The NFC North has two clear-cut favorites, and two interesting teams. The Packers and Vikings should be fighting for the division title, but don’t underestimate the Bears and an improved Lions team. They used the No. 1 pick in 2009 on a promising quarterback, and their 2010 No. 2 pick on a defensive playmaker.
They are young, but they have the talent to surprise. The division might be more open than a quick glance at the teams makes you think.
Here is a look at the odds to win the 2010 NFC North title:
All Odds Taken From Bodog and Bookmaker, be sure to shop around for the best price.
Green Bay Packers (+130)
With the question about Brett Favre’s decision on whether or not to return for another season in Minnesota answered, the Packers are the favorite to win the NFC North. They played solid football and made the playoffs with a great finish to the 2009 season.
And the Packers have improved noticeably in the offseason. They filled for of their five biggest needs through the draft. They needed a left tackle and drafted Bryan Bulaga out of Iowa at 23. Bulaga should have gone earlier and was a steal this late.
They needed a strong safety and drafted Morgan Burnett. They needed depth for both lines, and they addressed that too. They drafted guard Marshall Newhouse on the offensive side, and defensive lineman Mike Neal.
They let Aaron Kampman go, but that was their only big name loss. Cornerbacks Al Harris (35) and Charles Woodson (34) are getting old, and will have to prove they can live up to high expectations.
The Packers won seven of their final right games last season and looked like a great team. They didn’t lose anybody besides Kampman and added more talent. They are the team to beat in the North.
Minnesota Vikings (+150)
The Vikings finished atop the division last year, and didn’t lose any important players. Cornerback Cedric Griffin tore his ACL in the NFC Championship game and won’t be available at the start of the season. The Vikings addressed this in the offseason through the draft and free agency. They drafted Chris Cook out of Virginia and signed experienced Lito Sheppard.
Minnesota needed running back depth after Chester Taylor moved on to the Bears. They drafted Toby Gerhart, who will be a solid backup for superstar Adrian Pederson. They added depth at various other positions and look like a strong team.
The biggest question for Minnesota is: Did Brett Favre make the right move by coming back? They could be in trouble if he comes back, but can’t repeat his 2009 performance. He will be 41 in October after all. And he just had another surgery.
Who is going to lead the team if Favre doesn’t play well or get hurt? They are stuck with Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels. Neither of them will be able to lead this team to any success. On top of that, the Williams Wall is still waiting for the league’s final word on their suspensions. They could miss four games if the league is allowed to suspend them.
The Vikings are a great team if Favre can do what he did last year, but there are many uncertainties surrounding them. They could win the NFC North, but there are too many question marks to take them at +150. For more certain plays, get on board for one of Maddux Sports’ NFL Pick packages.
Chicago Bears (+300)
The Bears didn’t have many selections in the 2009 draft. They used their first two picks on Jay Cutler and the late Gaines Adams. They did address some major needs in the offseason, and added a playmaker on defense in Julius Peppers.
While Peppers has slowed down a little, his production will still help the Bears immensely on defense. They also drafted Corey Wootton to add more depth at defensive end. They signed Chester Taylor for running back depth, and drafted Major Wright to improve at free safety.
They lack a No. 1 receiver, and failed to add one in the offseason. Devin Aromashodu looked promising, but he is not the playmaker Jay Cutler needs. Neither is Devin Hester. They did add Brandon Manumaleuna at TE to give Cutler another weapon.
The Bears need to protect Cutler better and up their game in several areas on the field, but they are not without a chance of surprising in this division, depending on the Favre situation. I’m not sure +300 is the greatest value, but don’t write off the Bears too soon.
Detroit Lions (+1500)
The Lions are the dark horse here. But the +1500 line makes them worth a look. It might be a little too early for them to win the division, but they are on the rise. Second-year quarterback has shown some gutsy play and will improve with one season under his belt.
They drafted Ndamukong Suh, and have added a playmaker on both sides of the ball in the last two years. The Lions also picked up Jahvid Best, a much needed option at running back. They traded for Chris Houston to make their secondary better, and added a solid No. 2 wide receiver in Nate Burleson.
Detroit also signed Kyle Vanden Bosch to add to their defensive line, making this one of the most successful offseasons out of all 32 teams. Again, I’m not sure they will be good enough to win the division quite yet, but the +1500 line is definitely worth a look.