Despite the popular belief that the Green Bay Packers are a lock to win their division with ease this 2017, the Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and to an extent the Chicago Bears still make for three NFC North teams that can really give the Packers a run for their money.
Here’s how we’ve predicted each team from the longest-tenured division in the NFL will finish in the upcoming regular season.
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2017 NFC North Team Win Total Predictions
Green Bay Packers
2016 Record: 10-6
2017 Over/Under Odds: 10.5
For as long as Aaron Rodgers is at the helm of the offense, Green Bay is in very good hands. While the team still has some holes on defense left unattended during the offseason, its offense is once again well-equipped to carry the team to another inevitable postseason appearance, especially with the addition of tight end Martellus Bennett and wideout Jordy Nelson back into his prolific form.
The Packers’ roughest stretch of the season is actually during the first couple of weeks; they’ll host the Seahawks on Opening Week before heading out to Atlanta for an NFC title game rematch against the Falcons. But from there on out, the schedule gets much easier, with meetings against the Cowboys and Steelers as the only real road blocks.
Writer’s Prediction: A 12-win season for the Packers is highly realistic, so taking the OVER would be a wise choice.
2016 Record: 9-7
2017 Over/Under Odds: 7.5
Detroit’s clutch factor somehow vaulted the team into the playoffs as a wild card, but winning a bunch of close games will never translate to a division title at that.
The Lions boast a pass-happy offense led by Matthew Stafford, but their reluctance to take riskier shots downfield means that their ground game must come alive. Running back Ameer Abdullah needs to bounce back from the multitude of injuries he’s faced since joining the team in 2015, as the Lions need to chew up more game clock to make up for their rather porous defense.
Writer’s Prediction: Detroit has gone 7-9 in two of the last four seasons (both during odd-number years), leaving us more inclined to side with the UNDER.
2016 Record: 8-8
2017 Over/Under Odds: 8.5
A young and imposing defensive unit had the Vikings off to a torrid five-game win streak to start the previous season. However and much like the Lions, their running game was nowhere to be found because of an atrocious offensive line, eventually having them sputter to a disappointing .500 record.
On the bright side, Minny’s only significant loss in the offseason was the departure of franchise legend Adrian Peterson, whose production from the backfield is questionable at best given his current age. Signing Latavius Murray and drafting FSU’s Dalvin Cook more than makes up for the loss of AP, and the additions of Riley Reiff and Mike Remmers in the O-line further complement their offensive overhaul. These moves, in turn, give the Vikes a decent chance of being a true challenger to the Packers’ claim of the North.
Writer’s Prediction: A one-win improvement for the Vikes is highly plausible. Taking the OVER should be a sound call.
2016 Record: 3-13
2017 Over/Under Odds: 5.5
Chicago’s Draft Day blunders pretty much signalled that the team won’t be seriously contending for a playoff spot just yet, let alone the division crown. Not unless Mitchell Trubisky proves his doubters wrong by having a banner rookie season, that is. Even then, the Bears’ other two QBs on the roster in Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez aren’t exactly suitable mentors to groom Trubisky for the starting job.
Running back Jordan Howard seems like the only guarantee to have a great season for the Bears. However, opposing teams can easily focus on containing Howard. That leaves either Glennon, Trubisky and Sanchez with the tough task of exceeding each of their expectations in the passing game, and the thought of that ought to incite plenty of groans from the Windy City faithful throughout the season.
Writer’s Prediction: Granted how coming away with wins in at least half of their divisional matchups is a tall order in and of itself, bank on the Bears to finish well UNDER the 5.5 line.
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We are just over 48 hours removed from the completion of the 2017 NFL Draft, and now would be the ideal time to predict the future and break down the recently-released NFL season win totals for every team.
Most NFL teams believe they were able to better themselves after the draft, but there are also many fan bases that are left scratching their head in disbelief (looking at you Chicago).
These win totals were released by South Point Sportsbook in Las Vegas. So let's not waste any time and get right into some predictions.
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Arizona Cardinals: "Over/Under" 7.5 Wins:
The Cardinals succeeded at filling several major positional needs at the draft. The addition of Haason Reddick (LB) and Budda Baker (S) should help shore up a defense that gave up more than 20 points per game in 2016. The biggest question for this team is the health of David Johnson, who is undoubtedly the team's best player. Johnson suffered a knee injury in the last game of the year but was fortunate to escape with no structural damage. The weak spot for the Cardinals is at quarterback. Carson Palmer is too old for the rigours of an NFL season, and because of his unreliability on the field I expect them to miss the playoffs yet again. Go "under" 7.5.
