The other teams in the NFC North were not happy when Aaron Rodgers said he was returning to Green Bay for one more season. With the signal-caller back in the fold, the Packers vaulted to the top of a division that has a lot of potential but is young in spots. The Vikings are more than capable of being a playoff team, but they need Kirk Cousins to keep squads honest in order for Dalvin Cook to find some success. Chicago and Detroit are in varying stages of rebuilds, with the Bears closer to success now that they have a quarterback of the future. Let's take a look at the win totals in this division.
2021 NFL Win Total Analysis by Division: AFC East I AFC North I AFC South I AFC West I NFC East I NFC North I NFC South I NFC West
Note: Win total numbers courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook.
Chicago Bears (Over 7.5 EVEN...Under 7.5 -120)
Division Champion Odds: +500
Offense: Matt Nagy continues to insist Andy Dalton will be the Week 1 starter, but he's arguably the worst of the quarterbacks in that room with rookie Justin Fields and Super Bowl winner Nick Foles in the fold. The longer the veteran plays, the worse off things could be for this team. David Montgomery put up good numbers last year despite poor quarterback play. Damien Williams and Khalil Herbert are solid backups, while Tarik Cohen (torn ACL) continues to be on the PUP list. Keeping Allen Robinson II was a top priority, but now they need to find a proper tag-team partner for him. Darnell Mooney, Marquise Goodwin, and Damiere Byrd are the most likely options, but none of them are all that spectacular. It's also a concern that line play has been so bad that they had to sign Jason Peters off the waiver wire.
Defense: Despite some key losses, this side of the ball still should be strong. Cornerback Kyle Fuller went to Denver, leaving second-year Jaylon Johnson and several other veterans as the top options to replace him. Tashaun Gipson Sr. and Eddie Jackson are a solid safety duo. Of course, the strength is at linebacker with Khalil Mack (9 sacks in 2020), Roquan Smith, Robert Quinn, Danny Trevathan, and Alec Ogletree. Smith and Trevathan accounted for over 240 tackles in 2020 combined. Bilal Nichols was a pleasant surprise last year with five sacks. This unit should be good, especially if the offense doesn't consistently go three and out.
Schedule Notes: The Bears alternate road and home games until their Week 10 bye. After that, they alternate home and road contests the rest of the season. Chicago gets Baltimore at home after the bye week and has two tough road trips the first three weeks when they visit the Rams and Browns. Who will be under center for those contests?
Prediction: I think the Bears can go over this total, but it all depends on when they make the change to Fields. You can almost do a win total with Dalton and one with the rookie, and it would be completely different. Lean over, but not if Dalton is still starting on Halloween.
Related: Chicago Bears Depth Chart
Detroit Lions (Over 5 EVEN...Under 5 -120)
Division Champion Odds: +1900
Offense: In an offseason full of change, the biggest comes under center with Jared Goff. The former Ram was part of the return for Matthew Stafford and now has to run an offense that is lacking a true No. 1 wide reciever. They added Tyrell Williams from Las Vegas, Kalif Raymond from Tennessee, and Breshad Perriman from the Jets, but none of them are true game-breakers. Luckily, T.J. Hockenson and Darren Fells form a really good TE duo and could be quite busy. The running back group was bolstered by the addition of former Packer Jamaal Williams. He figures to be behind D'Andre Swift, who ran for only 521 yards as a rookie in 2020.
Defense: This side of the ball also experienced a ton of change as the Lions added Michael Brockers (Rams), Dean Marlowe (Bills), and Alex Anzalone (Saints) to replace Jarrad Davis, Justin Coleman, Duron Harmon, Danny Shelton, and Desmond Trufant. The secondary continues to try to find its next Darius Slay, and the hope is it's Jeff Okudah in his second season. Opposite him is Amani Oruwariye, with a couple of rookies in the fold as well. The front seven could be decent with former Patriots Trey Flowers and Jamie Collins Sr. still there.
Schedule Notes: Detroit is thrown into the fire early with games against the 49ers, Packers, and Ravens. The bye comes in Week 9, but after that, they travel to Pittsburgh and Cleveland before the traditional home Thanksgiving contest. The final two matchups are with the Seahawks and Packers.
Prediction: Five wins sounds about right with a lean to the under.
Related: Detroit Lions Depth Chart
Green Bay Packers (Over 10.5 -120...Under 10.5 EVEN)
Division Champ Odds: -145
Offense: Outside of some draft picks, the offense experienced no key additions and lost a pair of OL and RB Jamaal Williams to the Lions. One can see why Rodgers is annoyed with the organization that didn't really improve the WR corps other than a minor trade for Randall Cobb. Rookie Amari Rodgers comes from a winning program in Clemson, but he could be the team's fifth or sixth wideout. Davante Adams will continue to put up his amazing numbers despite extra attention. AJ Dillon is now one step closer to a starting job behind Aaron Jones. There's no reason this side of the ball won't keep rolling along.
Defense: Green Bay let Mike Pettine go as coordinator and replaced him with Joe Barry, who hasn't exactly been the best at leading defenses. This group is pretty much intact especially in the secondary, where Kevin King and Jaire Alexander are at corner and Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage Jr. are at safety. Preston Smith and Za'Darius Smith had disappointing 2020 campaigns, so we'll see if they can unlock their talents this coming season. There are some intriguing rookies on all levels that will try to make an impact as well.
Schedule Notes: Green Bay has a stretch of four road games over a five-week period beginning in early October. The team has a later bye week and then has three of their final five at home with the Browns, Bears, and Vikings coming to Lambeau in December.
Prediction: I come up with 10-11 wins, so no play here.
Related: Green Bay Packers Depth Chart
Minnesota Vikings (Over 8.5 -160...Under 8.5 +135)
Division Champion Odds: +250
Offense: Kirk Cousins put up fantastic numbers in 2020, but the team still fell short of the playoffs. The former Michigan State QB had 35 touchdown passes to 13 interceptions but was hampered by a lack of mobility at times. Justin Jefferson was even more than the team expected when they drafted him in the first round, averaging nearly 16 yards per catch on his way to 1,400 receiving yards. He was able to loosen things up a little bit for Adam Thielen. There are some intriguing rookies behind the pair who could help out at WR. Cook was amazing as well with 16 rushing touchdowns.
Defense: The defense no longer relies on youth in the secondary, with Patrick Peterson and Bashaud Breeland taking over things at cornerback. Between them and Harrison Smith and Xavier Woods at safety, things are better off. The front seven is healthier, and that's huge considering the linebacking group of Anthony Barr, Eric Kendricks, and Nick Vigil is among the best. Danielle Hunter missed 2020 after neck surgery while Dalvin Tomlinson was one of the better DT free agents available. We'll see if this group can finally get back to the unit that was No. 1 in 2017.
Schedule Notes: The Vikings have two road contests to start things off before three straight at home. They have an early Week 7 bye, which then leads them into five of their next eight on the road. Among the trips they'll have to make are to Baltimore, LA, and San Francisco. The last four games are against the Bears twice, the Packers, and the Rams.
Prediction: I think the under has some value at this price. I'm not as high on Cousins as others and think the schedule is really tough.
Related: Minnesota Vikings Depth Chart