NFC North betting preview: Vikings' offence on the rise
With a new coach in place, the Minnesota Vikings could lean heavier on their passing attack this season. Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/AP.

Every team should have hope at this point on the calendar, but a dose of realism suggests the NFC North will most likely be a two-horse race in 2022.

The latest: Eight of the past 11 NFC North titles have gone to the Packers, including the past three, and they're favoured to win again this year. But the Vikings should give the Packers a solid push, while the Lions and Bears work through rebuilds at varying stages.

Check out our NFC North betting preview.

NFC North betting preview

Green Bay Packers

MarketOdds
To win Super Bowl+1,000
To win NFC Championship+450
To win NFC North-182
Win Total (11)Over (-110) or Under (-110)
To make playoffs-500

(Click link to add to betslip)

Odds as of 5:35 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team bet: Number of games won — 12-14 (+135)

Last summer, uncertainty surrounding the Aaron Rodgers/Green Bay marriage gave the NFC North a whole new look. Then Rodgers came back on a multi-year deal, won another MVP (his fourth) and firmly preserved the Packers as a top-of-the-pack team.

Read More
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Jordan Horrobin

In three years working with head coach Matt LaFleur, the 38-year-old Rodgers has enjoyed a renaissance run similar to a stretch he had almost a decade ago:

  • 2019-21 (season averages): 4,138.7 yards, 37 TD, 4.3 INT, 109.2 rating, 7.6 yards/attempt
  • 2010-12 (season averages): 4,286.7 yards, 37.3 TD, 8.3 INT, 110.7 rating, 8.4 yards/attempt

Together, Rodgers and LaFleur have led Green Bay to a trio of 13-win seasons. Finishing around that range again, even without two-time All-Pro receiver Davante Adams, feels like a logical outcome.

Best player bet: Aaron Rodgers under 6.5 interceptions (-137)

The aforementioned loss of Adams, along with the ascent of running back AJ Dillon, creates the expectation that Green Bay will keep the ball on the ground more in 2022.

Dillon and Aaron Jones, both of whom topped 1,100 scrimmage yards last year, will help ease the pain of Rodgers losing his top target. Fewer passes should mean fewer interceptions, but Rodgers was already the most prudent passer in the sport.

Not only has Rodgers posted the NFL's lowest interception rate in four consecutive seasons, but he's fallen below this line five years in a row. The last time he cleared it, when he threw seven picks in 2016, he'd also attempted a career-high 610 passes.

O/U win total prediction: Falling under 11 wins would indicate a notable step back for this team, and we're not banking on that.

Rodgers obviously carries more risk each year as he moves toward age 40, but the drop-off has yet to begin.

Green Bay's run defence was its biggest weakness last year, and the team worked to address that by adding defensive tackle Jarran Reed and spending two first-round picks on front seven players.

Pick: Over 11 wins (-110)

Minnesota Vikings

MarketOdds
To win Super Bowl+4,000
To win NFC Championship+1,700
To win NFC North+275
Win Total (9)Over (-134) or Under (+110)
To make playoffs-110

(Click link to add to betslip)

Odds as of 5:35 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team betTo earn a wild card (+240)

If you expect the Packers to win their fourth consecutive division title, but you're buying the hype of new Minnesota coach Kevin O'Connell, it'll be easy to see the value of this pick.

The Vikings have finished second in the NFC North in three of the past four years. If they're going to get back into the playoffs, the wild card route is the likely way.

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Steven Psihogios

Led by O'Connell, previously the offensive coordinator for the reigning champion Rams, we expect the Vikings' top weapons to be unlocked. Though you could back Minnesota to finish second (+130) or to make the playoffs (-110), this market offers a far more enticing price.

Best player bet: Justin Jefferson over 1320.5 receiving yards (-118)

A biased statement or not, Jefferson said it himself back in June: "Our offensive style, it's not a run-first offence anymore."

Under O'Connell, the Rams were a top-five team in passing yards, yards/attempt and touchdowns last season. Jefferson, Adam Thielen and dual-threat back Dalvin Cook offer enough talent for a similar air attack to work in Minnesota.

We've already seen Jefferson smash this line in his first two seasons, including 1,616 yards last year. If the Vikings do air it out more, this pick will feel even safer.

O/U win total prediction: Minnesota fell one game short of the nine-win mark in 2022, with eight of their nine losses coming by one possession (including two in overtime).

To clinch a wild-card spot, they'll need to be better — and we expect that.

