NFC North Predictions 2024: Division Winner Odds & Best Bet

Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions celebrates in the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at Ford Field on December 19, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan.
Image Credit: Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions officially restored the roar last year, pushing the eventual NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers to the limit in the NFC Championship Game. They weren’t the only success story in the NFC North, though.

The Green Bay Packers have seemingly found their next franchise quarterback and also took the 49ers down to the wire in the NFC Divisional Round after boat-racing the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card Round. 

The Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings picked their potential franchise signal-callers in this year’s NFL Draft, adding another layer of intrigue to the NFC North Division. Which team will capture the NFC North crown, and is that the most appealing bet for the division? Let’s dig in and find out.

NFC North Odds

  • Lions – (+145)
  • Packers – (+190)
  • Bears – (+295)
  • Vikings – (+1100)

Odds via Caesars Sportsbook as of June 4.

Detroit Lions Odds to Win NFC North: (+145)

Perhaps the most important move for the Lions in the offseason was the one that didn’t happen and didn’t involve a player. Ben Johnson is returning as their offensive coordinator, and the club also signed Jared Goff to an extension. 

Detroit’s offense was the A-side of the ball in their 12-5 season. According to FTN Fantasy, the Lions were seventh in total Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) and fifth in offense DVOA in 2023. Per Sumer Sports, Detroit was seventh in Expected Points Added per Play (0.06 EPA/Play) and seventh in success rate (45.9 Success%). 

However, the Lions were 13th in defense DVOA, 19th in special teams DVOA, 20th in EPA per Play allowed (-0.01 EPA/Play), and 18th in success rate against (43.5 Success%). Thus, Detroit’s point differential was a good but not great +66 points. If they hope to take a step forward this year, the Lions need their defense to improve. 

Wisely, the Lions invested significant resources on the defense, signing defensive tackle D.J. Reader, edge rusher Marcus Davenport, and cornerback Amik Robertson. Detroit also traded up to the 24th pick in the NFL Draft to select cornerback Terrion Arnold and double-dipped at the position with their second pick, choosing Ennis Rakestraw. The Lions have the correct idea, but it’s not a shoo-in rookie cornerbacks will hit the ground running. Still, Detroit has a talented team and is understandably a slight favorite to win the NFC North. 

Green Bay Packers to Win NFC North: (+190)

The Packers’ 9-8 record and +33-point point differential last season were good enough to claim a playoff berth. As for the Lions, Green Bay’s offense did the heavy lifting. Yet, the Packers had a worse defense, ranking 27th in defense DVOA, 23rd in EPA per Play allowed (0.01 EPA/Play), and 26th in success rate against (44.8 Success%). 

Green Bay did the sensible thing in the offseason, replacing defensive coordinator Joe Barry with Jeff Hafley. Additionally, the Packers infused talent into their defense, signing safety Xavier McKinney and spending three top-100 picks in the NFL Draft on the defense. Improving the defense is a straightforward path to challenging the Lions for the NFC North title. However, spoiler alert: the Packers have the potential for greater things than winning their division thanks to their blossoming offense and rocket-armed quarterback.

Chicago Bears to Win NFC North: (+295)

The Bears picked quarterback Caleb Williams first in this year’s NFL Draft. Chicago has improved the weaponry to maximize Williams’s long-term and immediate success potential. Specifically, they traded for Keenan Allen, signed Gerald Everett and D’Andre Swift, and drafted wideout Rome Odunze ninth overall and offensive tackle Kiran Amegadie 75th. 

C.J. Stroud had an incredible rookie season for the Texans in 2023, showcasing a rookie signal-caller can expedite the process of rebuilding and thrust a team into contention. However, the AFC South in 2023 wasn’t as strong as the NFC North projects to be this season. Moreover, I’m skeptical of Williams making a seamless transition to the NFL after regularly bypassing routine plays to try and make spectacular ones, often taking sacks when he was pressured. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Williams had a career-high 23.2% Pressure-to-Sack Rate (P2S%) in 2023. Comparatively, Stroud had a 14.1 P2S% in his final season at Ohio State. 

Chicago’s defense had an encouraging finish to their 2023 campaign. Trading for edge rusher Montez Sweat proved to be a shrewd move. Still, it’s unwise to overstate a big finish on defense that featured matchups mostly against below-average to dreadful offenses. The Bears could contend for a playoff berth this year, but the Lions and Packers shouldn’t have trouble fending off Chicago for the division title this season.

Minnesota Vikings to Win NFC North: (+1100)

The Vikings had a 7-10 record and only a -18-point point differential, which wasn’t too shabby for a team that lost Kirk Cousins to a season-ending injury in Week 8. Head coach Kevin O’Connell got the best he could out of last year’s Vikings after winning the division with a 13-3 record in 2022. The Vikings won all 11 of their one-score regular season games in 2022, which was undoubtedly lucky to some extent but probably also a testament to O’Connell’s coaching.

Nevertheless, it’s a new era for the Vikings after Cousins left in free agency and signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Sam Darnold will be the bridge quarterback if J.J. McCarthy isn’t ready to start games in the NFL. McCarthy is fresh off of winning a National Championship at Michigan. Yet, McCarthy had only 359 dropbacks in 2023, with Michigan’s offensive line, running game, and defense serving as the backbone of the championship squad. McCarthy has intriguing tools but might need seasoning, and Darnold has played chiefly like garbage in his NFL career. Taking the long odds and trusting O’Connell would be compelling in a lesser division but not in the NFC North.

NFC North Predictions & Best Bet

Jordan Love had an impressive first season as a starter, closing with a flurry after an up-and-down start to his 2023 campaign. Among 34 quarterbacks with at least 150 dropbacks from Week 9 through the Super Bowl, Love was PFF’s highest-graded passer (90.7), third in Big-Time-Throw Rate (6.7 BTT%), tied for the 11th-lowest Turnover-Worthy-Play Rate (2.3 TWP%), third in QB Rating (108.3), and had the second-lowest Pressure-to-Sack Rate (11.3 P2S%). 

Love’s best wide receivers and tight ends were all second-year pros or rookies. Can they reach another level in Love’s second season as a starter? What if one of the young pass-catching weapons emerges as a dominant player? The Packers were sixth in offense DVOA, sixth in EPA per Play (0.07), and eighth in success rate (45.1 Success%), possibly merely scratching the surface. Green Bay’s stock is rising, and their Super Bowl odds are alluring. Moreover, if they make a deep playoff run, there’s hedging potential at their +2000 odds at Caesars Sportsbook.

Best Bet: Green Bay Packers to win the Super Bowl | +2000 at Caesars Sportsbook

More Division Odds & Predictions

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