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NFC North Preview

   by ASA - 08/03/2017

NFC North

Green Bay Packers – 2016 record (10-6) – 1st in the NFC North
· Off YPG – 368.8 (8th) – Def YPG – 363.9 (22nd)
· Points scored 27.0 (4th) – Points allowed 24.2 (21st)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play OVER 10 Wins for the Green Bay Packers

This number was set at 10.5 last year and the Packers stayed under the number hitting a 10-6 record. QB Aaron Rodgers had his 2nd lowest QB rating since 2010 last season and this team still finished with 10 wins. We think 10 wins is the floor for this team with the ceiling being closer to 13 wins. Rodgers has a healthy Jordy Nelson back with a full season under his belt. They’ve also added two top notch tight ends (Martellus Bennett & Lance Kendricks) who should have huge years. The offensive line is one of the best in the NFL and we expect the running game to be better than last year. This will again be one of the top offensive teams in the NFL. With this offense, the defense doesn’t have to be great. If they are just OK that will be enough to get this team over 10 wins. The schedule starts out tough with a home game vs Seattle and then @ Atlanta. We’re looking at 1-1 to start but if they can get through 2-0 then watch out. If the beat the Seahawks at home to open the season, we look for Green Bay to run the table at Lambeau. The Packers are 54-14-1 their last 69 home games and they play only one other team at home that made the playoffs last year (Detroit). If that happens we should be set as they have a number of winnable road games. We have Green Bay favored in 13 of their 16 games as of right now and OVER 10 wins is more than doable.

Against The Spread – 9-6-1 ATS record / 10 Overs, 6 Unders
· Since 2003, the Packers have the best ATS record in the NFL when facing division opponents. Green Bay has cashed in at a rate of 60% (52-34-1 ATS) vs the NFC North
· Since Favre took over as starting QB in 1992, the Packers have gone 231-187-19 ATS (55%) during the Favre/Rodgers era.
· During that same time frame, the Packers are 160-126-14 when tabbed as a favorite (56%)
· Since 2005, the Packers have the best spread record in the NFL in all games coming in at 118-85-7 (58%)

Minnesota Vikings – 2016 record (8-8) – 3rd in the NFC North
· Off YPG – 315.8 (28th) – Def YPG – 314.9 (3rd)
· Points scored 20.4 (23rd) – Points allowed 19.2 (6th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 8.5 Wins for the Minnesota Vikings

The Vikes came out red hot last year winning their first 5 games only to lose 8 of their last 11 to end the season at .500. We have Minnesota set to win 8 games again this year so we’ll take the UNDER here. The Vikings are similar to a number of teams this year (see Texans, Broncos) in that they have a very good defense, but a less than stellar offense. They finished in the bottom 5 of the NFL in total offense and while QB Sam Bradford completed over 70% of his passes, many were of the dink and dunk version. With very little big play threat on offense (Vikings averaged 9.3 yards per completion which was 31st in the NFL), defenses were able to hold this team in check. RB Adrian Peterson was Minnesota’s key offensive weapon for nearly a decade and now he is gone leaving them without much of an identity on that side of the ball. The defense was very good last year but has to face the likes of Aaron Rodgers (twice), Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Stafford (twice), Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, and Cam Newton so we look for the numbers on that side of the ball to fall off this season. Their schedule from November 23rd – December 23rd might be their undoing. During that 5 week stretch they play @ Detroit, @ Atlanta, @ Carolina, home vs Cincinnati, and then @ Green Bay. We like the UNDER.

Against The Spread – 9-7 ATS record / 7 Overs, 9 Unders
· Minny is now 33-16 ATS the last 3 seasons combined which is the best in the NFL over that period.
· Vikes are 38-24-3 ATS at home since the start of the 2009 season – the 4th best home mark in the NFL during that time span.
· If you can get Minnesota as a home dog of more than 3 points, they’ve proven very profitable. Dating all the way back to 1980, they are 24-12 ATS (67%) in that role.
· However, if they are more than a 3 point favorite on the road, the Vikes are a money burner. Just 19-35 ATS in that role dating back to 1980.