O'Connell should give the offence a boost, while the defence will enjoy additions such as edge rusher Za'Darius Smith and interior linebacker Jordan Hicks. With a few improved bounces this year, the Vikings can hit double-digit wins.

Pick: Over 9 wins (-134)

Detroit Lions

MarketOdds
To win Super Bowl+12,500
To win NFC Championship+5,000
To win NFC North+900
Win Total (6.5)Over (-125) or Under (+103)
To make playoffs+340

(Click link to add to betslip)

Odds as of 5:35 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team bet: Opponent for team's first win — Washington Commanders (+190)

We'll do our best not to subconsciously apply a Hard Knocks bump to the Lions, but brace yourself for a bunch of run-through-the-wall speeches from coach Dan Campbell in this year's docuseries.

The Lions are still a rebuilding team, with a lot of young players adjusting to the NFL. In Week 1, they'll face an Eagles team that added A.J. Brown in the offseason and expects to return to the playoffs.

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Nick Ashbourne

That's why we're looking past Week 1 and setting our sites on Week 2, when Detroit will host a Washington squad that has posted five consecutive losing seasons.

The Lions are currently +102 underdogs in that game, so we think there's some value in choosing it as their first win.

Best player bet: Amon-Ra St. Brown over 800.5 receiving yards (-125)

A switch flipped for St. Brown in the second half of his rookie season, as the fourth-round selection received more snaps and made the most of them:

  • Weeks 1-9 (full season pace): 83 targets, 59 catches, 587 yards, 0 TD
  • Weeks 10-17 (full season pace): 159 targets, 125 catches, 1,277 yards, 11 TD

Do we expect a 160-target pace for St. Brown in Year 2? Of course not. Injuries in the receiving corps amplified his opportunity, and now he'll have to compete with newcomers D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams.

Still, St. Brown proved his worth in the latter half of the year. And he finished the season with 912 receiving yards. If he stays healthy, he should get enough looks to clear this line again.

O/U win total prediction: The NFL's extended schedule didn't help the Lions last year. They still won only three games, their lowest total since Matthew Stafford's rookie season (2009).

It's exciting to have some new offensive weapons, as well as No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson hunting quarterbacks, but a jump of four wins or more feels awfully lofty.

The Lions have been worth fading for most of the 21st century, and we're happy to advise that strategy for this market.

Pick: Under 6.5 wins (+103)

Chicago Bears

MarketOdds
To win Super Bowl+12,500
To win NFC Championship+5,000
To win NFC North+1,300
Win Total (6.5)Over (+118) or Under (-143)
To make playoffs+400

(Click link to add to betslip)

Odds as of 5:35 p.m. on 08/05/2022.

Best team bet: Number of games won — 3-5 (+200) 

The Bears won six games last year, but they did nothing in the offseason to suggest they're ready to build on that tally.

Allen Robinson left in free agency, and Chicago replaced him with a bunch of also-ran receivers (Dante Pettis, Byron Pringle and N'Keal Harry, to name a few).

Akiem Hicks — the ex-anchor of Chicago's defensive front — also left, and lead tackler Roquan Smith is holding out in a contract dispute.

Read More
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Jordan Horrobin

None of this adds up to positive prospects for the Bears, who have a first-time head coach leading a first-time offensive coordinator and the team's third defensive coordinator in as many years. It could be a long season.

Best player bet: Justin Fields over 525.5 rushing yards (-106)

Aside from Darnell Mooney, Fields doesn't figure to have many exciting weapons to throw to in 2022. Fortunately, a decent chunk of his value comes from his legs, and we expect him to rack up the rushing yards throughout the year.

Fields played a dozen games as a rookie, but he didn't deploy his running skills until later on. In his first six games, he averaged 4.3 carries and 17 yards. In his next six, he averaged 7.7 carries and 53 yards.

To clear this mark over 17 games, Fields would need roughly 31 rush yards per contest. If the lack of receiving weapons doesn't carry him there, Fields' sheer talent certainly should.

O/U win total prediction: Though the Bears went 6-11 last year, they were only 2-8 with Fields as the starter. His growing pains came early and often — in the form of 12 fumbles, 10 picks (versus seven TD passes) and a 58.9% completion rate (35th out of 38 qualified quarterbacks).

With a completely new coaching regime, Fields will have to learn a new system after trying to figure out a different one as a rookie.

Given the struggles he's already endured, we can't back the Bears to improve on last year's win total.

Pick: Under 6.5 wins (-143)

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