Atlanta Falcons: "Over/Under" 10.0 Wins:
The NFL's best offense is still intact, so that's a solid starting point to work with. They added a few pieces on the defensive side of the ball to add depth to a defensive unit that finally started to come around late in the year. The post-Super Bowl hangover is real. And with the way the Falcons lost, I wouldn't be surprised to see them get off to a slow start. Based on the division they play in and the fact that nobody in the division got exponentially better, five wins from six division games is likely, which means I would lean "over" 10 wins here.
Baltimore Ravens: "Over/Under" 9.5 Wins
The Ravens were an eight-win team last year despite not being particularly good away from the friendly confines of M&T Bank Stadium. One can only assume they can win more than two road games this year, with trips to Miami, Jacksonville and Tennessee on the schedule. They also play a road game against the Browns. However, I have a hard time trusting Joe Flacco and a ground game that features no primary tailback. If they can go 4-0 in the four aforementioned road games, they should find themselves as a 10- or 11-win team. If they stumble, which I believe they will, they will duplicate last season's record. Take the "under" 9.5 wins.
Buffalo Bills: "Over/Under" 6 Wins:
The Bills are a disaster of an organization, but they did get better at the draft. They added a solid WR in Zay Zones and filled the cornerback hole left by Stephon Gilmore by selecting Tre'Davious White. It's hard to imagine a team that has finished above six wins in each of the last three seasons regress. However, as I look at their schedule I fully see it. It's going to be along and unhappy season in Orchard Park. Go "under" six wins.
Carolina Panthers: "Over/Under" 9.0 Wins
The Panthers struggled mightily last year on offense because Cam Newton had no support around him. The addition of Christian McCaffrey gives Newton a solid running back with excellent pass-catching abilities, and the addition of WR Curtis Samuel offers up an explosive deep threat. Everything unraveled fairly quickly last year, but I don't expect that to happen again. Going from a six-win team to a nine-win team is definitely doable for this team, and the schedule certainly favors it. Take the "over".
Chicago Bears: "Over/Under" 5.0 Wins
The Bears essentially pissed off the entire fan base by trading a slew of draft picks to the 49ers in exchange for swapping draft positions and taking a quarterback the 49er's didn't even want. They did very little to improve the club, and as a three-win club last year the future looks just as bleak. The Bears would have to win six games in order for you to lose the "under". Take the "under" five with confidence.
Cincinnati Bengals: "Over/Under" 8.5 Wins
The Bengals were a six-win team last year with the dubious distinction of having a tie on their record. The team might have been better if tight end Tyler Eifert was healthy for the majority of the season, but the weak link continues to be Andy Dalton. The Bengals went out and drafted receiver John Ross and running back Joe Mixon to give Dalton some weapons to compliment A.J. Green. The defense was solid last year, so I expect the Bengals to improve. I'd lean to the "over" 8.5 wins.
Cleveland Browns: "Over/Under" 4.0 Wins
Despite being the laughingstock of the league for the last handful of seasons, the Browns can take solace in the fact that they "won" the NFL Draft (whatever that means). Myles Garrett, Jabrill Peppers, David Njoku and DeShone Kizer are solid building blocks to help this team to become something other than the punchline to a joke. They went 1-15 last year, so it's probably dumb to take the "over" but I'll take the chance.
Dallas Cowboys: "Over/Under" 9.5 Wins
The Cowboys were a revelation last year, finishing with a 13-3 record, which was best in the NFC. With Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott one year wiser and more mature, the offensive is in good hands. The addition of Ryan Switzer and Noah Brown will help a receiving corps that needed a boost. Defensively, the Cowboys will be just as good and have even more depth. The other NFC East teams didn't do much to get on the Cowboys level, so another NFC East title is looking likely. Take "over" 9.5 wins.
Denver Broncos: "Over/Under" 8.5 Wins
The Broncos finished 9-7 last year thanks in large part to their world-class defense. The offense continues to be the weak-link of the team, specifically the quarterback play of Paxton Lynch and Trevor Siemian. During the draft, the Broncos were able to add a solid tackle that should help keep the QBs upright and a pair of wide receivers that will make it hard on opponents to defend. The AFC West is such a strong division that any struggles within the division almost guarantees the win total stay "under" the number. I'm siding with the "under".
Detroit Lions: "Over/Under" 8.0 Wins
The Lions had the NFC North title in their grasp before losing three straight to finish with a 9-7 record and second place in the division. They did very little to improve their team outside of drafting a pair of defensive players that figure to contest for a starting gig. Another nine-win season seems like the right pick, but the Lions managed to win eight games while trailing entering the fourth quarter. I find it hard to believe that will happen again. Go "under" eight wins
Green Bay Packers: "Over/Under" 10.0 Wins
The Packers' defense was atrocious last year due to injuries, so the front office made it a focal point when drafting this year. Despite the defense, Aaron Rodgers was able to carry this team to a 10-win season and another division title. The offense remains intact, and the schedule favors the Packers to defend their division crown. I fully expect the Packers to finish 11-5 and cash the "over" tickets.
Houston Texans: "Over/Under" 8.5 Wins
The Texans got their franchise quarterback in Deshaun Watson and everyone in Houston is happy. For now. Sure, you can make an argument that winning a playoff game last year was a big deal, but their opponent was playing a third-string rookie QB. In order to prove that wasn't a fluke, they must get back to the playoffs, and I believe they can do so on the back of a solid defense (with a healthy J.J. Watt) and an offense that is much times better now than it was during the Brock Osweiler era. Take the "over" 8.5 wins.
Indianapolis Colts: "Over/Under" 9.0 Wins
Andrew Luck's health is vital to this Colts team, and his health will determine how good the Colts can be. The Colts always had the offensive weapons to compete, which made this draft crucial in adding key pieces to the defense. Safety Malik Hooker is a sure-fire starter and will help stabilize a defense that gave up more than 24 points per game. As an eight-win team last year (without Luck for the majority of the season), I'd expect them to get back into the playoff picture and challenge for the division title. Take "over" 9 wins.
Jacksonville Jaguars: "Over/Under" 5.5 Wins
The Jaguars were a three-win team last season, so to expect anything more from this franchise would be insane. The Jags tried to mimic the Cowboys by selecting Leonard Fournette fourth overall, but they simply don't have the O-line capable of helping Fournette become a star as quick as Elliott did. That's not to mention that they still have Blake Bortles as their QB. "Take the "under" 5.5.
Kansas City Chiefs: "Over/Under" 9.0 Wins
The Chiefs finished with the second-bestrecord in the AFC last year at 12-4. That didn't stop them from trading up in this year's draft to select their potential "quarterback of the future", Patrick Mahomes. That can't sit well with Alex Smith, and you have to wonder if the pressure will get to him. Fortunately for the Chiefs, they have a Top-10 defense and surrendered just 19 points per game last year. I doubt they will be as good as last year, so double-digit wins are pushing it. This could go either way, but I'll take Andy Reid's clock management issues as a reason to go "under" 9 wins.
Los Angeles Chargers: "Over/Under" 7.5 Wins
The Chargers were a five-win team last year despite blowing several fourth-quarter leads. Had they been healthy for the entire season and with better fourth-quarter luck, this team could have been around .500 on the season. They added a solid piece at the draft by taking Clemson wide receiver Mike Williams. He will add another big-body target and vertical option in the passing game for Philip Rivers to utilize. They also used the draft as a way to shore up a weak offensive line. They play in a tough division, but I believe .500 is doable for this team. Take the "over" 7.5 wins.
Los Angeles Rams: "Over/Under" 5.5 Wins
It's hard to imagine the Rams not improving on their four-win campaign from last year. However, when you look at this team from top to bottom, there is absolutely nothing to get excited about. The quarterback situation is a mess, and Todd Gurley struggled mightily in his sophomore campaign. The receiving corps is one of the weakest in the league, and they did nothing at the draft that will put them in a position to win close games. I would play the "under" 5.5 wins with high confidence.
Miami Dolphins: "Over/Under" 7.5 Wins
The Dolphins were a 10-win team last season, and now Las Vegas expects them to regress. I could see it happening. Ryan Tannehill is a mediocre quarterback at best, and his supporting cast can be hit or miss on any given weak. They had several needs to address at this year's draft and fulfilled them by drafting an edge rusher, linebacker and a cornerback. The schedule is also one of the trickiest to navigate with road games at Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina and Kansas City. I'd lean "under" 7.5 wins.
Minnesota Vikings: "Over/Under" 8.5 Wins
After Teddy Bridgewater went down with a gruesome knee injury, many thought the Vikings' season was all but over. They made a bold move to acquire Sam Bradford, and he played decent for the majority of the games. The Vikings were able to add a few dangerous weapons on offense at the draft in the form of running back Dalvin Cook and receiver Rodney Adams. They also return the main parts of a Top-6 defense (19.2 points allowed per game). If the defense can replicate last season's performance and the offense can stay healthy, this could very well be a 10-win team. Take "over" 8.5.
New England Patriots: "Over/Under" 11.0 Wins
Isn't this always a no-brainer to take the Patriots "over" whatever win total Las Vegas throws at us? They are coming off a Super Bowl win and still managed to pry away Buffalo's best cornerback and trade for the Saints' best receiver. They also only had four draft picks but made the most of them by adding players that will compete for spots in the rotation. The AFC East is usually terrible, so 6-0 is likely. I'm sure they can find five more wins elsewhere. Take "over" 11 wins.
New Orleans Saints: "Over/Under" 8.5 Wins
The Saints gave up 28.4 points per game last year, which was second-last in the NFL. They addressed their needs to improve the defense by selecting arguably the top cornerback in the draft in Marshon Lattimore. The Saints lost their go-to receiver via trade with New England but signed Adrian Peterson to a multi-year deal. Only time will tell how that signing will help the team. However, what I do know right now is that Drew Brees is getting older and seems to have lost a step or two. I expect the Saints to struggle once again this year. Improving by two wins is unlikely. Take "under" 8.5.
New York Giants: "Over/Under" 9.0 Wins
Despite finishing with 11 wins last year, the Giants were an enigma of a team. One week they looked Super Bowl bound and another week they looked headed for a top draft pick. The offensive line needs help and the Giants haven't addressed that need yet. With the Cowboys and Eagles and Redskins all improving on paper, a double-digit win total is hard to image. I'd side with the "under".
New York Jets: "Over/Under" 5.5 Wins
Any team with a quarterback depth chart featuring Ryan Fitzpatrick, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty is in trouble. They did nothing to help the offense at the draft and picked two safeties with their first two picks to compete for one spot. That makes no sense. They won five games last year, and I can't imagine them being better than last year. Look for the Jets to pick in the Top 3 at next year's draft. "Under" 5.5 wins.
Oakland Raiders: "Over/Under" 9.5 Wins
Barring a regression from quarterback Derek Carr after his injury last season, this team has the talent to win another 12 games this season. The offensive weapons remain intact, and the hunger to get back to the postseason after last year's ugly exit has to be what drives this team. They used the draft to get help on defense, and I think that makes all the difference this year. Raiders finish with 12 wins again and win a playoff game.
Philadelphia Eagles: "Over/Under" 8.5 Wins
The Eagles finished last season with a record of 7-9 in Carson Wentz's debut season. Wentz looked solid for stretches and looked like a raw rookie in others. You got to believe the experience will allow Wentz to perform better on a consistent basis. The focus at the draft was on the defensive side of the ball, and I feel like they got better. I expect the Eagles to improve this year. Go "over" 8.5 wins.
Pittsburgh Steelers: "Over/Under" 10.5 Wins
There wasn't much the Steelers could do last year to defeat the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. On paper, this is the second-best team in the conference, and a relatively healthy season would likely ensure they get back to the postseason. They made solid draft choices when they were on the clock, selecting T.J Watt and JuJu Smith-Schuster - both of whom will get into the starting lineup and be effective. Hard to see the Steelers not winning the division with 11 wins. Go "over" 11.5.
San Francisco 49ers: "Over/Under" 4.5 Wins
Few teams had a better draft day then the 49ers. They selected twice in the first round and chose can't-miss prospects, Solomon Thomas and Reuben Foster. Those players will improve the defense, but it's the offense I'm worried about. The 49ers averaged 19.3 points per game, which was 27 th overall. They drafted C.J Beathard to potentially be the QB of the future, but his time isn't now. Because of a sputtering offense, the Niners will struggle once again. "Under" 4.5.
Seattle Seahawks: "Over/Under" 10.5 Wins
The Seahawks are a tricky team to figure out. Sometimes the offense looks great, sometimes not so much. The key defensive players are all getting older, and the "Legion of Boom" is wilting away. The brass knew this and they used four of their first five draft picks on defensive help. Improving on a 10-win season last year is likely, and I will continue to trust Russell Wilson until he lets me down. "Over 10.5"
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: "Over/Under" 8.0 Wins
The Bucs are having themselves an A+ offseason, both in free agency and at the NFL Draft. They signed DeSean Jackson as a compliment to Mike Evans and they managed to land O.J. Howard, who some are calling the "best football player" in the entire draft. With this haul, I believe this win total is a tad low, which is why I like the "over". They won nine games last year - there is no reason to believe they can't do it again after getting better in the offseason.
Tennessee Titans:"Over/Under" 9.5 Wins
The Titans finished with a record of 9-7 last year, and this year's win total is tough to judge. Front office gave Marcus Mariota more weapons to work with, but how he bounces back from a late-season injury is vital in this team's success. Also, there were glaring needs on defense that needed to be addressed that weren't. There division is weak, so perhaps a 10-win season is doable. It all depends on Mariota, though. Lean "under" 9.5.
Washington Redskins: "Over/Under" 7.5 Wins
The Redskins finished with eight wins last year, and Las Vegas expects this season to be par for the course. The defense was terrible for the majority of last year. However, with new addition of Alabama studs Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson, that unit should be improved. Offensively, they lost their deep threat in Jackson and the ground game sputtered at times. I don't think Kirk Cousins will do enough to get this team to .500. Take "under" 7.5 wins.
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