One of the big winners of NFL free agency so far has been the Green Bay Packers, and it has little to do with re-signing Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones. Nope, it's more what the teams around them did as now Aaron Rodgers will get six combined games next season, barring injury, against in-division clubs quarterbacked by Andy Dalton (who signed with Chicago on Tuesday), Jared Goff and Kirk Cousins. The Packers are -270 favorites at William Hill Sportsbook to repeat in the NFC North Division.
Reading social media after the Bears inexplicably added the 33-year-old Dalton on Tuesday to a quarterback room already with 32-year-old Nick Foles, and it was quite hilarious the reaction from Bears fans (apoplexy) and Packers fans (giddy).
Dalton's salary ($10 million, plus incentives) surely puts him above Foles ($6 million) on the current depth chart. Dalton also spent three years in Cincinnati with Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. Who really loses here, too, is Bears receiver Allen Robinson, who was franchise tagged. He has spent his career catching passes from the likes of Blake Bortles, Foles and Mitchell Trubisky … and now Dalton.
This writer has never heard of a team's Super Bowl odds getting longer after adding a free-agent quarterback to replace an ineffective starter from the previous year (Trubisky and Foles), but Chicago's rose from +4000 to +5000 to win Super Bowl 56 with Dalton – clearly, oddsmakers now presume the Bears have stopped pursuing Russell Wilson. The Bears are +600 to win the NFC North. Seattle reportedly told the Bears that Wilson wasn't being dealt. Chicago now must take a QB with the No. 20 overall pick in the draft or trade up higher to get one. To make matters worse, the Bears lost out on Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, too, as he re-signed with the 49ers.
All free agent deals and trades can become official Wednesday, which means the Detroit Lions will acquire Goff and draft picks from the Rams for Matthew Stafford. That's another clear downgrade in the division at quarterback, plus Detroit said goodbye to star receiver Kenny Golladay – who should sign somewhere today. The Lions are +2800 to win the NFC North.
As for the Vikings' Cousins, he's a decent player but certainly not worth the $41 million cap hit he will carry in 2021 and simply can't beat the good teams. Cousins is 9-34 as a starter against teams with a winning record in his NFL career and 1-9 all-time on Monday nights. The lone MNF victory came against Foles and the Bears in Week 10 last year. Minnesota is +400 to win the division.
Green Bay most likely will be favored in all six NFC North games in 2021 – again, presuming no major injuries – and thus could have the inside track to get the conference's top seed the second year in a row. Below is the Pack's list of 2020 opponents with the 17th game not yet finalized. There are reports Green Bay will visit Kansas City in that one. Rodgers is a +700 second favorite at William Hill to repeat as NFL MVP.
Home: Chicago (8-8), Detroit (5-11), Minnesota (7-9), Washington (7-9), Los Angeles Rams (10-6), Seattle (12-4), Browns (11-5), Steelers (12-4).
Away: Chicago (8-8), Lions (5-11), Vikings (7-9), New Orleans (12-4), Arizona (8-8), San Francisco (6-10), Baltimore (11-5), Cincinnati (4-11-1).
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Will the Bears select a quarterback in the first round of 2021 NFL Draft?
- Yes -550
- No +450
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