A new favorite to be the Kings of the North has emerged.
Well, at least according to the sports book at Caesars Palace.
The oddsmakers at Caesars have set the 2020 win total for the Minnesota Vikings at 9, per ESPN’s reporting. That number is the most of any team in the NFC North. Minnesota is also a +175 co-favorite to win the NFC North along with the Green Bay Packers. As for the Chicago Bears, their win total has been set at 8.5 wins and are +225 to win the division for the second time in three years.
What stands out to me most is that the Vikings’ highest projected win total in the North. Sure, Minnesota had a remarkable playoff win in New Orleans to get off a slide. But we’re still talking about a team that is 1-5-1 against the Bears and Packers the last two seasons when Kirk Cousins starts. Are oddsmakers really willing to bank on Cousins and friends exercising the demons against their divisional foes? Or are they expecting the Vikings to clean up in the other 12 games on their schedule? In either case, it’s a curious number.
Another number that piques my curiosity is that the Bears and Packers have over/under win totals set at 8.5 wins. The Packers were this-close to having the NFC’s No. 1 overall seed. And they went to the NFC Championship game (where they were out-classed by a Niners squad that was oh-so-close to capturing the Lombardi Trophy).
So what does Caesars know that the public doesn’t?
For what it’s worth, the Bears were knocked down a peg by oddsmakers at this time last year, too. Chicago’s 2019 team opened with projected win totals of 9 or 9.5 in most gambling circles, even after a 12-win season. Under bettors were rewarded after the Bears went 8-8 in 2019.
As for the Packers, perhaps the oddsmakers are basing their feeling on last year’s underlying metrics. Green Bay’s offense ranked 15th in scoring and 18th in yards. And while the defense checked in among the top-10, the unit allowed the 18th most yards and 12th most rushing touchdowns. Pro Football Reference’s math had the Packers with a 9.7-6.3 Expected W-L record, which is a number based on the difference between points scored and allowed.
In any case, it’s still ridiculously early to have strong feelings about where any team in the NFC North is going to end up. Then again, I don’t have much room to talk as I clutch onto my Kyler Murray MVP futures ticket I picked up at the opening of the Rivers Sports Book outside of Chicago back in March (which feels like it happened ages ago).