As the most popular pro sport in America, the NFL is relevant 365 days a year. For the first time since 1978, when the slate went from 14 to 16 games, the NFL lengthened the regular season again this year. The 2021 NFL schedule was released on May 12 and all 32 teams will play 17 games during the 18-week season. Fans get an additional week of NFL betting and fantasy football action. It will also affect win total wagering.
Week 1 opens with Dallas visiting defending NFL champion Tampa Bay on September 9. The week ends with Las Vegas hosting Baltimore in the Monday Night Football fight. Regular season action concludes with Seattle visiting Arizona on Jan. 9, 2022. Wild Card Weekend, Divisional Round playoffs, and Conference Championship Sunday follow. The season ends with Super Bowl LVI on Feb. 13, 2022, at SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, Cali.
NFC North Division Futures Odds
Taking care of business early, with a Week 14 win in Detroit, Green Bay (13–3) claimed their second straight NFC North championship. Over the past decade, the Packers finished first seven times in the Black and Blue Division. Chicago (8–8) was a chameleon playoff contender but was knocked out during the Wild Card round by New Orleans. Minnesota (8–8) was eliminated from playoff contention in Week 16 as RB Alvin Kamara scored six touchdowns during the Saints 52–33 win on Christmas Day. Detroit (5–11) finished last for a third straight season. They won’t be much better this year.
Popular US based sportsbooks are offering a plethora of preseason football betting options. NFC North Division title odds, plus team win totals, are posted on the NFL futures board at FanDuel. While the odds and prices below are subject to change, unless there is a serious injury or stud player changes teams, the moves will be subtle. With questions swirling around QB Aaron Rodgers, will the Packers live up to their top chalk status? Will QB Kirk Cousins finally lead the Vikings to a title? How good (or bad) will the Bears and Lions be with new starting quarterbacks? Let’s break it all down.
Green Bay earned a first-round playoff BYE and then throttled the Los Angeles Rams 32–18 in the Divisional Round. Tom Brady vs. Aaron Rodgers followed, and Tampa Bay won the NFC Championship game 31–28. The Packers (-125) are favorites to win a third straight NFC North title. A year after defeating New Orleans in the Wild Card round, before losing to San Francisco, Minnesota finished ninth in the NFC standings. Depending on what happens in Mr. Rodgers’ neighborhood, Kirk Cousins may be the most experienced QB in the NFC North. The Vikings (+270) are second chalk.
Despite their 2020 playoff appearance, Chicago is third chalk with a (+300) NFC North title price at FanDuel. Following four tumultuous seasons, the Bears let free agent QB Mitch Trubisky walk and he will now ride the pine in Buffalo. Chicago signed QB Andy Dalton in the offseason. He is projected to start over rookie Justin Fields who the Bears selected 11th overall during the 2021 NFL Draft. Rounding out the division, Detroit is tagged with the third-highest division-winning odds with a +2100 moneyline. Only Houston (+2700) and Cincinnati (+2300) have greater longshot odds.
NFC North Champion Prediction: Minnesota Vikings (+270) moneyline
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Green Bay Packers – NFC North Win Total Futures
Following a 4–0 start, to the 2020 season, Green Bay went on a mediocre 3–3 run. The defense and offense stepped up after that as the Packers closed the regular season with a six-game winning streak. Rodgers, WR Davante Adams and RB Aaron Jones, were a lethal three-headed monster in last season. Management has all but slain that fantasy monster, as it’s highly unlikely that Rodgers will ever play for the Packers again.
A field goal attempt, late in the NFC Championship game, was the straw that broke Rodgers’ back. Down by eight points, the Packers had first and goal from the eight-yard line but took the ball out of Rodgers’ hands. Either Jordan Love or Blake Bortles will be the Week 1 starter. Due to the ongoing quarterback saga, the Green Bay win total is currently OTB at FanDuel. We will update this space when the odds are posted.
