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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Packers may not have it all their own way

Division could be tight

Aaron Rodgers will start at QB for Green Bay
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Chicago Bears
Super Bowl odds 200-1
2016 record 3-13
Coach John Fox
QB Mike Glennon 
RB Jordan Howard
Major ins QB Mike Glennon, CB Prince Amukamara
Major outs WR Alshon Jeffery, CB Tracy Porter 
Top draft picks QB Mitchell Trubisky (1), TE Adam Shaheen (2)

Verdict It was a puzzling decision for the Bears to trade to take Mitchell Trubisky as the second overall pick in the draft when they had already signed Mike Glennon and it stinks of a franchise that doesn't really have a plan.

Glennon is no superstar in waiting but he will at least be playing behind a decent offensive line and has the support of running back Jordan Howard who impressed as a rookie last term.

Receiver Kevin White needs to step up after Alshon Jeffery's departure and they will need better luck with defensive injuries but their first four matches against Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and Green Bay could set the tone for a troubled campaign.

Other NFC divisions

NFC East

NFC South

NFC West

NFC divisional tips

Detroit Lions
Super Bowl odds 66-1
2016 record 9-7
Coach Jim Caldwell
QB Matthew Stafford 
RB Ameer Abdullah
Major ins OT Rick Wagner, CB DJ Hayden
Major outs WR Anquan Boldin, DE Devin Taylor 
Top draft picks LB Jarrad Davis (1), CB Teez Tabor (2)

Verdict Matthew Stafford is now the highest-paid player in the league and his value to the Lions was highlighted late last season when he struggled with a finger injury that ended their hopes in the playoffs.

Detroit have boosted their offensive line and while the receivers look a strength, they need to get more out of their running game, which means Ameer Abdullah will have to stay fit.

The defence made just 26 sacks last season with the linebackers contributing little, but if they can pick up then the Lions should be able to claim another winning season and challenge for the division.

Green Bay Packers
Super Bowl odds 10-1
2016 record 10-6
Coach Mike McCarthy
QB Aaron Rodgers 
RB Ty Montgomery
Major ins TE Martellus Bryant, G Jahri Evans
Major outs G TJ Lang, S Micah Hyde 
Top draft picks CB Kevin King (2), S Josh Jones (2)

Verdict The Packers' season looked over when they were 4-6 but Aaron Rodgers dragged them over the line before they fell to Atlanta in the NFC Championship game.

They will want to be more comfortable this time, but there are still questions to be answered. Their running-game issues have not been addressed with converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery leading the rush attack, which cannot be considered ideal.

Martellus Bennett is an upgrade on Jared Cook at tight end but they have lost two key blockers in TJ Lang and JC Tretter. The secondary needs to improve and the Packers will want linebacker Clay Matthews to rediscover some of his old form.

Minnesota Vikings
Super Bowl odds 40-1
2016 record 8-8
Coach Mike Zimmer
QB Sam Bradford 
RB Latavius Murray
Major ins OT Riley Reiff, RB Latavius Murray
Major outs RB Adrian Peterson, WR Cordarrelle Patterson 
Top draft picks RB Dalvin Cook (2), C Pat Elflein (2)

Verdict Adrian Peterson's departure gives the Vikings a different offensive focus, but at least they have not had to endure the turmoil of last summer when quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was injured on the eve of the season.

Sam Bradford did well in such circumstances and didn't have a great offensive line to play behind and there are couple of interesting additions in running back Latavius Murray and receiver Michael Floyd.

The defence is capable of stepping up if injury problems are avoided and they are aided by having just three away games before Week 10, one of which is against Cleveland in London.

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Their running game issues have not been addressed with converted wide receiver Ty Montgomery leading the rush attack, which cannot be considered ideal
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