NFC North Predictions 2018
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Green Bay Packers – 2017 record (7-9) – ATS Record (7-9) – Over/Under Record (11-5)
- YPG Differential -43 / Yards Per Play Differential -0.6
- Point Differential -64 (14th in the NFC / 23rd in the NFL)
- Turnover Differential -3 (20th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 10 Wins for the Green Bay Packers
Last year we found out what we already knew. If Green Bay loses Aaron Rodgers they’re in big trouble. If we throw out the game he was injured very early vs Minnesota, Rodgers played in 6 games last year and the Packers were 4-2 in those games averaging 27 PPG. In the games Rodgers was injured, Green Bay was 3-7 with 2 of those wins coming in overtime. They averaged just 18 PPG in those 10 games minus their superstar QB. Rodgers is back but with his age and wear and tear on his body can he get through a full 16 game season? If not, this team won’t get to 11 wins. Even if he can, 11 is probably a bit optimistic. Let’s not forget that his WR corp is quite inexperienced with Jordy Nelson now gone and Randall Cobb (old and injury prone) in a walking boot as we write this. It’s Devante Adams and a bunch of unknowns at wideout. The tight ends will be very good (Jimmy Graham) but the running game is average at best. Thus Rodgers must carry a huge load as per usual. The Green Bay defense finished in the bottom third of the NFL in YPG allowed, YPP allowed, and PPG allowed. They are also learning a new system as DC Mike Pettine has taken over for Dom Capers. The defense will be average at best. They won’t run through the division anymore as Minnesota has emerged as a big time threat and has the MUCH better defense. A brutal 5 game stretch in late October into November includes 4 road games @ Rams, @ Pats, @ Seahawks, and @ Vikings. That stretch will be as tough as any in the NFL and should keep this team at 10-6 tops. 9-7 is more likely and we’ll lean UNDER.
Against The Spread Numbers
- Since 2003, the Packers have the best ATS record in the NFL when facing division opponents. Green Bay has cashed in at a rate of 59% (54-38-1 ATS) vs the NFC North
- Since 2003, the Packers are 96-71-4 ATS as a favorite. 2nd best in the NFL behind New England.
- Since Favre took over as starting QB in 1992, the Packers have gone 238-196-19 ATS (55%) during the Favre/Rodgers era.
Minnesota Vikings – 2017 record (13-3) – ATS Record (11-5)- Over/Under Record (7-9)
- Yards Per Game Differential +68 / Yards Per Play Differential +0.6
- Point Differential +130 (3rd in the NFC / 5th in the NFL)
- Turnover Differential +5 (12th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play OVER 10 Wins for the Minnesota Vikings
We think the Vikings are the top team in the division and 10 wins might just be their floor. Is this team a full 4 wins worse than last year? We doubt it and that’s what it would take to finish under this number. They made an upgrade at QB with Kirk Cousins coming in from Washington. We realize Case Keenum had a career year but that’s just what it was and they caught lightning in a bottle with him last year. Keenum threw 22 TD’s last season and he had 24 combined in his previous 4 seasons. Cousins is the better QB and working with new offensive coordinator John Difilippo (with Philly as QB coach last year) is a perfect fit. RB Dalvin Cook is back at full strength after tearing his ACL early last season. Cook ran for nearly 400 yards in 3+ games last year before getting injured. The offense will be better than last year. The defense should remain near the top of the NFL after holding 12 of their 16 regular season opponents to less than 20 points. The addition of DL Sheldon Richardson was one of the top off-season acquisitions by any team in the league. With one of the best defenses in the NFL and an offense that should be better than last year, we like Minnesota to get to at least 11 wins.
Against The Spread Numbers
- Minny is now 44-23 ATS (66%) the last 4 seasons combined which is the best in the NFL over that period.
- The Vikes have been a huge money maker at home going 33-15-1 ATS (69%) since the start of the 2012 season.
- If you can get Minnesota as a home dog of more than 3 points, they’ve proven very profitable. Dating all the way back to 1980, they are 25-12 ATS (67%) in that role.
