Training camp is finally here, and we are now less than two months away from the 2022 NFL season. This was the most dramatic offseason in NFL history, and the NFC North was certainly affected. The Green Bay Packers traded away Davante Adams, the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears hired new head coaches, and the Detroit Lions appear to finally be on the right track. In fact, Dan Campbell has been getting some serious money placed on him to win Coach of The Year this upcoming season.
The NFC North has belonged to the Packers for the last three seasons, but things could be about to change. This also could be a division that fields two playoff teams after failing to do so in 2021. Below, we will take a look at the win totals for all four teams in the NFC North and explain which direction we are leaning. There's value to be found with some of these lines, and it's smart to strike now before the numbers shift.
All NFL odds via Caesars Sportsbook.
Win total projection: 6.5 (Over +120, Under -140)
Strength of schedule: T-24th
Justin Fields went 2-8 in his first 10 NFL starts, but did show some good things as the year went on. His favorite target was Darnell Mooney, who will be the No. 1 wide receiver moving forward. While Mooney had a breakout campaign, this group as a whole is seen as a weakness. I believe rookie Velus Jones Jr. could surprise some people, but the squad of Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle and Tajae Sharpe don't exactly strike fear into the hearts of secondaries around the league.
The Bears went 6-11 in 2021, so with the 6.5 win total the obvious question is did this team improve in the offseason? New head coach Matt Eberflus will have fun with his top draft picks in cornerback Kyler Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker, but losing Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks and several other contributors like Bilal Nichols will hurt.
In looking at Chicago's schedule, the Bears begin the season against the San Francisco 49ers and Packers before seeing a handful of very winnable games in a row with the Houston Texans, New York Giants, Vikings, Washington Commanders and New England Patriots. Winning a few of those contests and staying healthy is key if you're betting the Over. However, my lean is to the Under since we don't have that push potential at 6.
The pick: Under 6.5 (-140)
Win total projection: 6 (Over -145, Under +125)
Strength of schedule: 28th
I love coach Campbell and how this team plays for him, but Vegas is asking Detroit to double its win total from last year. While I do think this Lions team should fare better in 2022, Campbell's next mission is to figure out if Jared Goff is the future under center. The former No. 1 overall pick did some good things in 2021, completing a career-high 67.2 percent of his passes and throwing just eight interceptions, but quarterback is the most important position in football, and your ceiling as a team can be severely limited if you don't have a top 10 or top 15 signal-caller.
The Lions are going to win more than three games in 2022, but I don't see them winning seven games and hitting the Over.
The pick: Under 6 (+125)
Green Bay Packers
Win total projection: 11 (Over -110, Under -110)
Strength of schedule: 22nd
I find it very interesting that Vegas upped Green Bay's win total for 2022 by half a game. I've made money on the Packers' Over in each of the last two years, but it's odd Vegas increased their win total after they lost Davante Adams. I'm certainly not someone who ever wants to count out Aaron Rodgers. I mean, the Packers have won 13 games in three straight seasons.
I think Green Bay made some nice additions on defense, but I'm still concerned about the wide receiving corps. Christian Watson is an intriguing prospect, but to expect he will come in and be an impactful Day 1 starter is not a sure thing. Still, I can't help but take the Over. The Packers are still the best team in the division, even if they don't win 13 games this year.
The pick: Over 11 (-110)
Win total projection: 9 (Over -125, Under +105)
Strength of schedule: 20th
The Vikings have what is the "toughest" schedule in the NFC North this season in terms of opponents' combined 2021 win percentage, but I think this team is live to win the division. In fact, I wrote about them as one of the five teams that could be better than we expect in 2022.
As I explained in that piece, the Vikings weren't a "bad" team in 2021. They went 8-9, and I think they just needed some leadership shake-up. I'm also partial to new head coach Kevin O'Connell for several reasons. He could soon become one of those stereotypical former Washington assistants that finds success as a lead man like Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, and he also has experience working with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins' backup, Kellen Mond, has already noticed there's more flavor in the offense. The Vikings won't fly over nine wins, but my projection is 10-7.
The pick: Over 9 (-125)