The Chicago Bears have an exciting rookie quarterback in Justin Fields, but he will not open the season as the starter. Probably a good thing because the Bears’ offensive line is a mess. Here’s a look around the NFC North with NFL odds to win.
NFC North with NFL odds 2021
Green Bay Packers (-150)
It has been an up-and-down camp for rookie cornerback Eric Stokes. Playing time won’t be handed to Stokes in Green Bay, not with All-Pro Jaire Alexander on one side and veteran Kevin King back after an injury-plagued, disappointing 2020 season. However, King is very injury prone so Stokes will likely be starting sooner rather than later. He has been thrown directly into the fire against star WR Davante Adams, and while Adams has mostly emerged victorious — and unscathed — from their one-on-one battles, Stokes’ improvements have been well-documented by the day. “He’s the closest thing to Jaire (Alexander) as far as mentality and ability, from what I’ve seen so far,” said Adams. “The kid is fast as hell. He can get beat and recover kind of like how Sam Shields would do.”
Minnesota Vikings (+250)
The Vikings appear to have settled on their starting kicker in Greg Joseph after Riley Patterson was waived/injured this week. Patterson was undrafted out of Memphis. Joseph entered NFL as a rookie free agent with Miami in 2018. He never kicked for the Dolphins that year but set Browns rookie records in 2018 for points (76) and FGs (17), playing in 14 games. Hit an OT game-winner vs. Baltimore (10/7/18) in his 3rd career game. However, he wasn’t kept and only kicked in two games for the Titans and none in the regular season since. Joseph spent 2020 on the Bucs’ practice squad. Joseph went 2-for-2 on field goals in Minnesota’s preseason opener. For now, he’s the only kicker on the roster so barring injury or completely imploding, the job is his.
Chicago Bears (+450)
In a surprise earlier this offseason, the cut veteran left tackle Charles Leno Jr., ending the tenure of one of the league’s most underrated tackles. Leno had a solid 74.6 PFF grade (out of 100) last season over 1,066 snaps. He’s also been reliable, appearing in 16 games in each campaign since the 2015 season, his second in the league. The Bears did it because they thought rookie second-round pick Teven Jenkins could slide right in. Oops! Jenkins had back surgery this week and it’s a long shot that he will play at all in 2021. Jenkins had missed every practice at training camp. The Bears traded their second-round pick as well as their third- and sixth-round selections to the Carolina Panthers while also receiving a fifth-round pick in order to move up to No. 39 overall and select Jenkins, who played both left and right tackle at Oklahoma State. The Bears have been in scramble mode on the offensive line for weeks, as fellow projected starters James Daniels and Germain Ifedi have also been out with injuries.
Detroit Lions (+2000)
The Lions are concerned that second-year running back D’Andre Swift can’t stay healthy. After looking like he was headed for a primary role on offense, he has since been limited, at best, at practice. Since the pads have come on, Swift has barely participated in any team drills. Swift, a second-round pick in last year’s draft, is coming off a strong rookie season where he led the Lions with 878 yards from scrimmage. But he also battled a few injuries in 2020. Jamaal Williams has started in his place so far in camp/preseason, while rookie Jermar Jefferson has operated as the top reserve. The talk around Swift has changed since the Lions signed Williams in March. Before then, offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn referred to him as a “three-down back” while running backs coach Duce Staley suggested as many as “25 touches” could go Swift’s way.
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