DraftKings Sportsbook has gone ahead and released the odds to win each NFL division in 2020. With free agency and the draft still to come, betting on division winners now gives us room to potentially find some value. With a combination of looking back at 2019, and projecting for 2020, here’s where the potential value lies in the NFC North for the upcoming season.
Green Bay Packers (+135)
The Packers performed well during head coach Matt LeFleur’s first season at the helm. They won the division with a 13-3 record and advanced to the NFC Championship before falling to the San Francisco 49ers. However, Aaron Rodgers didn’t look like the stud he has been in recent years. Part of that was likely because of his underwhelming receiving corps — save Davante Adams. Running back Aaron Jones was a threat as a rusher and receiver out the backfield, so Green Bay has a lot coming back to them in 2020.
No receiver has emerged as a clear WR2. Allen Lazard and Jake Kumerow are exclusive rights free agents who can’t negotiate with other teams if Green Bay makes them offers. Are they worth developing more? Geronimo Allison is entering unrestricted free agency as well, but maybe more desirable players will flock to Green bay because of its recent success with average wideouts. Starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga is also a free agent, but the rest of the offensive line looks sturdy.
Minnesota Vikings (+140)
Minnesota finished 2019 strong after a shaky start. Quarterback Kirk Cousins faced a ton of criticism for his lack of confidence in his arms. Both Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen called him out on this during the season, and that’s not a good look. Luckily the Vikings also had one of the NFL’s better running backs in Dalvin Cook, who totaled 1,135 yards on the ground and ran for 13 scores. Minnesota was able to knock off the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs but needs to make some changes.
Cornerback Xavier Rhodes has fallen off a cliff since he signed a $70 million extension in 2017 and there could be a ton of turnover in the secondary this offseason. Six other defensive backs are entering unrestricted free agency in 2020. Minnesota’s middle-of-the-pack pass defense could drop off dramatically if key players don’t return. The Vikings also have a chance to make upgrades though.
Chicago Bears (+500)
Chicago was the favorite to win the NFC North after it handily won the division with a 12-4 record in 2018. However, it finished third in 2019 at 8-8. Mitchell Trubisky regressed after having an impressive sophomore season, which has led some to demand his replacement. Allen Robinson notched his second career 1,000-yard season and Anthony Miller showed promise as a wideout as well. Rookie running back David Montgomery emerged as quality starting running back. The defensive side of the ball remains sturdy.
The Bears should explore making an upgrade at quarterback via trade or free agency. Trubisky won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2022 though and still has time to grow. Linebacker Danny Trevathan is one notable Chicago player entering free agency this year. The Bears should monitor offensive linemen on the free agency market, as they had the NFL’s fourth highest sack rate (8.6%) last season, according to Football Outsiders.
Detroit Lions (+900)
Few people thought the Lions had a shot to come out on top in this division, and the injuries they dealt with this season didn’t help their case. Detroit has had a very pass-heavy offense in recent years, so when Matt Stafford went down with a back injury halfway through the year. Budding running back Kerryon Johnson also missed half the 2019 season with a knee injury. On the bright side, Kenny Golladay had a career year, tallying 1,190 receiving yards and 11 scores. Backup signal callers David Blough and Jeff Driskel didn’t hurt his performance too much, and he could be even better next season.
Detroit has the worst pass defense in the NFL and gave up a league-leading 4,551 yards through the air in 2019. If it wants to be more competitive, it needs to be able to stop the opposition a little more frequently. Upgrades need to be made, and five of the Lions’ defensive backs are unrestricted free agents. Free agency is one way to make moves, but the Lions’ 3-12-1 record from 2019 has also gifted them a valuable draft pick.
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