Green Bay Packers Poised to Rule NFC North Again

Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates his touchdown with teammates. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP
Robert Tonyan #85 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates his touchdown with teammates. Dylan Buell/Getty Images/AFP

The Green Bay Packers sit lotus atop the NFC North field, favored to clinch a third straight divisional title as the NFC North competition takes a step back – on paper, at least – in the offseason.

Green Bay’s neighbors might as well gift wrap the title now and be done with it; that is, if early NFL futures were any indication as throughout betting markets the Packers have the division cornered wholeheartedly in their camp. The odds gap between the Packers and the trio of the Bears, Lions, and Vikings resounding. And that gap is echoed in the broad spectrum of the league, where the Packers are installed amongst the top faves in Super Bowl 56 betting and all three of their divisional opponents are found hobnobbing with the longshots. Outlier bets that have little to any hope of registering an audible chord in the upcoming 2021 NFL season.

As per DraftKings Sportsbook, the Packers are tipped as the third-best bet at +1100 to win SBLVI, trailing behind only the Chiefs at +500 and the Buccaneers at +800. On the flipside, the Bears and Vikings are both priced at +5000 and the Lions are priced at a whopping +15000 – the latter of which represents the worst NFL odds at this point in time.

Packers Clinch NFC North and Rodgers The MVP

The Packers couldn’t have had a better regular season had they scripted it themselves. Everything seemed to fall into place for them: they sailed effortlessly to the NFC North title, Rodgers surprised all and sundry by winning the MVP honors, they clinched home advantage for the playoffs and navigated a course to their second straight NFC Championship game. Expectations for the 2020-21 season ran high, it was a “Super Bowl or Bust” scenario. Alas, the latter proved to be the case as the Packers were upset at Lambeau Field by the eventual champions, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

One could dissect that NFC Championship game in many ways in order to determine how it all went spectacularly wrong for the hosts. The Packers failed to take the initiative at home, Aaron Rodgers and the offense didn’t play up to their full potential, Lambeau wasn’t quite the intimidating frozen tundra it could have been in January, Matt LaFleur’s controversial call in the final minutes of the title game – choosing to kick a field goal rather than boldly going for it to tie the game – was costly because after that they never got the ball back.

It was a crushing defeat and end to a season that held so much promise. The burden of which was carried most profoundly by Aaron Rodgers, who at 37 years of age is keenly aware of the fact that he’s playing on borrowed time and chances like these are few and far in between. In the immediate aftermath of Green Bay’s NFC Championship defeat, the veteran signal-caller himself, somewhat deflated, referred to his future with the Packers as “uncertain.” Looming over his shoulders is the specter of Jordan Love after all, who the Packers traded up in the 2020 NFL draft for to the surprise of everyone, including Rodgers.

The offseason and the NFL draft is an occasion for teams to do a bit of housecleaning and reorganization. Consider the Packers’ odds are extremely favorable for 2021, the overriding assumption is that the Packers will roll with Aaron Rodgers again in 2021 and relegate Jordan Love with a clipboard to the side-lines for another season as the understudy to Rodgers. Of course, there will be changes to the roster in the coming weeks, but if the powers-that-be in Green Bay learn the lessons of 2020, the Packers should only get better. Perhaps, they’ll even get the draft right this time around and shore up the offense and give Rodgers more weapons to work with finally.

Bears, Vikings and Lions Strike Unconvincing Pose

If there’s one thing that the Packers have going for them, it’s that the rest of the NFC North field looks to be a cakewalk on paper. All three have roster issues, quarterback question marks and coaching uncertainties to contend with, never mind facing the formidable Packers.

For Chicago, the quarterback situation is a total shamble. The pursuit of that illusive franchise quarterback in the windy city took a massive blow this week, as the Bears settled on signing quarterback Andy Dalton to a one-year deal. After weeks of farfetched speculation about a possible trade between the Seahawks and Bears for Russell Wilson, signing a quarterback that’s been castoff by two teams in as many years is the definition of a let-down.

Minnesota is coming off a forgettable season, anti-climactic after an impressive 2019 campaign. Expectations for 2020 were high on the Vikings after they reached the divisional round of the 2019 playoffs, famously upsetting the New Orleans Saints along the way. Unfortunately, things didn’t go to plan. It was a tale of two halves for Minnesota –a horrendous first half of the season that very nearly cost Mike Zimmer his job followed by a semi-respectable second half that made up the bulk of their finishing 7-9 SU record. Zimmer is set to return, as is quarterback Kirk Cousin, but it’s unlikely that the organization will suffer another slow start by the pair. In other words, they’re skating on thin ice with their reputations firmly on the line.

Of the NFC North pack, the Detroit Lions are the most difficult to gage given all the comings and goings — from new head coach Dan Campbell to the quarterback trade featuring Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff swapping teams, the Lions present a massive question mark. How the new head coaching staff and quarterback swap bear out only time will tell, but not surprisingly, oddsmakers across multiple top-rated sportsbooks aren’t putting much stock in Detroit. Which is telling.

Packers A Lock Bet To Dominate NFC North

To look at the NFC North field is to be suitably unimpressed by all except the Packers. Thus, they’re one of the lock bets to consider in early NFL betting markets to win their division. Last season, the Packers went 13-3 SU to clinch the No.1 seed in the NFC. Importantly, they went 5-1 SU against the division – the lone misstep came against the Vikings in a game that they admittedly underestimated – to extend their record over the NFC North to 11-1 SU over the last two seasons.

In short, the Packers have dominated the NFC North in recent years and there’s no indication that it’s about to change.

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