Detroit Lions – 2017 record (9-7) – ATS Record (8-7-1) – Over/Under Record (10-6)
- YPG Differential -18 / Yards Per Play Differential +0.0
- Point Differential +34 (7th in the NFC / 14th in the NFL)
- Turnover Differential +10 (5th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 8 Wins for the Detroit Lions
The Lions used the “smoke & mirrors” method to somehow get to 9 wins each of the last 2 years. The fact is that 2 years ago this team was outgained by 19 YPG and their point differential of -12 was the 6th worst in the NFC. Last year the Lions were outgained again but did have a much better point differential partly due to their +10 turnover ratio. Our feeling is this team was a bit lucky to get to 9 wins in 2016 & 2017 and this year it catches up to them. Of their 9 wins last season, only 1 came vs a team that made the Playoffs. That was a 14-7 win over Minnesota early in the season, a game the Lions were outgained but benefitted from a +3 turnover ratio. QB Matt Stafford is very good but the Lions lack of a running game puts too much pressure on him to be perfect. Detroit averaged only 76 YPG rushing last year (last in the NFL) and just 79 YPG the year before (30th in the NFL). The defense was subpar last year finishing in the bottom third of the league in YPG allowed, YPP allowed, and points allowed. They also have a new head coach Matt Patricia who has never been a head man before so we expect some growing pains in 2018. We feel they got a bit of a break last year going 5-1 vs division opponents sweeping Green Bay (Rodgers was out both games) and Chicago (who was starting a rookie QB). They’ll have a much tougher time this year and 8-8 is the best we see this team finishing. We like the UNDER here.
Against The Spread Numbers
- Since 2007, Detroit has gone OVER the total 98 times and UNDER just 77 times.
- Detroit is just 19-30-2 ATS coming off an outright win since September of 2011.
- Last year the Lions were 4-1-1 ATS vs division opponents. However from 2003 through 2016 they had the worst spread record in the NFC North vs other division teams (34-46-4 ATS).
Chicago Bears – 2017 record (5-11) – ATS Record (8-7-1) – Over/Under Record (4-12)
- YPG Differential -32 / Yards Per Play Differential -0.2
- Point Differential -56 (13th in the NFC / 20th in the NFL)
- Turnover Differential +0 (15th in the NFL)
2018 ASA prediction – Play OVER 6 Wins for the Chicago Bears
The Bears have really struggled to score points the last few seasons but if they can figure out a way to boost the scoreboard even a little, they should improve. That’s because they have one of the better defenses in the NFL. The Bears stop unit finished 7th in the NFL in total defense and 9th in yards per play allowed. Chicago hired Matt Nagy (former OC in Kansas City) as their new head coach and he is keeping DC Vic Fangio on the staff so we expect another strong defensive season. Speaking of Nagy, he led KC to their best offensive output since the 2013 season as they averaged 26 PPG. He has brought in some solid and experienced offensive coaches to try and turn this unit around. The Bears also added WR Allen Robinson who should immediately be their top receiver. We expect QB Mitchell Trubisky to look much better this season after getting a ton of experience in his rookie year. Despite their scoring troubles, Trubisky actually looked solid as the season went along completing more than 60% of his passes in 4 of his last 5 games. While that may not seem all that significant, keep in mind Trubisky did not complete more than 60% of his passes in any of his first 7 games. With 2 solid RB’s helping take the pressure off Trubisky, we look for Chicago’s offense to look much better with Nagy at the helm. Chicago should make a decent transition with their new head coach mainly due to their solid defense and coaching stability on that side of the ball. This team won 5 games last season and we like them to improve by more than 1 win this year. Take the OVER.
Against The Spread Numbers
- Chicago is just 49-59-2 ATS overall as an underdog since the start of the 2006 season.
- If you somehow catch the Bears as a road favorite, which might be tough this season, consider the OVER. They are 18-8 to the OVER in this situation going back to 2005.
- The Bears are just 53-78-3 ATS (40%) vs NFC teams since the start of the 2007 season.