NFC North Predictions 2023: Division Winner Odds & Best Bet

Nov 27, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love (10) passes the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field.
Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL season will be here before we know it. Most major free agents have found homes, and the NFL Draft is in the rearview. Thus, barring significant injuries, the general outlook for teams is clear. 

It’s an excellent time to scope out the sportsbooks. Bettors are encouraged to line shop for the best odds for team futures, such as team wins totals, to-make-playoff bets, division winners, conference winners, the Super Bowl winner, etc. 

The Packers have ruled the roost recently, but the Vikings won the division last year, and Green Bay has traded future Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers to the Jets. Yet, after a hot finish last year, the ascending Lions are the betting favorites to win the NFC North with the odds varied substantially across sportsbooks.

So, it’s imperative to line shop for the best odds on the team you expect to win the division. Fortunately, there is enough uncertainty about who will claim the NFC North crown for all four teams to have plus odds. 

NFC North Odds

Detroit Lions+140
Minnesota Vikings+275
Chicago Bears+400
Green Bay Packers+400

Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of August 23.

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Detroit Lions Odds To Win NFC North: (+140)

The Lions are the darlings of pundits and many football fans. They ended last year by ending Green Bay’s season in a win-and-in contest at Lambeau Field, finishing with a 9-8 record. Detroit has intriguing young talent on both sides of the ball.

However, they’re not bulletproof. Furthermore, their 9-8 record was reasonable relative to their other rankings and underlying data. Per Pro Football Reference, the Lions outscored their opponents in 2022 by 26 points, the best point differential in the NFC North. Additionally, according to Football Outsiders, the Lions were ninth in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA). And per Pro Football Focus (PFF), they earned PFF’s 14th-best overall grade. So, they were a slightly above–average team.

It’s not unreasonable they’re favored to win the division, but they are reasons for a pause before tying up money on them at +130. First, Jameson Williams is suspended for the first six games of the year for breaking the rules in the NFL’s betting policy. As a result, there’s much to be desired behind Amon-Ra St. Brown in the wide receiver group. Second, Jared Goff isn’t a talent-elevating quarterback. Instead, he’s mediocre to slightly better during his good years and a liability when he’s not sharp. Again, Detroit is an understandable favorite, but I’ll pass on betting on them to win the NFC North.

Minnesota Vikings Odds To Win NFC North: (+275)

The Vikings were 13-4 last year. However, they were outscored by three points. Obviously, they enjoyed good fortune in outkicking their point differential. They were 11-0 in games decided by one score (i.e., eight points or fewer). 

PFF and Football Outsiders conflicted in their measures of Minnesota’s 2022 success. The former gave them the fourth-highest overall team grade last year. The latter ranked them 27th in total team DVOA. 

Minnesota probably has the best quarterback in the division. Kirk Cousins is an above-average signal caller. Furthermore, Justin Jefferson is arguably the best wide receiver in the NFL. They should have offensive success again this year.

The Vikings hope new defensive coordinator Brian Flores can fix their lousy defense. Minnesota was 27th in defense DVOA and tied for the third-worst scoring defense (25.1 points per game). Flores should get more out of them this year. Nevertheless, it’s apparent what the Achilles heel is for the Vikings. 

Even with last year’s defensive shortcomings, the Vikings won the NFC North. So, a slight step forward on that side of the ball could help them offset forthcoming regression in one-score games. Ultimately, the +275 odds to repeat as the NFC North champion are somewhat compelling.

Chicago Bears Odds To Win NFC North: (+400)

The Bears “earned” the first pick in this year’s NFL Draft by finishing 3-14 last year. They had the fourth-worst point differential (-109), were 30th in DVOA, and were graded 32nd overall at PFF. 

The Bears’ chances to win the NFC North are on the shoulders of Justin Fields. The third-year quarterback made highlight-reel plays with his legs last year. Unfortunately, he was wretched at a passer. Fields was 30th out of 31 quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks last year in PFF’s passing grade. And according to Pro Football Reference, he was 25th in Quarterback Rating (85.2) and 17th in QBR (54.0) out of 33 qualified quarterbacks. 

Chicago demonstrated their faith in Fields to make a leap this year by trading out of the first pick in the NFL Draft. They acquired DJ Moore to be his new No. 1 wideout, hoping he’ll help Fields improve similarly to how Stefon Diggs aided Josh Allen and A.J. Brown helped Jalen Hurts. 

Chicago’s splashy off-season moves didn’t start or end there. They pumped resources into the offensive line by signing tackle Riley Reiff and guard Nate Davis and drafting offensive tackle Darnell Wright with the 10th pick. Therefore, the infrastructure is much better for Fields.

The defense also needed help after finishing 32nd in defense DVOA, 32nd in PFF defense-grade, and 32nd in scoring defense (27.2 points per game). Most notably, they shelled out big money to sign young athletic linebacker Tremaine Edmonds. They made other additions, too. Still, Chicago’s defense has a steep climb to respectability. 

Bears fans should be excited about the organization stockpiling draft picks and improving the roster. And optimism about Fields improving this year is fair, too. However, winning the NFC North is likely out of reach unless Fields goes supernova, and that’s not a bet I’m willing to make.

Green Bay Packers Odds To Win NFC North: (+400)

It’s a new era in Green Bay. They traded Rodgers to the Jets, and they’ll have a new starting quarterback. The organization has been spoiled. Since 1992, Brett Favre or Rodgers has started the majority of games for the Packers at quarterback. 

Fortunately, they have an in-house candidate waiting in the wings. The team raised an eyebrow by trading up to choose Jordan Love 26th in the 2020 NFL Draft.  Through three years, he’s started only one game and thrown just 83 passes in regular season games. Although, the time in the system could help him find his footing quickly as the new starter. And as a former first-round pick, he has a good draft pedigree. The range of outcomes is wide for Love in his first year as a starter. 

He won’t necessarily have to carry the team, though. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are a potent backfield combination. And head coach Matt LaFleur made a chicken salad as the offensive coordinator and the play caller for the Titans in 2018 before benefitting from coaching Rodgers. With a combination of Marcus Mariota and Blaine Gabbert starting at quarterback for the Titans in 2018, they were 23rd in offense DVOA. If Love can play better than the 2018 versions of Mariota and Gabbert, LaFleur might be able to ride Jones and Dillon to an average or slightly better offense.

The defense will also be critical for the Packers this year. They were 20th in defense DVOA, 21st in PFF’s defense grade, and tied for 17th in scoring defense (21.8 points per game). Green Bay has invested substantial draft resources in its defense recently. They drafted Rashan Gary 12th and Darnell Savage 21st in 2019, picked Eric Stokes 29th in 2021, selected Quay Walker 22nd and Devonte Wyatt 28th in 2022, and chose Lukas Van Ness 13th this year. So, they’ve picked six first-round defenders in the previous five drafts. And Jaire Alexander, the 18th pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is a stud in the secondary. If any of the youngsters develop, Green Bay’s defense can jump from slightly below average to solidly above average.

NFC North Predictions & Best Bet

The Packers could be dreadful this year if Love is overwhelmed. Yet, the NFC North is ripe for the picking, and LaFleur deserves some credit for the team’s success during his four years as the head coach.

He has a 47-19 record as a head coach, winning 13 games in each of his first three years at the helm before an 8-9 season in 2022. Simply, the price is too alluring to pass up when the rest of the division is flawed and filled with questions too.

Best Bet: Green Bay Packers to win the NFC North | +475 at DraftKings Sportsbook

More Division Odds & Predictions

Check out Josh’s predictions from across the other NFL divisions: