Top QBs Cost Mega-Millions
For the last two seasons, teams from the National Football Conference’s North Division have made their starting quarterbacks the highest paid players in the league.
In 2017, the Detroit Lions signed a five-year, $135-million deal with Matthew Stafford. In 2018, the Minnesota Vikings made Kirk Cousins the most expensive player in the NFL when they agreed on a three-year, $84-million contract.
While these are two important signings for their respective teams, neither has the best quarterback in the division. Future Hall of Fame QB Aaron Rodgers, who missed most of last season with a broken collarbone, returns for his 14th season with the Green Bay Packers.
The Vikings, who won the NFL North last season, are the +125 favorites to repeat again this year. Rodgers and the Packers are just a few ticks behind at +130 (odds provided by TopBet).
Betting Numbers For The NFC North
- Chicago (+800)
The Bears, who were 5-11 last season, finished fourth and last for the fourth straight year. They are +800 (or 8-1 odds) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 money line wager on the Bears will return a $800 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $900.
A $20 bet would pay 20 x 8 = $160 plus the $20 bet for a $180 total return.
- Detroit (+650)
The Lions, who were 9-7 last season, finished second with the same record for the second consecutive season. They are +650 (13-2) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Lions will return a $650 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $750.
- Green Bay (+130)
The Packers, who were 7-9 last season, finished third in the division and missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. They are +130 (1.3-1) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Packers will return a $130 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $230.
- Minnesota (+125)
The Vikings, who were 13-3 last season, won the division for the second time in three seasons. They are +125 (1.25-1) to win the division this year. That means a winning $100 wager on the Vikings will return a $125 profit plus the $100 bet for a total return of $225.
It’s Time To Pick A Divisional Winner
Chicago (Last title: 2010)
After struggling mightily last season, the Bears will go only as far as Mitch Trubisky can carry them. The second-year QB, who was drafted second overall in 2017, had just as many interceptions as touchdowns last season.
Still, management believes Trubisky can be their franchise quarterback. And they have surrounded him with some top talent, including running back Jordan Howard and receiver Allen Robinson.
Only three teams in the NFC allowed fewer points than the Bears, who play in prime time twice this year — both to start the season.
Detroit (Last title: 1993)
How do Lions’ fans do it? Year after year has become decade after decade — and still no division title. Detroit last won this division 25 years ago, thanks in large part to one of the greatest running backs of all time in Barry Sanders.
The Lions get a fresh start this season as Matt Patricia, former defensive coordinator with the Patriots, takes over as head coach. Stafford might have some help in the running game as well. Detroit added Kerryon Johnson in the draft and LeGarrette Blount through free agency.
Detroit hosts New England in prime time in Week 3 and Chicago on Thanksgiving in Week 12. They finish the season on the road in three of their last four games.
Green Bay (Last title: 2016)
After another injury-shortened season, QB Aaron Rodgers returns. The Packers were 4-1 when their franchise QB went down last year. They ended the season 7-9 and looked lost without No. 12.
The question this season is whether the Packers have stacked enough talent around Rodgers. Jordy Nelson is gone, but the team has added tight end Jimmy Graham.
The Packers used their first three picks in the draft to bolster their defense, which ranked near the bottom of the pile in the NFC last year. That stat needs to change or the Pack will miss the playoffs again.
Green Bay needs to get off to a fast start as it plays four of its first six games at home.
Minnesota (Last title: 2017)
The Vikings were one win from the Super Bowl. Now they’ve landed the top free-agent QB in Kirk Cousins and will get running back Dalvin Cook back from injury. This could be their year.
The Vikings went 5-1 against NFC North opponents and 10-2 against conference rivals last year. They also had the best defense in the NFC by far.
Cousins doesn’t need to be outstanding, he just needs to limit his mistakes. He has more than enough weapons, including top receivers Kyle Rudolph, Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen.
The Vikings will be tested early with three games on the road in the first five weeks — at Green Bay, Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia.
VGB’s pick — Minnesota (+125). The Vikings have few weaknesses on both sides of the ball. Cousins may help them return to their first Super Bowl in 42 years.