Is there any division in football with more turnover between 2020 and 2021 than the NFC North? Its biggest star, Aaron Rodgers, is dominating league headlines with his holdout from the Packers. The Lions participated in their own blockbuster trade this past offseason while the Bears traded up to draft their franchise quarterback Justin Fields. Even the Vikings had coordinator turnover this offseason.
With so many teams teetering between great and disastrous, the NFC North might just be the best division to keep your eye on this year.
This page will serve as a one-stop-shop guide to betting on the NFC North – complete with a 2020 recap, 2021 lookahead, past division winners, and where to bet the NFC North. The most important piece of advice is to shop around before placing a wager. For instance, just because FanDuel Sportsbook offers the Bears (+270) doesn’t mean every outlet will. An extra minute or two of searching could lead to larger payouts. With that said, let’s cut into the NFC North.
2021 NFC North odds
2020 NFC North results
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Aaron Rodgers had an MVP season, led the Green Bay Packers to a 13-3 record, but came up just short in the NFC Championship Game. Sound familiar? We considered copy-pasting their 2019 recap here. Davante Adams lit the league on fire, racking up 18 touchdowns in just 14 games but the Achilles heel of Green Bay was their defensive secondary. Rodgers began openly griping about the Packers’ seeming unwillingness to surround him with more weapons. Instead of responding, the Packers drafted a cornerback at the end of the first round. Though it was a long time coming, this seems to be the final straw and Rodgers expressed that he would not be returning to the team.
The Chicago Bears had quite the rollercoaster of a season. They began red-hot, 5-1 through six weeks, which included a win over the eventual-champion Buccaneers. That’s when the slide began– they dropped their next six games and were outside the NFC playoff picture looking in. To cap the season, they finished 3-1 and snuck into the final playoff spot at 8-8. They also had a rotating cast at quarterback, bouncing back and forth between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky. They remained in games thanks to their standout defense and on the back of David Montgomery. However, it felt more like a failure than a success this past season.
Almost no team flopped harder in 2020 than the Minnesota Vikings. A team that was expected to compete in not just the division but the NFC as a whole missed the playoffs and at one point was 1-5. For the first time under coach Mike Zimmer, Minnesota was a liability defensively, surrendering the fourth-most points per game when the season came to a close. At one point, the Vikings were looking like they would secure a playoff berth anyway, but dropped three of their last four. The bright spot on the season was rookie Justin Jefferson, who immediately established himself as a star receiver capable of filling the hole left by the traded Stefon Diggs.
The Detroit Lions seemed to meet expectations to a T: they were atrocious defensively and coach Matt Patricia didn’t finish the season. Star receiver Kenny Golladay was lost early in the year to injury and Detroit was looking like they were without a single weapon. Enter D’Andre Swift. The rookie running back was immediately crowned the bell cow and for the first time in forever, the Lions were a running football team. However, it was another year of treading water for Detroit.
2021 NFC North outlook and predictions
The Rodgers-Packers situation has spiraled out of control. What began as complaints about not having enough weapons turned into whispers of being disgruntled to a full-on holdout. Because of this, the Packers are a total wildcard; even U.S. Sportsbooks were withholding Packers win totals and futures odds. Should Rodgers get his wish and bolt for elsewhere, the Packers could be looking at a top-10 pick. Should he stay, the Packers could win another 13 wins. Until this is sorted, it’s impossible to tell where Green Bay will go.
2020 was largely seen as a fluke for the Vikings. The offense is loaded with talent like Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook. The defensive issues were certainly addressed this offseason– Patrick Peterson joined the team in free agency, as did MacKenzie Alexander, Nick Vigil, and Stephen Weatherly. Minnesota also hit the lottery in the Draft where they traded back and still landed stud tackle Christian Darrisaw, who saw a slight slide in the first round. Though Gary Kubiak retired, the Vikings replaced him with his son Klint Kubiak, who is expected to continue his father’s effective offensive philosophy.
Another team that hit the lottery– or rather, rigged it in their favor– the Bears made an aggressive trade up to land Justin Fields, their franchise quarterback. Though the team appears to be rolling with Andy Dalton this year, Fields will almost certainly see time barring a huge turnaround in Dalton’s career. Chicago was able to retain Allen Robinson, who was rumored to be unhappy with the team. Don’t forget: the Bears’ offseason was seen as a failure before they landed Fields in the draft. From a playoff appearance, the Bears are expected to step back.
The Lions hit full reset for 2021. They traded away Matthew Stafford for former-No. 1 pick Jared Goff and hired new, gritty head coach Dan Campbell. While the receiving weapons are scant, Campbell repeatedly emphasized that the Lions were going to be a run-first offense; that claim is backed up by their drafting of Penei Sewell with the seventh overall pick. The team is a massive work in progress and 2021 won’t be their complete full fix.
Past NFC North division winners
|2020||Green Bay Packers||13-3|
|2019||Green Bay Packers||13-3|
|2016||Green Bay Packers||10-6|
|2014||Green Bay Packers||12-4|
|2013||Green Bay Packers||8-7-1|
|2012||Green Bay Packers||11-5|
|2011||Green Bay Packers||15-1|
How to bet on NFL division winners
To reiterate advice given here, shop around before diving headlong into the first bet you see; different outlets offer different odds and a minute or two of your time could result in some more money coming your way.
When reading an odds table, there’s several numbers of note. The first is the odds, which tells you who is favored (lower numbers are favored) and how much a successful bet would earn you. For example, a $100 bet on Chicago (+400) would win you $400 with a total payout of $500. Next is the handle, which tells you what percentage of the total amount bet on the AFC North division winner each team commands. For example, the Vikings have 43% of the handle– meaning 43% of all money bet on the NFC North winner has gone to the Vikings. Last is the percentage of bets, which refers to the number of bets– not the amount– wagered on each team. The Packers have 57% of all bets, which doesn’t reflect how much was bet (the Packers have 39% of the handle, meaning smaller betting amounts are being placed on the Packers).
NFL division betting previews
|AFC East||NFC East|
|AFC North||NFC North|
|AFC South||NFC South|
|AFC West||NFC West|