NFC North – Division Preview

NFC North Winner  (Over/Under season wins).
Odds as per Centrebet @ 24 August

Green Bay $1.70 (10.5 games – Over $1.74/Under $2.10)

Chicago Bears $4.00 (8.5 games – Over $1.67/Under $2.20)

Detroit Lions $4.25 (8.5 games – Under $1.74/Over $2.10)

Minnesota Vikings $20 (6 games – Over $1.71/Under $2.15)

Gargy: Green Bay are favourites for the division because they have the best QB in the division, and so if you are a favourite backer and if you think Aaron Rodgers stays healthy all year- get a piece of the $1.70 on offer. If you like value, think Rodgers will go down injured again or actually believe the Bears defence has improved enough to challenge for the division, get amongst the $4.00.  As for the Lions, I just can’t see them turning it around this year, and the Vikings are in for a tough season.  I see it as a two horse race. The Bears offence is great; they have two sensational receivers in Marshall and Jeffrey, and say what you want about Cutler but he can get it done. Matt Forte is good and Bennett at TE is an excellent target.  They made a big effort in the off season redoing their defence and signed Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Jared Allen to be in their defensive line. They cannot win the SB, but they can win the Division.  I will also be backing them to go over the 8.5 win mark.

The Packers have focused on defence in the off season and with their #1 pick selected banger Ha Ha Clinton Dix at Safety, as well as signing Julius Peppers in free agency. As I said earlier, Rodgers is awesome and he alone can lead the Packers to the Division title.

Shirt hates the Lions and thinks they are massive under achievers and I too cannot back them – although their talent is ridiculous; To the prodigious Stafford and Megatron they have added Golden Tate, picked up Reggie Bush, and have the likes of Fairley, Suh etc.. The NFC North in my opinion has a very tough schedule, crossing with the AFC East, who could be anything, and the NFC South- who I think will be the toughest division to predict the winner of. My advice – don’t bet on anything to do with the Lions this year, and I will follow my own advice.

Finally the Vikings; they will be hopeless.  I predict Bridgewater will be a bust at QB and they will be looking for a QB in the 2015 draft.  Get on the  unders at a juicy $2.15. I am going to take the easy option and take Green Bay to win the division, Shirty give me your insight champion, who wins the division, who goes over, who goes under?

Shirt: Always a tough division with quality at the top in the form of Green Bay, the upside down Bears, the unpredictable Lions and the what the fuck do you with the Vikings.  I don’t share Gargy’s enthusiasm for the AFC East – I think the Pats will see some improvement on defence (they can’t get much worse) but I don’t see the others being particularly problematic.

For me, the Packers season is all about their first 5 weeks.  They start with a tough match against the Super Bowl champs in Seattle, then host the Jets who will be looking to fire early, before away games against the Bears and Lions, rounding out with a home game to the Vikings.  So by week 5, we should have a really good handle on whether they are going to dominate their division.  But I am not paid to quote the schedule.  Let’s say the drop the game to the Hawks in a close one in week one, flog the Jets at home, out duel the Lions, give up a narrow loss to the Bears and pump the hapless Vikings.  That has them 3-2 in the opening stretch.  Their only really tough away game outside the Division will be to the Saints, which they may drop, but otherwise they are away to the Dolphins, Buccs & Bills – all very winnable.  Meanwhile they get the Pats, Falcons and Panthers (who will be hopeless this year) at home, so you’d think they have to win 2/3 of those.  Even if they drop a couple of games to the Bears and Lions and go 4-2 in their division, they still end up 11-5.   Overs is the right bet, as is the $1.70 for division winner.

The Bears under their new coach Marc Trestman have cast of their previous reputation as defensive stalwarts which they enjoyed under Lovie Smith and have instead become hopeless on the defensive side of the ball – I am talking 30th in the league hopeless.  On the plus side, their offense opened up last year and they were actually pretty fun to watch.  We have gone through the looking glass people.  Despite Gargy’s astute observations on their vaunted new defence, it has done bugger all in the preseason so far.  And they will be sorely tested – away to the 49ers, Jets, Falcons, Panthers and Pats (could go 0-5 but I will give them 2-3) and at home to the Bills, Dolphins, Buccs, Cowboys and Saints (3-2 at best).  So they are every chance to pick up 5 wins or less outside the division, meaning they have to go 4-2 against divisional rivals on a best case.  Possible, but I am going to go out on a limb and say get on the Unders people.  $2.20 is a gift.

I’ve had my share of frustrations with the Lions, and Gargy is right to point out that their underachieving nature frustrates me.  This is not going to be the year that I predict they will correct that – I have done it before and been burned…but…last year they were 7-5 after 13 rounds coming off a big win against the Packers into a very winnable final stretch – the Eagles, Ravens, Giants and Vikings.  Somehow they managed to lose all of them and go out the back door in divisional calculations.  So the question is, is Matt Stafford capable of getting it done when it matters.  Buggered if I know, but he is not getting any more of my money to find out. By all means, get on the overs, but know that in doing so you are putting your testicles in a vice and giving this guy permission to turn the handle;

Matthew+Stafford+2012+ESPY+Awards+Press+Room+0ImG4yzhexDl

And that brings us to the Vikings.  Rookie coach, Rookie QB, a schedule that reads Rams (away), Pats (home), Saints (away), Falcons (home), Packers (away), Lions (home).  And that’s just the first 6 weeks.  They are going to be 0-6 and a bit short on confidence come round 7 you’d reckon.  Unders is looking like a decent bet.  And if you’re a Viking fan, my guess is that after those first 6 games you might be turning off the football, sitting in a darkened room away from any sharp objects, and listening to a bit of this;

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