There’s no doubt the Green Bay Packers are in good shape to defend their NFC North title this year. But the beloved Packers are not the right choice for your NFL picks.
It’s easy to like the Green Bay Packers. They’ve been around since 1919, making them even older than the National Football League they play in. The Packers are also the only community-owned, non-profit club in any of the major North American sports leagues. Maybe more teams should try it; Green Bay has won 13 NFL championships, including four Super Bowls.
The Packers could make it five this year. They’ve been a remarkably good team during the Mike McCarthy-Aaron Rodgers regime, which is about to enter Year 10; the first nine seasons produced five NFC North titles and a win at Super Bowl XLV. The futures market at Bovada has Green Bay pegged at –200 to take down the division for the sixth time in seven years, way out in front of the Minnesota Vikings (+325), Detroit Lions (+600) and Chicago Bears (+2000). The Packers seem pre-destined for success – and they’re clearly the wrong bet to make for your early NFL picks.
You probably know the drill by now; to suss out the betting value in the NFC North, we’re looking at reliable (and free to use) computer projections, then comparing them to what’s on the NFL odds board. The projections, in this case, are provided by ESPN’s Football Power Index numbers from June 1, and here’s how the NFC North shakes out:
Packers 60.1 percent
Green Bay deserves to be favored over the field. But look what happens when we use the SBR Betting Odds Converter to turn those percentages into American odds:
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but the favorites to win the division are overvalued. So are the long shots; the betting value is with the other two teams in between. It’s a familiar pattern on the NFL futures market, and one you’ll see time and again going forward. The Packers (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS) simply have too many casual fans who are willing to bet a few dollars on their heroes, not even thinking much about the price they’re paying. It’s a perfectly acceptable wager, but as they say, it should be made for entertainment purposes only.
People don’t pay close enough attention to what happens in the Midwest (see: 2016 presidential election), and when it comes to the NFC North, the Packers naturally take up most of the headlines. The other marquee team in the division is the storied Bears (3-13 SU, 7-9 ATS), who have gotten more publicity in recent years for being bad at football. Now they don’t even have QB Jay Cutler to kick around. Sad!
Alas, the Bears don’t have any betting value either, as they try to get their rebuilding project out of the muck. That leaves the Vikings (8-8 SU, 9-7 ATS) and the Lions (9-7 SU, 8-8 ATS) with all the small-market goodness that sharp bettors crave. It’s a toss-up between the two for our NFL picks; according to the projections, Detroit’s a bigger bargain at these odds, but they’ve also had more injuries since June 1.
That’s where we have to bail on the Lions. They sent three players to injured reserve after the preseason opener – including DE Kerry Hyder with a torn Achilles. There goes Detroit’s pass rush. Let’s roll with the Vikings and perennially underappreciated QB Sam Bradford instead. Believe it or not, there are worse crimes in the world than being slightly better than average at football.
Free NFL Pick: Vikings +310
Best Sportsbook Line Offered: Bovada