2016 Free Picks To Win The NFC North
Coming off their first divisional crown since 2009, the Minnesota Vikings—locked and loaded with upgrades all over the roster from a busy offseason—have their eyes set on recording back-to-back titles in the NFC North. To do so, they will have to best the efforts of the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears in what promises to be an action-packed wire-to-wire title race in the NFC North. Are the Vikings up to the task or will the competition in the NFL odds to win the 2016 NFC North Championship prove too tough for them? Here’s our not-so-early take on this divisional title race, complete with free online sportsbooks picks for your perusal and consideration.
A Closer Look At The 2016 Free Picks To Win The NFC North
The Favorite Betting Pick To Win The NFC North: Green Bay Packers
In spite of winning the division last year and returning with nearly every key member of the squad that recorded an NFC North-best 11 wins, the Vikings are placed as second-favorites in most NFL betting shops behind the Packers in the early 2016 NFC North Futures. A big reason for this is the fact that the Packers had won four straight titles in the division (between 2011 and 2014) before the Vikes outlasted them last season. And in their defense, the Pack suffered several injuries in the course of the season, so the team was barely at full strength. To say that Green Bay Packers finished with a 10-6 record (just one win behind Minnesota) is actually a big compliment to Aaron Rodgers and his shorthanded teammates.
If the Packers can stay healthy in 2016, there are few reasons to doubt their potential to reclaim the throne. Entering training camps, the O-line looks better than it has in years, all-world quarterback Rodgers is psyched up for a big season and the team roster is largely healthy–save for the minor ankle tweak by Jordy Nelson, as reported on Tuesday. And the best news of all is that the Packers have the easiest strength of schedule in the entire NFL this season. All that remains is for Green Bay’s defense to clean up its act, and in no time, the Packers will be back to the top of the NFC North division.
The Smart Betting Pick To Win The NFC North: Minnesota Vikings
Though the Packers are hot betting favorites in the NFC North title odds, and rightfully so; the Vikings shouldn’t be distanced away from the title talks. The Vikes have seemingly gotten back to their glory days of ’08 and ’09, thanks to the transformative leadership of Coach Mike Zimmer. Minny’s defense has all the makings of a top-5 D in 2016 while the offense has brought in some solid pieces to beef up the O-line and open up the vertical game for up-and-coming quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who is entering the golden third-year in the NFL that often features the best breakouts for quarterbacks. Should Bridgewater turn it up in his passing game as he seeks to hit pay dirt in his 2017 contract year, the Vikings (who already have a strong running game led by veteran RB Adrian Peterson) will be more than capable of duking it out with Green Bay all the way to Week 17 for a strong chance at the NFC North title.
The Longshot Betting Pick to Win the NFC North: Chicago Bears
While the Lions and Bears both sport more-or-less the same prices in the 2016 NFC North Championship Futures, it is Chicago who look most primed to pressure the duo of Green Bay and Minnesota in the title race. Head Coach John Fox is visionary leader who needs no introduction and Jay Cutler has all the pieces needed for him to succeed both aerially and on the ground. Questions still abound about Chicago’s in-transition defense, but every team in the North has its fair share of questions, meaning the Bears should be given the benefit of doubt just like everyone else. Needless to say, everything will start and stop at Cutler’s arms, and that means a lot of risk for Chicago’s title ambitions, given the up-and-down performances we’ve seen from the 33-year-old signal-caller.
The Lions, well, the absence of Megatron and the iffy nature of their defense are the biggest concerns, along with the fact that Green Bay and Minnesota are way ahead of Detroit in terms of established and proven talented. That said, Mathew Stafford and his offense showed promise under their new OC in the second half of 2015 and the Detroit defense still has some big value pieces, so bettors shouldn’t totally write them off from surprising us in 2016 like they did with a strong 11-5, second-place finish in the 2014 season.
2016 NFC North Predictions
Assuming every team stays healthy, then the divisional crown should go to the Packers, as they have a better-gelled and most-experienced squad to go along with the best quarterback in the NFC North and the easiest schedule in the league. Minnesota will most likely come second, followed by Chicago and Detroit, in that respective order.