Key Players Resigned: RB Aaron Jones, TE Marcedes Lewis, DE Tyler Lancaster
Key Additions: QB Blake Bortles, QB Kurt Benkert
Key Departures: RB Jamaal Williams, C Corey Linsley, DL Montravius Adams
2021 Draft: OG Royce Newman, DT Tedarrell Slaton, CB Shemar Jean-Charles
Green Bay Packers Win Total Prediction: To Be Announced
Minnesota Vikings – NFC North Win Total Futures
Stumbling out of the starting gate, the Vikings’ 2020 season was basically over after just six weeks. The Minnesota defense was torched continuously during a 1–5 losing streak. The offense tried to keep up, but the Vikings were outscored by a 192–155 margin over the first six games. Playing slightly better on defense, Minnesota went on a 5–1 run before losing three of their final four games. The door, to the Vikings first NFC North Division title since 2017, appears to be wide open for Cousins and Crew.
The bulk of the Vikings’ schedule is six games against NFC North foes and four contests versus AFC North teams. The two Los Angeles teams, plus Arizona, Carolina, Dallas, San Francisco, and Seattle, round out the slate. Minnesota opens the season with a two-game road trip and has a Week 7 BYE. With Cousins improving, plus RB Dalvin Cook and WR Justin Jefferson doing their thing, a 9–8 record is within reach for the Vikings.
Key Players Resigned: G Dakota Dozier, WR Chad Beebe, PK Dan Bailey
Key Additions: CB Patrick Peterson, S Xavier Woods, DT Dalvin Tomlinson
Key Departures: TE Kyle Rudolph, LT Riley Reiff, S Anthony Harris
Key Draft Picks: OT Christian Darrisaw, QB Kellen Mond, LB Chazz Surratt
Minnesota Vikings Win Total Prediction: OVER 8.5 (-155) wins
Chicago Bears – NFC North Win Total Futures
A hot start had bettors wondering if Chicago was a playoff contender or pretender. The Bears went 5–1 out of the starting gate. That includes a 20–19 win against Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay. The other four wins were against teams that finished with a 20–44 record. Additional questions surfaced after Chicago went on the six-game losing streak. The Bears won three of their last four games to claim a NFC Wild Card berth.
A quarterback controversy is swirling in the Windy City as well. With Trubisky out of the picture, the Bears signed free agent QB Andy Dalton to a one-year deal. After nine seasons in Cincinnati, Dalton played in 11 games for Dallas last year. The Cowboys were 4–5 with the Red Rifle as their starter. The QB quandary in Chicago is similar to the Fitzpatrick/Tagovailoa scenario in Miami last season. Justin Fields may be the starter by Week 11 or so. Leaning towards UNDER – this is a PASS for me.
Key Players Resigned: WR Allen Robinson, CB Artie Burns, K Cairo Santos
Key Additions: QB Andy Dalton, RB Damien Williams, OLB Jeremiah Attaochu
Key Departures: QB Mitchell Trubisky, KR Cordarrelle Patterson, CB Kyle Fuller
Key 2021 Draft Picks: QB Justin Fields, OT Teven Jenkins, OT Larry Borom
Chicago Bears Win Total Prediction: PASS (UNDER lean)
Detroit Lions – NFC North Win Total Futures
A mirage out of the starting gate, Detroit opened with a 3–3 record last season. The losses were to Chicago, Green Bay, and New Orleans, who all made the playoffs. The wins were against Arizona, Jacksonville, and Atlanta who finished the season with a combined 13–35 record. QB Matthew Stafford played in all 16 games and Detroit averaged 23.6 points on offense. The Lions were kittens on defense as they allowed a league-high 32.4 points per game. The Cats offense will be even worse this year.
In a blockbuster offseason move, Detroit traded Stafford to Los Angeles for QB Jared Goff. The Lions also received the Rams’ first-round draft picks in 2022 and 2023, plus their third-round pick in 2021. Detroit traded the 2021 pick to Philadelphia. A steady offseason exodus out of the Motor City also included stud WR Kenny Golladay, RB Kerryon Johnson, and PK Matt Prater. It’s going to be another long season in Motown. While this wager may end up being graded a PUSH – bet Detroit UNDER five wins.
Key Players Resigned: DB Mike Ford, DE Romeo Okwara, LS Don Muhlbach
Key Additions: RB Jamaal Williams, WR Breshad Perriman, PK Randy Bullock
Key Departures: QB Matthew Stafford, WR Kenny Golladay, PK Matt Prater
Key 2021 Draft Picks: OT Penei Sewell, DT Levi Onwuzurike, DT Alim McNeill
Detroit Lions Win Total Prediction: UNDER 5 (-120) wins
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