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2020 NFC North Predictions, Odds, Projected Records, and Win Totals

Eric Thompson

by Eric Thompson in NFL Football

Updated Mar 9, 2021 · 4:06 PM PST

Dalvin Cook Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) catches a pass in the third quarter during an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Minneapolis. The Bears defeated the Vikings 33-27. (AP Photo/David Berding)
  • The Minnesota Vikings are slight favorites to win an NFC North that figures to be a tight race
  • Green Bay won the division handily last year after finishing 13-3, but they’re due for a big regression
  • Will the Bears or Lions challenge for top spot? See our predictions for the division, below

The North is probably the last NFC division on bettors’ minds heading into 2020, and with good reason: nothing has really changed since last year. The head coaches are the same; the quarterbacks are (mostly) the same; the biggest offseason addition for any team came just this week.

A result of a quiet offseason, neither Packers, Vikings, Bears or Lions are anywhere near the top of the Super Bowl odds. The fact that there’s no clear-cut favorite this year means the North is offering some of the tightest NFL divisional odds heading into the 2020 season.

NFC North Odds and Win Totals

Team Division Odds at FanDuel Win Total at FanDuel SBD Win Probability
Minnesota Vikings +165 8.5 9-7 (20.9%)
Green Bay Packers +190 9 9-7 (21.1%)
Chicago Bears +370 8 8-8 (20.1%)
Detroit Lions +500 7 7-9 (20.3%)

Odds as of Sept. 1

Who offers the best value? Let’s explore.

Chicago Bears

  • 2019 Record: 8-8
  • Offense: 17.5 points per game (29th): 296.8 yards per game (29th)
  • Defense: 18.6 points allowed per game (4th): 324.1 yards allowed per game (8th)
  • Turnover differential: 0 (15th)

Whether describing last year’s flop or the 35 Super Bowl-less seasons prior to that, the common thread in the Windy City’s struggles is always at the quarterback position. Mitch Trubisky’s third season in the NFL was an unmitigated disaster, prompting the Bears to pass on extending the signal caller they once selected ahead of Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Instead, they brought in Nick Foles and now have a full-fledged QB controversy heading into the 2020 season.

Regardless of who gets the call under center, there’s not much in this Bears offense to get excited about beyond Allen Robinson. Chicago couldn’t run the ball effectively last season and now they’ll be without their number-one back to start the year.

The Bears will remain competitive thanks to their loaded defense. With Akiem Hicks returning from injury and Robert Quinn sliding in opposite Khalil Mack, Chicago will be able to dial up a lot more pressure than in 2019 when they still ranked eighth in defensive DVOA.

Key Offseason Moves

Key Additions Key Losses
Robert Quinn, Edge Kyle Long, G (retired)
Jimmy Graham, TE Leonard Floyd, Edge
Jaylon Johnson, CB Prince Amukamara, CB
Cole Kmet, TE Taylor Gabriel, WR
Germain Ifedi, OL Eddie Goldman, DL (opt-out)

Chicago’s offensive deficiencies mean this team is not good enough to go out and steal the NFC North, but if the Vikings and Packers falter, the Bears D might be able to capitalize. Spoiler alert: I don’t see that happening.

Prediction: 7-9 (Fourth)

Detroit Lions

  • 2019 Record: 3-12-1
  • Offense: 21.3 points per game (18th): 346.8 yards per game (17th)
  • Defense: 26.4 points allowed per game (26th): 400.4 yards allowed per game (31st)
  • Turnover differential: -5 (24th)

Despite a dismal record and a Big 12-caliber defense in 2019, Detroit brought back head coach Matt Patricia for what is sure to be several weeks of hot-seat storylines.

If Patricia’s D inspired more confidence, the Lions would be a popular sleeper squad for bettors this year after how great their offense looked prior to Matt Stafford’s injury. Before the starting QB was shut down in Week 10, Detroit was averaging 25.5 points per game and over 391 yards per game, with Stafford posting a 106.0 quarterback rating in Darrell Bevell’s system.

