NFL Division Betting: The Packers Are a Value Despite Their Flaws
It somehow feels like the 2020 NFL Draft was yesterday and four years ago at the same time.
With the draft that saw a record amount of money bet behind us, it's time to look forward to the upcoming season. Luckily, Super Bowl odds has well north of 150 props already available for you to choose from.
With this series, I'm going to go division by division and come up with my favorite picks to take home the divisional crown -- as always, the goal is to find some value.
Here's a look at the team I'd bet on to win the NFC North.
NFC North Overview
Two teams -- the Green Bay Packers (+175) and the Minnesota Vikings (+175) -- both have 36.4 percent implied odds of winning the division. The Chicago Bears (+320) -- at 23.8 percent -- are behind the two favorites. At +650, the oddsmakers don't seem to think that the Detroit Lions are much of a threat to earn their first division title in 27 seasons.
Here's a look at how each team's schedule stacks up for 2020.
|Team||Overall SoS||Games vs. ≥ .500||Avg. Opponent Est. NERD|
|Green Bay Packers||0.502||10||0.22|
Per Brandon Gdula's schedule rankings -- where he utilizes numberFire's nERD metric in conjunction with FanDuel Sportsbook's win totals -- the Packers have, by far, the toughest schedule in the division. According to Gdula's rankings, Green Bay's schedule ranks 9th-toughest, while Minnesota and Chicago have the 13th- and 11th-easiest, respectively.
That said, it's worth noting that the Vikings have six games against teams with over/unders of nine or higher, while the Packers and Bears have just four apiece.
The Vikings had one of my favorite drafts, but their 2020 offseason saw them lose Stefon Diggs, Xavier Rhodes, Trae Waynes, Mackensie Alexander, Everson Griffen (still a FA), Linval Joseph, and Josh Kline. For those keeping track at home, that's four defensive starters, their slot corner, their best receiving weapon, and their top interior offensive lineman from 2019. Even an elite draft class will struggle to replace that.
I'm quite open about my Packers fandom, and I'll be the first to admit that they've had a less-than-ideal offseason. They did virtually nothing to fix a defensive front that was gashed for 285 rushing yards in the NFC Championship game, lost one of the best right tackles in the game, and all but ignored the wide receiver position -- their biggest need.
Nevertheless, Green Bay is returning all but three starters from a season ago. The Bulaga loss is big, but the Packers signed Rick Wagner to fill that spots, and Lane Taylor's return from injury should help mitigate the loss as well. Blake Martinez departed in free agency, as well, but aside from being a valuable IDP fantasy piece, his mediocre play won't be missed. The release of Jimmy Graham can best be described as addition by subtraction. Not only was Graham a liability for most of his time in America's Dairyland, but he also gets to drop passes and whiff on blocks for their rival-Bears now.
Speaking of the Bears, their offseason can best be described as 'weird.' Chicago signed 30-year-old Robert Quinn to a huge contract, traded a fourth-rounder for Nick Foles and his $21 Million guaranteed, and added the corpses of Jimmy Graham and Ted Ginn Jr. Chicago also failed to address an offensive line that ranked 29th in Adjusted Line Yards and Adjusted Sack Rate, according to Football Outsiders.
The Packers didn't have the roster of a 13-win team in 2019 and are almost certainly headed for regression in 2020. In theory, that could've opened a door for Minnesota -- or even Chicago -- to reclaim supremacy in the North. Yet, on paper, neither team improved their rosters for the 2020 season. In the Vikings' case -- again, on paper -- they got worse.
All that leaves the door open for Green Bay to take home the division crown with 10 or 11 victories. The Packers aren't strangers to tougher schedules -- in 2019, Gdula pegged them with the 10th-toughest slate in the league. And we all know what the results were.
The best thing about this pick is that you can get the Pack at +175 to win the division. It's hard to not like that value.