ASA’s NFC NORTH PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS – Aug, 27 2019

NFC North

Green Bay Packers – 2018 record (6-9-1) – ATS Record (6-9-1) – Over/Under Record (8-8)

  • YPG Differential +15
  • Point Differential -24

2019 ASA prediction – Play OVER 9 Wins for the Green Bay Packers

The Packers had a very poor year by their standards winning just 6 games in 2018 (1 tie as well).  With that being said, they actually outgained their opponents on the season and were probably a bit better than their overall record showed.  Aaron Rodgers had a down year completing just 62% which was the 2nd lowest number of his starting career.  Much of his struggles stemmed from his injury in the first game of the season vs Chicago.  His knee problems lingered the entire season and he was never at 100%.  He heads into this season healthy and with a better mind set.  The Packers ranked 10th in the NFL in total offense last year but struggled at times to score averaging just 23 PPG.  We expect that number to go up this season.  The defense definitely looks improved as they picked up some key immediate starters through free agency and the draft.  Despite the coaching change, LaFleur kept defensive coordinator Mike Pettine on board so the continuity on defense should be solid.  Green Bay should be better on that side of the ball as well.  The schedule is manageable as they start with 5 home games in the first 7 weeks giving them a shot at a fast start.  They also only have 5 games (out of 16) vs teams that made the playoffs last season.  We like Green Bay to get to 10-6 this year eclipsing this number. 

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Minnesota Vikings – 2018 record (8-7-1) – ATS Record (8-7-1) – Over/Under Record (6-10)

  • Yards Per Game Differential +36
  • Point Differential +19

2019 ASA prediction – Play OVER 8.5 Wins for the Minnesota Vikings

After making a run to the NFC Championship game 2 years ago, the Vikes came into last year with their total set at 10.5.  After winning 8 last year this number has been over adjusted in our opinion and 8.5 is too low.  We think the Vikings have a great shot at getting to 9 wins this year and we’ll lean OVER.  Minnesota leaned heavily on their defense in past year was no exception.  They finished 4th in the NFL in both YPG allowed and YPP allowed, however they gave up 21 PPG after allowing just 17 PPG in 2017.  In other words, they allowed more PPG than they probably should have when considering they only gave up 309 YP to opposing teams.   In 2017 they held 12 of their 16 regular season opponents to less than 20 points.  Last year 9 of their 16 opponents scored at least 20.  We would expect them to get back closer to their 2017 performance and allow less than 20 PPG this season.  The offense will have to step it up after putting up only 22 PPG last year.  Their running game, or lack thereof, was the main issue.  In 2017 they averaged 117 YPG rushing and last year that dropped all the way to 93 YPG.  With starting RB Dalvin Cook back and healthy this year after a spotty 2018, the Vikes running game should be solid.  That will help take some pressure of QB Cousins who is solid but isn’t someone who can carry a team in our opinion.  Veteran play caller Gary Kubiak has been hired as assistant head coach and offensive advisor which should bring new ideas to that side of the ball.  Our call is for Minnesota to finish 9-7 so take the OVER here.

Detroit Lions – 2018 record (6-10) – ATS Record (9-7) – Over/Under Record (6-10)

  • YPG Differential -8
  • Point Differential -36

2019 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 6.5 Wins for the Detroit Lions

The Lions will have to adjust to an entirely new offense in 2019.  Darrell Bevell takes over as offensive coordinator and he loves to run the ball which is not what Detroit is used to.  Their rushing offense finished 23rd in the NFL last year at 103 YPG which was up from what this team had done recently.  It was actually the first time since 2013 the Lions averaged more than 100 YPG on the ground.  Bevell’s offenses at Minnesota & Seattle averaged 132 YPG on the ground while under his watch.  This will be a big change for an offense that has revolved around QB Matt Stafford for years now.  Probably not a bad change for a team that averaged just 20 PPG last year and has topped 22 PPG only ONCE since 2013.  The problem is, while their offense has struggled to put points on the board, the defense has been OK at best allowing 22 PPG or more in each of their last 4 seasons.  Their defense last year was 27th in the NFL in overall efficiency by Football Outsiders.  Now with the learning curve of a completely different offensive scheme and an average defense, win might be tough to come by.  The NFC North already has 3 solid teams so someone is going to have to lose games in the division and we feel that might be Detroit.  They start the season with a game @ Arizona but after that it’s 5 consecutive games against the Chargers, Eagles, Chiefs, Packers and Vikings.  A 1-5 start is not out of the question.  We lean UNDER for Detroit.

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Chicago Bears – 2018 record (12-4) – ATS Record (12-4) – Over/Under Record (8-8)

  • YPG Differential +44
  • Point Differential +138

2019 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 9.5 Wins for the Chicago Bears

We have a feeling that this year’s Chicago team might be last year’s Jacksonville team.  Not to that extent as the Jags went from 10-6 in 2017 to just 5-11 last year.  Chicago was 12-4 last season and we absolutely expect a drop off this year.  Again not as drastic as Jacksonville, but we see a 9-7 or 8-8 year in store for the Bears.  Two years ago this team had a point differential of -56 and that number jumped to +138 last year.  That just doesn’t happen very often.  They have to regress record wise this year.  Chicago doesn’t have a lights out QB as Trubisky is still learning.  Because of that they relied very heavily on their defense which was very good.  That stop unit loses their leader with Vic Fangio who has moved on to the head coaching job at Denver.  The defense was so good under Fangio that again we think a decent regression is in order as they learn a new system under new coordinator Chuck Pagano.  Offensively they leaned fairly heavily on the run because their defense was so good and the relative inexperience of Trubisky.  The Bears averaged 28 carries per game last year and their workhorse, Jordan Howard, signed with the Eagles in the off-season.  They will need to lean much more heavily on Trubisky this year and we’re not sure he’s completely ready for that.  He was a middle of the pack QB in most key categories including completion percentage and yards per pass attempt.  We’ll call for Chicago to go UNDER their win total this season.