NFL Futures Betting: Vikings favored in NFC North

By: Jimmy Sirody | Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Aaron Rodgers

Green Bay’s offensive line should help Aaron Rodgers in the 2010 season.

The Minnesota Vikings fell one agonizing play short of making it to Super Bowl XLIV and should quarterback Brett Favre return, they have enough for another deep playoff run in 2010.

The Vikings are the favorites to win a third consecutive NFC North title and compete for the home-field advantage necessary to reach Super Bowl 45. Minnesota has moped for months over their loss to the New Orleans Saints thanks to an uncharacteristic five turnovers, but appears to have moved on.

However, the Vikings’ path to Dallas is paved with potholes, beginning with an opening night showdown with the Super Bowl champion Saints on Sept. 9. Minnesota draws the short end of the straw with its NFL football schedule outside the division when it takes on the NFC and AFC East.

The Vikings finished the season on a 7-3-1 spread run and they have cashed at a 6-2-1 clip in their past nine as home favorites. They have thrived against division rivals as well, winning and ‘covering’ nine of 12.

Minnesota has taken advantage of the bye week recently, winning five straight (4-1 ATS). This year they face the New York Jets after their week off.

Last year the Green Bay Packers narrowly missed a shot at the NFL’s elite eight in a 51-45 overtime loss to Arizona. They made huge strides across the board, improving from six wins to 11, despite an NFL football offensive line that was ravaged with injuries.

Aaron Rodgers threw for 4,434 yards and 30 touchdowns with just seven interceptions last year. To become great, he must lower the number of sacks he took in 2009 (50). The return of Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher and the addition of first-round pick Bryan Bulaga provide stability on the offensive line and makes Rodgers job a lot easier.

Green Bay has been virtually invincible at Lambeau Field (32-6 since 1992) and against division competition. The Packers have won and ‘covered’ 17 of their last 24 against their Northern neighbors.

Green Bay has also been a solid investment on the highway, cashing 14 of 21 as road pups and eight of 12 as road favorites since 2006.

The addition of Julius Peppers should spice things up in the Windy City. The Chicago Bears defense will also benefit from the return of leader Brian Urlacher, back from the dislocated wrist that wiped out his entire 2009 season, and a healthy Tommie Harris at tackle.

Coach Lovie Smith is well aware that if the Bears don’t improve this season, after going 7-9 in 2009, he can pack his bags. He has been allowed to promote good friend Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator and hire former boss Mike Martz to run the offense.NFL football betting odds

Quarterback Jay Cutler seems an ideal fit for Martz’s system with his size, big arm and willingness to gamble downfield.

Chicago hasn’t been on the plus side ATS since 2006, posting a dismal 19-27-2 mark the last three years. The Bears have been especially toothless as road dogs, coming up short in that role at a 1-8-1 clip the last two seasons. Chicago is 3-36 SU as road dogs from Game 13 out since 1985.

The Detroit Lions filled two very big needs by getting defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and running back Jahvid Best with their two first-round picks. They also surrounded Suh with strong support personnel in Kyle Vanden Bosch and Corey Williams.

At this point there is little to suggest that the Lions will take any great leaps and bounds this season. They are going to be better because their talent is improving, but they’ve still got a long way to go.

The key is the progress of offensive “triplets” Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith.

Detroit has been unable to compete in the division, flunking 18 of its last 21 tests SU (7-15-2 ATS). The Lions have also been Thanksgiving turkeys, losing and failing to cash in their past six holiday appearances. This year the New England Patriots get a chance to kick the stuffing out of Detroit.

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