NFL NFC North Predictions, Odds & Season Projections 2023: Another winning season ahead for Justin Jefferson and the Vikings?

Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) celebrates his touchdown against the Green Bay Packers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The 2023 NFL season is rapidly approaching, but have no fear, there’s still plenty of time to check out our NFL futures guide which has our Super Bowl Champion picks, Conference winner picks, MVP best bets and so much more. But to get a better idea of each team, we’re going to break down every division and give a preview for each team, along with our best bet for the division in 2023. Before we get started, make sure to check out our AFC EastNFC East, and AFC West division previews. 

Up next is the NFC North, which will look a lot different in 2023. After 17 years of terrorizing the Lions, Bears and Vikings, Aaron Rodgers has left Green Bay to join the Jets in New York. I’m expecting a year of growing pains for the Packers, and while the Bears and Vikings both have potential to be an above-average team in 2023, it seems hard to imagine any team beating the Lions. In a division going through a lot of changes, who will come out on top?

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Detroit Lions (+140)

The Detroit Lions made great strides last season. Not that long ago, Lions fans would cover their heads with paper bags when attending games. But in 2022, that wasn’t the case, as the Lions came dangerously close to posting their first winning season since 2017. It didn’t always look that way though since Detroit won just once in their first 8 games. But midway through the season, the Lions underwent a stunning transformation, winning 8 of their next 10 games to close out the season. Something clicked in Detroit in the second half of the season which has oddsmakers putting their faith in the Lions for the first time in many years.

Heading into the 2023 season, the NFC North title is theirs for the taking. The Packers lost Aaron Rodgers which should send them into a short rebuild, the Bears were 3-14 last season and are expected to be better this year, but not division-winning better, and the Vikings had one of the luckiest seasons in history in 2022. I’m a full believer in Dan Campbell’s squad in 2023.

Minnesota Vikings (+270)

For a team that finished with the 3rd-best record in football last season, you might have expected to see the Vikings with better odds to win the Super Bowl this season. However, the Vikings are +3500 to hoist the Lombardi Trophy next February which are the 13th-best odds to win it all. This makes sense for many reasons, and the first being their 2022 season was extremely lucky. Minnesota not only had a stretch of games against the Commanders, Cardinals, Dolphins, Bears and Saints, but they also seemed to have the best fortune when playing above-average teams.

For example, the ending to their 33-30 overtime win against the Bills was bonkers. And it’s hard to forget about how the Colts blew a 33-0 lead against the Vikings in Week 15. Minnesota’s defense allowed the 3rd-most points in the league last year and somehow they only had 4 losses. Heading into the 2023 season, the Vikings no longer have Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen, Za’Darius Smith, Eric Kendricks or Patrick Peterson, so it could be a very different outcome for the Vikings in 2023.

Chicago Bears (+400)

The Bears finished with the worst record in football last season, but it didn’t start that way. Heading into their Week 4 matchup against the Giants, the Bears were 2-1 with wins against the 49ers and Texans. That’s when everything started to go south. Chicago lost 13 of their next 14 games and found themselves with the 1st overall pick in the 2023 Draft. Their terrible 2022 season provided Chicago with an opportunity to get a player who could make an immediate impact on their team in the Draft. But the Bears decided to go about it differently and traded away their #1 pick to Carolina to get Justin Fields another weapon on the field in the form of D.J. Moore.

However, perhaps their most notable offseason acquisition would be Tremaine Edmunds, who was the star of Buffalo’s defense. Heading into Week 1, the Bears are expected to take a big step forward with Fields in his 3rd season and their defense in a much better position. With that said, competing for a division title still seems out of the question.

Green Bay Packers (+400)

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – Aaron Rodgers is gone. After 17 years in green and yellow, Rodgers has moved on to the Big Apple, but Rodgers wasn’t the only one to go to the Jets. Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb followed the future Hall of Famer quarterback to the Jets which leaves several huge holes in Green Bay’s offense. That’s where the problems start for the Packers. Green Bay did very little in the offseason to fill the holes in their offense which included Lazard, Cobb, Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis leaving. Unfortunately for Jordan Love, that will hurt him more than anyone.

The Utah State product has been the backup for Rodgers in the last 2 seasons and will finally get his shot in the starting role. But with a slim wide receiving group and two very strong running backs, Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon, I don’t expect Love to have the biggest impact this season. I’m expecting a year of growing pains in Green Bay as they transition to the post-Aaron Rodgers era.

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NFC North division predictions

Detroit Lions (10-7)

Minnesota Vikings (9-8)

Chicago Bears (8-9)

Green Bay Packers (7-10)

NFC North Best Bet: Green Bay Packers To Finish 4th in NFC North (+175)

I was between the Lions to win the division and the Packers to finish last, but I decided on the latter for several reasons. One, this pick has better odds. Secondly, it’s a rebuilding year in Green Bay, and there’s no shame in coming in last. The Packers and the Bears have the same odds to win the division, but the teams have totally different mindsets heading into the 2023 season. Chicago has Justin Fields entering his 3rd season and has added several big names to its offense (D.J. Moore) and defense (Tremaine Edmunds) so that the Bears can be a threat this season.

Meanwhile the Packers have lost nearly all of their offensive talent, except for their running backs, and added nothing in return. And on top of that, this will be Jordan Love’s first full season in the NFL. This should be the first year of a short rebuild for the Packers, so I’m expecting a rough season for Green Bay. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Packers end the year with less than 7 wins.

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