Unfortunately for Lions fans, Patricia’s big team-building goal seems to be, “reunite the 2017 Patriots defense,” a unit that was famously shredded by Nick Foles in the Super Bowl.

Key Offseason Moves

Key Additions Key Losses
Desmond Trufant, CB Darius Slay, CB
Jaime Collins, LB Damon Harrison, DL
Duron Harmon, S A’Shawn Robinson, DL
Danny Shelton, DL Graham Glasgow, OG
 Halapoulivaati Vaitai, OT Ricky Wagner, OT

Detroit could challenge for a playoff spot in this expanded field, but I don’t see them breaking through for their first division title in 27 years. If they end up firing Patricia early, look for them to be a hot second-half team under an interim coach.

Prediction: 8-8 (Third)

Green Bay Packers

  • 2019 Record: 13-3
  • Offense: 23.5 points per game (15th); 345.5 yards per game (18th)
  • Defense: 19.6 points allowed per game (9th); 352.6 yards allowed per game (18th)
  • Turnover differential: +12 (3rd)

Spite. That’s the weapon Packers fans are hoping can propel Aaron Rodgers to greatness after his team added virtually nothing in terms of actual pass catchers this offseason. Instead, their draft-day strategy was that of a team looking to pound the rock and control the clock: perhaps a slight overreaction to the beatdown the 49ers handed them in the NFC Championship.

Green Bay wasn’t as strong as their 13-3 record suggested last season, finishing 10th in overall DVOA and going 6-1 in one-score games. Their pass defense should still be a strength and, with a few new middle linebackers in place, perhaps the Pack will stop getting gashed on the ground.

Key Offseason Moves

Key Additions Key Losses
Christian Kirksey, LB Jimmy Graham, TE
Ricky Wagner, OT Blake Martinez, LB
Jordan Love, QB Geronimo Allison, WR
AJ Dillon, RB Devin Funchess, WR (opt-out)

Long-term, I hate all the decisions this team made in the draft and the direction they seem to be headed. But that shouldn’t stop them from being a playoff contender this year.

Prediction: 9-7 (Second)

Minnesota Vikings

  • 2019 Record: 10-6
  • Offense: 25.4 points per game (8th): 353.5 yards per game (16th)
  • Defense: 18.9 points allowed per game (5th): 341.6 yards allowed per game (14th)
  • Turnover differential: +11 (5th)

Kirk Cousins finally got to silence his critics, if only momentarily, after a huge Wild Card win in New Orleans last January. A heavy dose of Dalvin Cook and deep play-action shots to Adam Thielen was the formula to help Minnesota topple one of the NFC’s best, and it’s one they’ll need to repeat often if they want to contend in 2020.

Last year, Minnesota went 1-5 when they failed to rush for 100 yards, and with deep threat Stefon Diggs traded out of town, the Vikings are pretty thin on playmakers outside of their backfield.

Minnesota’s offense may also need to pick up the slack early, considering the changes Mike Zimmer’s defense is going through.

Key Offseason Moves

Key Additions Key Losses
Yannick Ngakoue, DL Stefon Diggs, WR
Justin Jefferson, WR Everson Griffen, DL
Jeff Gladney, CB Trae Waynes, CB
Linval Joseph, DL
Michael Pierce, DL (opt-out)

The Vikings entirely overhauled their cornerbacks this year, with Mackensie Alexander and Xavier Rhodes also leaving (based on his play in 2019, it would be an affront to Vikes fans to call Rhodes’ departure a “key loss”). In a division loaded with fearsome edge rushers, Yannick Ngakoue and Danielle Hunter might be the best tandem out there, but with questions surrounding the interior d-line and secondary, don’t expect another Top 10 defense right out of the gate.

Still, top to bottom, this is the roster I have the most faith in to claim the North in 2020.

Prediction: 10-6 (First)

Other division previews:

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