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The Battle For The NFC North

Both the top two teams in the NFC North got a bye this week, which gives up plenty of time to analysis each team. Neither the Minnesota Vikings or the Chicago Bears look like they have it in them to legitimately compete. That leaves us with the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions.

The Lions currently sit atop the division with a 6-2 record. The Packers fell to 5-3 on Sunday evening after a blowout loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Packers, though, sit atop the NFC North odds, with the best future odds to win the North with a moneyline of -140. The Lions moneyline is set at +120.

The Packers have the second best odds in the NFL to win the NFC and go on to the Super Bowl with 9/2 odds. Ahead of them is the Seattle Seahawks with 4/1 odds. The Lions are No. 8 on that list with 11/1 odds. In other words, the linemakers like the Green Bay Packers.

The Lions have been trying to cope with a laundry list of injuries. A quick scroll through any Detroit-based newspaper headlines will see most of them pertain to injured players. Still the Lions keep finding ways to win, but there opponents have not exactly been top notch. That will change around Week 11 when they have to battle the Arizona Cardinals and the New England Patriots, a tough mid-late season gauntlet. That will be their true test.

The Lions have struggled in the first half of ball games. They only scored three points combined in the first half of play against the Atlanta Falcons and Saints, while allowing 31. Playing from behind to get comeback wins is not a sustainable model of success. While the ability to rally is important, it is only a matter of time before they run into a team that stops them in their tracks for the entire game.

The Lions will use the bye week to get healthier and allow player to recover from injury this will improve their game. The fact that the Lions have had so many players out with injury and still have a 6-2 record says more about this team than people give them credit for.

Meanwhile, the Packers have some serious self reflection to do, as they were again exposed as a team that may not be quite as good as we all think they are against the Saints on Sunday.

The Packers defense struggles against the pass particularly the linebackers. However, remedying this situation is not going to be easy, as the Packers have been swapping players around in those positions all season. Someone is going to have to step up for this team if they are going to be legit contenders.

At the end of the day, the Packers are big favorites to win the division for one reason only, Aaron Rodgers gets the job done when he needs to and this has lifted them to big wins before, despite not being the better team.

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