How To Bet NFC North Futures Based on Odds Packers Trade Aaron Rodgers
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Aaron Rodgers, Khalil Mack
Action’s Director of Predictive Analytics, Sean Koerner, simulated the 2021 NFL season 10,000 times to project win totals and playoff odds for every NFC North team in order to identify early value on their futures.
The kicker? With rumblings about an Aaron Rodgers trade, Koerner has factored that possibility into these early simulations.
2021 NFC North Projections
|Green Bay Packers||50.1%||26.0%||17.1%||6.8%|
Bears Win Total Projections
|Make vs. Miss Playoffs||28.8% vs. 71.2%|
The Rodgers situation makes the NFC North a very tricky division to handicap right now. However, you could argue that the Bears were the first team to benefit from the uncertainty.
ESPN broke the news that Rodgers wanted out of Green Bay just hours before the 2021 NFL Draft. Considering that the Broncos would be the team most likely to land Rodgers, it wasn’t surprising to see them pass on Justin Fields with the ninth pick, which allowed the Bears to trade up and take Fields at 11th overall.
Fields is a raw prospect who may need some time to develop before starting in the NFL. However, he fits the mold of Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray and Dak Prescott. Their dual-threat ability and raw talent allowed them to mask some of their weaknesses entering the league. Therefore, I’m projecting Fields to start sometime around Week 4.
As for the defense, the Bears made a questionable move in cutting cornerback Kyle Fuller to clear some cap space, but they should still have an above-average unit again this season.
The NFC North will become one of the easiest divisions if Rodgers is traded away, so in the meantime, I’m leaning toward the over on their 7.5-win total.
Lean: Over 7.5 (+103) at DraftKings
Lions Win Total Projections
|Make vs. Miss Playoffs||97.3% vs. 2.7%|
No matter what happens with Rodgers, the Lions will be in contention for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. They are in a full-on rebuild mode as they accumulate draft capital and set their sights on 2022 and beyond.
Jared Goff has been inconsistent over his five-year career. He benefited from playing in Sean McVay’s system and likely needs talented players around him to succeed. Well, the Lions arguably have the worst wide receiver depth chart in the league with Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman and Amon-Ra St. Brown slated to be Week 1 starters.
Depending on which QB metric you prefer, Goff played like a below-average QB last year:
- IQR: 22th
- DVOA: 22th
- ANY/A: 22th
- PPA/play: 21st
The Lions’ defense finished dead last in Football Outsiders’ DVOA a year ago and remain below-average in 2021, and it’s unlikely that Goff will elevate the offense enough to overcome poor defensive play and win six games.
If Rodgers ends up staying in Green Bay, the Lions will have the toughest schedule in the NFL. I’m leaning towards their under here.
Lean: Under 5 (-110) at PointsBet
Packers Win Total Projections
|Make vs. Miss Playoffs||64.5% vs. 35.5%|
All eyes are on the Rodgers saga right now. So, naturally, how that unfolds will have a ripple effect in the futures market. As I detailed in my AFC West preview, though, I’m not interested in trying to beat the market to predicting whether he will be traded — only handicapping the possibility of it happening, and for now, I’ve projected a 70% chance that he says in Green Bay.
Based on that 70/30 split, the market that offers the most value right now is Green Bay to finish dead last in the NFC North at 35-1 (BetMGM). Based on my simulation, a fair price for this market would be closer to 15-1.
The obvious path to this prop hitting would be the Packers trading away Rodgers for draft capital in 2022 and beyond, thus heading into 2021 with Jordan Love as their starting quarterback. In that scenario, the NFC North would be a toss-up between the Packers, Vikings and Bears, with the Lions heavy favorites to finish fourth. However, the Packers’ odds to finish fourth would likely drop to the +500 to +700 range, making this a fantastic prop to bet if you think Rodgers has any less than a 70% chance to stay in Green Bay.
Pick: Finish 4th in NFC North (+3500) at BetMGM
Vikings Win Total Projections
|Make vs. Miss Playoffs||53.7% vs. 46.3%|
The Vikings offense ranked eighth in DVOA last year and should be able to post top-10 numbers again with Kirk Cousins, Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen and Irv Smith Jr. However, it was their defense that was an issue last season, ranking 26th in DVOA.
We can chalk up some of their poor defensive performance to bad injury luck considering they had the third-worst injury luck according to FO’s AGL metric. Otherwise, I expect head coach Mike Zimmer to get his unit to return to at least league-average in 2021.
I’m bullish on the Vikings this season and show value in them going over 9 wins as well as to win the NFC North at +260. As with all NFC North bets, Rodgers will impact these prices significantly once we get clarity as to which team he’ll play for in 2021. If you think Rodgers has less than a 70% chance of staying in Green Bay, I would lock in these Vikings’ futures ASAP.
Picks: Over 9 (+110) at DraftKings; Win division (+325) at BetMGM
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