It’s the Vikings and everyone else in the NFC North
So is it time to call the Minnesota Vikings the favorites to win the NFC North? While the Vikings haven’t exactly set the NFL world on fire despite their four straight victories and 5-1 start, none of the other NFC North teams look like they’re ready to mount a challenge to the Vikings as they take aim at their first NFC North title since 2017.
New York, New York
The Green Bay Packers (3-3) are a mess. The three-time defending NFC North champs have lost back-to-back games to the New York Giants and New York Jets, teams that are experiencing a resurgence but certainly not NFL powers. The Packers blew a 17-3 lead over the Giants in London; then they were booed at Lambeau Field last Sunday during a 27-10 loss to the Jets. That probably happened because the Jets blocked a field goal and blocked a punt for a touchdown to overcome going 1-for-11 on third-down conversions and throwing for less than 100 yards. Can you remember the last time the cheese heads booed their team? Sauce Gardner, the Jets’ flamboyant and lockdown rookie cornerback, wore a cheese head while he was celebrating with Jets fans after the game.
That had to sting. Green Bay should beat the Washington Commanders on Sunday, but then the Packers will take on the Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, and Philadelphia Eagles during a five-game stretch from Week 8 to Week 12. Looking ahead on the Vikings’ schedule, they’ll be home five times in six weeks in late November and December. That will be a big help in their stretch run. The Vikings beat the Packers 23-7 in Week 1 at home, giving everyone a hint of what was to come.
Rounding out the NFC North, the Chicago Bears (3-3) and Detroit Lions (1-4) are teams with so many flaws that they’re difficult to count. Bears quarterback Justin Fields is a work in progress with few weapons in his arsenal, a big reason why the Bears are scoring just 46% of the time they get into the red zone. They made three trips into the red zone during a recent Thursday Night Football loss to the Commanders and came up empty each time. The Lions were the highest-scoring team in the NFL, then they were shut out by the New England Patriots in their last game. Their defense is porous. It’s allowing 34 points per game. How many points will the Dallas Cowboys (and Dak Prescott?) pile up Sunday on the Lions? In typical Lions fashion, three of their four losses have come by a combined 10 points.
Favorites looking good
Here’s this week’s NFC North schedule with betting suggestions:
— Detroit at Dallas, 1 p.m. Sunday, CBS. Take Dallas (-7).
— Green Bay at Washington, 1 p.m. Sunday, FOX. Take Green Bay (-4.5).
— Chicago at New England, 8:15 p.m. Monday, ESPN. Take New England (-7.5).
— Minnesota has a bye.