in the second round – considered a steal and should be an instant contributor on offense in the slot;
- Tight end Trey Burton (PHI) who caught 23 passes for 248 yards and 5 touchdowns last season.
The Bears have a running game
Running back Jordon Howard had an impressive 2017 running for 1,122 yards and 9 TDs, which successfully followed up his rookie season numbers: 1,313 yards and 6 TDs.
General manager Ryan Pace drafted center James Daniels (Iowa) in the second round to possibly play left guard and solidify the inside of the offensive line to create bigger holes for Howard and to keep Trubisky safe after allowing 39 sacks last season.
Chicagos defense solid again
Despite defensive coordinator Vic Fangios defense being ranked 10th in the league last season, Pace still felt the need to improve by drafting outside linebacker Roquan Smith (Georgia) in the first round while adding pass rusher Aaron Lynch, an outside linebacker from the San Francisco 49ers. Smith, whos been a financial holdout at training camp, is expected to contribute Week 1.
Add to that cornerbacks Kyle Fuller (69 combined tackles and 2 picks) and Prince Amukamara (45 combined tackles) and its a safe bet that the Bears pass defense will be just as effective as it was in 2017 when they only allowed 211.1 passing yards per game, 7th best in the NFL.
The Bears 2018 schedule is tied for 8th toughest and theyre starting a potentially excellent but still very young quarterback and running back, so 2018 might not be the best year to bet on Chicago to rule.
Odds that the Chicago Bears will win:
The NFC North: BO: +800, IT: +800, SB: +800, GT: +800
The NFC Championship: BO: +5000, IT: +5000, SB: +5000, GT: +3500
The Super Bowl: BO: +10000, IT: +10000, SB: +10000, GT: +7000