Check Out Our NFC North 2016 Season NFL Picks Report
The NFC North was previously known as the NFC Central from 1970 to 2001. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were previously members from 1977, one year after they joined the league as an expansion team, until 2001 when they moved to the NFC South. The four current division teams have been together in the same division or conference since the Vikings joined the league in 1961.
Minnesota and the Green Bay Packers have played a winner-take-all game for the division title in Week 17 at Lambeau last year. The Packers were touchdown favorites in that one but were stunned 20-13. NFL rushing king Adrian Peterson ran for a touchdown, cornerback Captain Munnerlyn returned a fumble 55 yards for a score and the Vikings claimed their first division title since 2009. It was also Minnesota’s first win in Lambeau since that year. The loss left the Packers without a win over a division opponent at home for the first time since 1968.
The Packers struggled at times last season offensively because they lost No. 1 receiver Jordy Nelson to a season-ending injury in the preseason. But he’ll be good to go for Week 1 this year as he recovers from ACL surgery. Nelson won’t participate in 11-on-11 team reps until training camp, he said. Coach Mike McCarthy is expected to play it safe with Nelson during a training camp that will be extended by a week because the Packers are playing a fifth preseason game (the Hall of Fame Game).
Nelson was a second team all-pro in 2014 with the best season of his career, catching 98 passes for 1,519 yards and 13 touchdowns. His chemistry with QB Aaron Rodgers — as seen through their famed back-shoulder fades — is almost unrivaled in the NFL.
The Vikings are pretty much back intact and should again have the best defense in the division. They also will move to a new domed stadium this season. They had to play outdoors at the University of Minnesota the past two years. The Vikings were stunned there in the playoffs last year by Seattle when kicker Blair Walsh hooked a potential winning 27-yard field goal in the final seconds. It was one of the most unlikely and devastating losses in playoff history. The Vikes are +220 second favorites.
The Detroit Lions are +1000 to win the division. They haven’t done that since 1993. The Lions also have to replace one of the best receivers in NFL history as Calvin Johnson retired at age 30. He says he’s not coming back, either. Johnson dealt with knee, ankle and finger injuries over the past four seasons. He played through an ankle injury the last eight weeks of the 2015 season. His team records with the Lions include most career receptions (731), career receiving yards (11,619), receiving yards in a season (1,964), receiving yards in a game (329), career receiving touchdowns (83) and receiving touchdowns in a season (16).
The Chicago Bears finished last in the division last season and are +1200 this year.