Following several impressive acquisitions in the recent draft, the NFC North has suddenly developed into one of the most competitive divisions in the entire NFL.

In recent years, plenty of emphasis has been placed on the AFC’s northern counterparts, including the Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers. That quartet may well be the strongest in the entire league, but the Bears and their three closest rivals aren’t far behind. 

Last season, two of their adversaries made their presence felt in the playoffs, namely the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. The former ended a 32-year wait for a playoff victory as they progressed all the way to the NFC Championship game. The latter, meanwhile, were the latest to embarrass the Dallas Cowboys, beating the NFC’s top seeds on home turf in the wildcard round to prolong their dire postseason form in recent years. 

However, thanks to their recent draft activity, the Chicago Bears have also announced their arrival as a major force. Add to that a Minnesota Vikings team embarking on their first season without Kirk Cousins under center, and there is a lot to be excited about in the NFC North next season.


But who do the bookies make the favorites for divisional honors? Let’s find out. 


Detroit Lions 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, sports betting online at Bovada has installed the Lions as the +150 frontrunners to top the pile at the end of the regular season. Coach Dan Campbell has crafted a team identity that’s as resilient as it is dynamic. Quarterback Jared Goff has risen to the occasion, displaying a level of play that saw him finishing second in the league in terms of throwing yards with a mighty 4,575, just 49 behind the Maimi Dolhpins’ Tua Tagovailoa. 

His 30 touchdowns were the fourth-highest in the league and helped propel the Ford Field outfit to a first NFC North crown in franchise history. And they weren’t finished there. The Lions picked up their first playoff victory in history with a razor-thin one-point win against their former hero, Matthew Stafford, and his Los Angeles Rams. They then knocked off the Tampa Bay Buccanneers in the Divisional Round, securing victories against two of the last three Lombardi winners in the process. 

Unfortunately, the San Francisco 4ers would stage an almighty comeback in the NFC Championship game to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. But Campbell and his Lons are expected to continue their progression this term and reach the latter stages of the postseason once again. 


Green Bay Packers 

The Green Bay Packers are one of the most recognizable teams in the entire league, and they have a winning tradition that simply won’t go away, no matter how unfancied they are. Last season was meant to be one of rebuilding following the departure of the New York Jets, but the new man under center, Jordan Love, had other ideas. He threw a mighty 32 touchdowns throughout the campaign, the second most in the league, to propel his side to the playoffs with a record 9-8. 

Once there, no one gave them a chance against the top-seed Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium, but the Cheeseheads reveled in their role as underdogs. They raced into an insurmountable 27-0 lead and ultimately ran out victors in the Lone Star state before going on to give the Niners all they could handle in the Divisional Round, albeit in a losing effort. 

Defensively, Jaire Alexander has established himself as a shutdown corner, a player whose presence alone can alter the game plan of opposing offenses. Couple that with Love’s continued development, and the Packers will be there or thereabouts when it comes to the playoffs, as they always seem to be. They have missed the postseason just three times in the last 13 years, and they will expect to reach them once more this year. 


Chicago Bears 

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At odds of +260, the Chicago Bears step into the season as contenders once again. Their off-season maneuvers have injected optimism into the fanbase. Quarterback Caleb Williams has arrived as the first overall draft pick and the new face of the franchise, while the drafting of wide receiver Rome Odunze at ninth overall provides a perfect target for their new lynchpin. Gone are the days of the hot-and-cold Justin Fields – who was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers to make way for Willams – and the bookies feel that the Bears could reach the postseason for the first time in four years. 

Linebacker T.J Edwards leads a defense that embodies his side’s historic toughness, offering a glimmer of hope for a return to defensive dominance. The key hurdle for the Bears, however, is their offensive line’s performance, crucial for protecting Williams and establishing a threatening run game.


Minnesota Vikings 

Two years ago, the Minnesota Vikings had the joint-best record in the NFC after racking up 13 wins against just four losses. Now, however, Kirk Cousins is gone, and they are now the rank +900 outsiders. Running back Aaron Jones is a new arrival from divisional rivals the Packers, and his ability to tear through defenses makes the US Bank Stadium side’s ground game particularly dangerous. 

He will have to be at his very best if he is to support rookie QB J. J. McCarthy. Wide receiver Justin Jefferson is perhaps the best in the game and he provides a reliable target on every play. His link with the former Michigan Wolverine starting at quarterback will be crucial to any success the Vikings have. 


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