Detroit Lions – 2016 record (9-7) – 2nd in the NFC North
· Off YPG – 338.8 (21st) – Def YPG – 354.8 (18th)
· Points scored 21.6 (20th) – Points allowed 22.4 (13th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 8 Wins for the Detroit Lions

The Lions used the “smoke & mirrors” method to somehow get to 9 wins last year. The fact is this team was outgained by almost 20 YPG and their point differential of -12 was the 6th worst in the NFC. They won a grand total of ONE game by more than a TD last year and 6 of their 9 wins came by 3 points or less or in OT. Last year they averaged just over 21 PPG which was their 2nd lowest PPG total since 2009. This once potent offense has fallen off the last few years and was actually held to 20 points or fewer in over half of their games (9 of 17). Stafford had a solid season but they still struggled to put the ball in the endzone ranking 24th in offensive TD’s per game. The defense was decent but nothing special and finished in the middle of the pack in many key categories. So how did they get to 9 wins? With 7 fourth quarter comebacks that’s how. They simply cannot be counted on to pull that off again. Down the stretch when they were playing for a playoff berth, this team lost 3 straight but still snuck into the post season. They were then whipped 26-6 by Seattle in the playoffs keeping the Lions winless in the post season since 1992. The schedule isn’t overly daunting with 5 playoff teams from last year on the slate but a lot of toss up type games this year. We have a feeling they won’t win as many of those down to the wire games in 2017. Detroit takes a step back this year.

Against The Spread – 8-8 ATS record / 6 Overs, 10 Unders
· Last year the Lions went OVER the total only 6 times in 16 games. However from 2007 to 2015 they went OVER the total 82 times to just 61 UNDERS.
· The Lions have the 4th worst overall spread mark in the NFL since the 2003 season. They are just 100-120-7 ATS.
· Detroit is just 16-26-1 ATS coming off an outright win since September of 2011.
· Since 2003, the Lions have the worst spread record in the NFC North vs other division teams (34-46-4 ATS).

Chicago Bears – 2016 record (3-13) – 4th in the NFC North
· Off YPG – 356.5 (15th) – Def YPG – 346.8 (15th)
· Points scored 17.4 (28th) – Points allowed 24.9 (24th)

2017 Total Win Analysis

2017 ASA prediction – Play UNDER 5.5 Wins for the Chicago Bears

The 3-13 Bears actually had more yardage than their opponents last year which will surprise most. The problem is, they couldn’t score points. Their point differential of -120 was better than only the Jets, Browns, Niners, and Rams. Will the offense be better in 2017? We doubt it. They have improved their offensive line but the acquisition of QB Mike Glennon to be the starter won’t strike fear in any defensive coordinator. On top of that, if Glennon struggles, you can bet they probably throw #2 overall pick QB Mitchell Trubisky to the wolves which will most likely send everything downhill. They lost WR Alshon Jeffrey so their already subpar WR corps takes a big hit with that departure. We have them as a small favorite in just two games this year (home vs Cleveland & San Francisco) and it’s not out of the question this team could go into their bye week with an 0-8 record. They play Atlanta, @ Tampa, Pittsburgh, @ Green Bay, Minnesota, @ Baltimore, Carolina, and @ New Orleans over the first 8 weeks. They will be an underdog in each of those games. Can this team improve from last year? Sure. Will they improve a full 3 games? We don’t think so.

Against The Spread – 7-9 ATS record / 8 Overs, 8 Unders
· The Bears have covered only 40% of their home games since 2010 (23-34-1 ATS).
· Chicago is just 41-51-1 ATS overall as an underdog since the start of the 2007 season.
· The Bears have gone UNDER the total in 34 of their last 57 games vs AFC opponents. That’s 60% to the UNDER in those games.
· If you somehow catch the Bears as a road favorite, consider the OVER. They are 18-8 to the OVER in this situation going back to 2005.

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