Smacken The Sportsbet Trader and American sports expert Ed Wyatt continue their look at the 2018 NFL season.
Minnesota won the NFC North last year, but Aaron Rodgers is healthy again and the Packers will challenge. Probably can’t say the same thing about the enigmatic Lions or the improving Bears.
1 Minnesota Vikings 13-3 (Made NFC Championship game)
2 Detroit Lions 9-7
3 Green Bay Packers 7-9
4 Chicago Bears 5-11
Ranking The Coaches
1 Mike McCarthy, GB: Gets the edge over Zimmer because of his Super Bowl ring, but still makes some odd in-game decisions.
2 Mike Zimmer, MIN: Has built a very strong team on both sides of the ball. This is a big year for him.
3 Matt Nagy, CHI: Doing some good work with a franchise in rebuilding mode.
4 Matt Patricia, DET: An unknown quantity, and Belichick assistants don’t have a great track record.
Ranking The QBs
1 Aaron Rodgers, GB: Arguably the best QB in the NFL, certainly the highest paid.
2 Matthew Stafford, DET: Puts up big numbers, would be interesting to see him with a super-competitive team.
3 Kirk Cousins, MIN: Could easily put him at #2, but new team brings new challenges.
4 Mitch Trubisky, CHI: Shows promise, but not in the class of the other three veterans.
Ranking The Fans
1 Green Bay: NFL’s most unique fanbase, with 30-year wait for season tickets.
2 Chicago: Passionate, loyal even through some very lean years – and some very cold days.
3 Minnesota: Have made new stadium a tough place to play.
4 Detroit: Inconsistent, disappointing teams have been tough to support.
Odds and Opinions
–Green Bay ($2.37)
Smacken The Trader Says
“I have the Vikings as the second best team in the NFL and because of Aaron Rodgers, they are still odds against to win their division. Kirk Cousins finally gets a decent offense around him and I’m excited to see how he performs.”
“We all know Americans love underdogs and the punters love the Bears and their new offensive coordinator (former Oregon coach Mark Helfrich). Their nucleus is strong, but in my opinion, they are still a few years off challenging the upper tier of the NFC.”
“Poor Matt Stafford can’t find a supporting cast in Detroit and the Lions as a squad are woefully inconsistent. The defense turns up on days where Matt can’t find the end zone and vice versa. I rate him as QB but will always wonder what a change of scenery might have done to his career.”
“The Vikings and Packers should both make the playoffs if Rodgers stays healthy and Cousins fits seamlessly into the Minnesota scheme.”
“I think Chicago will be much better than last year, but I’m reading some interesting things about the Detroit training camp. I actually think the Lions could finish in fourth.”
NFL Division Markets here – odds subject to change.