On Thursday, I kicked off the annual ‘NFL Division Odds’ series by starting with the NFC East. Today we move over to the NFC North where defense used to be the norm. Not anymore because at least three of the four teams will ride powerful offenses and hope their defenses can do enough to limit the opposition.
On we go…
Green Bay -125 – Here’s the deal with the Packers; if Aaron Rodgers plays all 16 games this team wins the division. It’s really that simple because defenses, especially those in this division, are not going to stop the firepower of Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb, Eddie Lacy etc. Where the Packers could fall though is if Clay Matthews continues to spend more time in sweats and not on the field.
Green Bay has five road games in their first eight and among those road trips are the opener at Seattle, plus at Detroit, at Chicago, at Miami and at New Orleans. This may sound crazy but if they come through that stretch 4-4 or better I think that’s pretty darn good.
Season Projection: 11-5
Chicago +275 – Quarterback Jay Cutler has a monster new contract and now has to go out and prove that he’s worth all of that money. First and foremost he has to stay healthy. All of the offensive weapons are there in the name of Alshon Jeffery, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. If Cutler can’t stay on the field then those weapons lose their potency.
With Julius Peppers off to Green Bay, the Bears brought in Jared Allen to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks. That will be extremely necessary with Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers on the schedule four times. The Bears have five home games in their final seven which means if they can survive earlier road games at San Francisco, Carolina and New England then they could be in great shape.
Season Projection: 10-6
Detroit +400 – I watched the Lions last night in Oakland and the offense looked great in the first quarter and the defense looked pretty good too. The problem? The Lions killed themselves, especially defensively, with penalties that kept drives alive for the Raiders. This was one of the reasons Jim Schwartz was sent packing and Jim Caldwell was brought in. The talent is there on both sides of the ball so the excuses are limited.
If the Lions are going to make the playoffs, then they need to get out early. Seven of the final eight games on the schedule are tough. Back to back trips to Arizona and New England in the beginning of that stretch and back to back road trips to Chicago and Green Bay at the end of it. I have concerns with those stretches of games.
Season Projection: 8-8
Minnesota +1000 – There are already rumors that the Vikings are leaning towards Teddy Bridgewater and that they are perhaps ready to shop Christian Ponder as well. I’m guessing Matt Cassel will start the season but he could give way to Bridgewater at some point. Regardless of who is quarterbacking. Adrian Peterson and Cordarrelle Patterson are the two guys that need the ball in their hands.
The defense will be OK but I don’t think it will be formidable enough to deal with the high-powered offenses of the division. The Vikings 2014 season will be told in the first five games. They have road trips to St. Louis, New Orleans and Green Bay and two home games against New England and Atlanta.
Season Projection: 6-10
Overall: This division comes down to one question in my mind; who is on the field more in 2014, Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler? Whomever is, leads his team to the title.