After going 13-3 and making it to the NFC Championship last season, expectations remain high for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers entering this year. And why wouldn’t they?
The reigning NFL MVP is back, as are most of Green Bay’s key contributors from last year. They were able to resign Aaron Jones, something that was considered a long shot entering the offseason. Defensively, they fired Mike Pettine and Joe Barry takes over as defensive coordinator, but all the main ingredients are back on that side of the ball as well. This would seemingly keep the Packers in the upper echelon of teams in the NFL, and William Hill’s win total projections reflect that.
The bookmaker released their over/under win totals for each team, and the Packers come in with the third-highest mark, trailing only the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. This makes sense, Kansas City and Tampa Bay were in the Super Bowl last year, and the Bucs are set to return all 22 starters from that championship squad while the Chiefs have kept their nucleus largely intact.
The Packers’ win total is set at 11. Keep in mind the league is extending to 17 regular-season games next season, so while 11 is certainly a dangerous number to take an over on for any team, bettors will have the extra game to flirt with — something that Vegas obviously takes into consideration as well.
Green Bay has gone 13-3 in each of Matt LaFleur’s first two seasons as head coach. Suggesting they get over 11 wins this year isn’t some wild take that will carry with it a lot of attention. However, betting the over carries some value. The “over 11 wins” bet for Green Bay sits at (plus-105) while the under is at (minus-125).
To put a larger perspective on this total for Green Bay, the rest of the NFC North is as follows.
- Minnesota Vikings (O/U 8.5 wins)
- Chicago Bears (O/U 7.5 wins)
- Detroit Lions (O/U 5 wins)
Detroit’s five projected wins are tied with the Houston Texans for the lowest total of any team. When you have as much coaching turnover, the Lions constantly have, and you trade Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff, these are the preseason expectations — or lack thereof — that get slapped on you. You’d be hard-pressed to find many people who think they have even a puncher’s chance at competing in the division next season.
The Vikings are coming off an underwhelming 7-9 season that saw their defense fizzle out from the start of the season when the Packers hung 43 points on them in Minnesota. Kirk Cousins is back, as is Mike Zimmer and the Vikings will likely flirt with a playoff berth again next year. Their defensive line gets a boost in multiple ways after they struggled to pressure the quarterback last year. Danielle Hunter will be returning from injury, Michael Pierce will be back after opting out last season and the Vikings added more beef in free agency when they signed Dalvin Tomlinson. Still, the 8.5 win projection is well behind Green Bay’s 11.
In Chicago, it was hard to fathom things downgrading at the quarterback position for them after the Mitchell Trubisky era came to an end — he signed with the Buffalo Bills — but lo and behold, the Bears may have achieved just that after signing Andy Dalton. Chicago remains a mess. Both Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace are on the warmest of hot seats, and they don’t have much of a roster to boast about at the moment.
All of this signals that Vegas views the Packers as sizable favorites to once again win the NFC North. It’s possible the Packers stayed the same and their offseason moves would lean in that direction while the rest of the division may have gotten worse outside of the Vikings.
However, in the larger picture, the question remains whether or not Green Bay has enough to simply run it back next year to try and win the Lombardi Trophy. But even though a lot can happen throughout the season and you can never predict injuries, the Packers are the rightful favorites to win the division at a minimum once again next year.
There have been many intricacies this offseason, whether it’s Rodgers’ contract, bringing back Kevin King, or what the plan is with Jordan Love. But one thing has remained the same throughout: The Packers should be right in the thick of the race for a Super Bowl.
And when you have Rodgers under center, you always have a chance.