Football picksAugust 7, 2009

NFL Picks Previews 2009: NFC North

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:

1. GREEN BAY
2. CHICAGO
3. MINNESOTA
4. DETROIT

COACHING CHANGES:
DETROIT: JIM SCHWARTZ

GREEN BAY
LAST SEASON: 6-10
DIRECTION: UP

The Packers’ defense really had problems at times a year ago, while the offense transitioned nicely with Rodgers at QB. The defense is looking for a healthier year, and hopes that two early defensive draft picks shore up a defense that allowed 130 yards per game on the ground. If the Packers patch the defensive holes, they are a contender.

BETTING THE PACKERS – WHEN THEY ARE BAD:
The Packers eat a lot of chalk. They 0-12 ATS as an 11-point favorite or more.

BETTING THE PACKERS – WHEN THEY ARE GOOD:
No Monday Night hangover for the Pack, as they are 21-10 ATS after playing on Monday Night. The Packers have been road warriors, turning in an impressive 16-8 ATS mark on the road over the last three years.

CHICAGO BEARS
LAST SEASON: 9-7
DIRECTION: STABLE/UP

The Bears finally have a bonafide QB in Jay Cutler. The excitement is such, that 6,000 fans showed up his first day on the field. The Bears offense finished 26th in the league a year ago, and that stands to change this season. If Cutler gets comfortable, the Bears could become a dangerous team.

BETTING THE BEARS – WHEN THEY ARE BAD:
The Bears have struggled on Monday Nights when they are in the role of a favorite as they are just 1-8 ATS.

BETTING THE BEARS – WHEN THEY ARE GOOD:
Taking to the road in December isn’t so kind to the Bears at 7-25 ATS last 32 games. The Bears are a perfect 5-0 ATS when they are posted as a double-digit dog.

MINNESOTA
LAST YEAR: 10-6
DIRECTION: DOWN

The Packers were a team riddled with the QB controversy. Now it is the Vikings, as Brett Favre has been in and out of the picture for two years now. He made a very late entrance into Vikings camp, choosing to string everyone along while avoiding two-a-days. While Favre is a big name, the truth is he’s 40 years old, has had very little time to work with the team, and hasn’t had a good year since 2007. His QB rating in the second half of last season was downright awful. So his arrival doesn’t change things much. Adrien Peterson gives them an automatic on the ground, and the defense is solid, despite the loss of Darren Sharper. Vikings surprise if Favre returns to his old winning ways, but without that, they will just have a good – not great – season.

BETTING THE VIKINGS – WHEN THEY ARE BAD:
The Vikings aren’t healthy as a 10+ point favorite, as they are 0-5 ATS in their last five in that role. They are also poor after a great defensive performance allowing 10 points as they have followed those defensive gems with a 1-7 ATS mark. Lots of gloss, but no finish as the Vikings season finale has no glisten, just 4-23 ATS last 27 years.

BETTING THE VIKINGS – WHEN THEY ARE GOOD:
The Vikings are brilliant as a home dog, turning in a 21-11 ATS mark since 1988.

DETROIT
LAST SEASON: 0-16
DIRECTION: UP

The Lions were just awful a year ago. Although there is no place to go but up, they are a long way from being competitve. They should find some wins this year while adjusting to new coach Jim Schartz.

BETTING THE LIONS – WHEN THEY ARE BAD:
The Lions have been awful against the AFC at just 10-17 ATS in their last 27. Thanksgiving Day Turkey integestion. The Lions just 1-6 ATS in their last 7 Turkey Day fiascos.

BETTING THE LIONS – WHEN THEY ARE GOOD:
The Lions are bad, but not when they are getting double-digits as they have turned in an impressive 11-2 ATS mark as a dog of 10 or more.

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