One Vikings Enemy Left but Another Emerges

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When Aaron Rodgers left the NFC North — an unknown eventuality until Monday — it was the Minnesota Vikings who thought the division would become theirs after a finally exhale.

Rodgers was officially traded to the New York Jets to start draft week, concluding about three months of strange foreplay. The Jets will receive Aaron Rodgers, this year’s 15th overall pick, and a 2023 5th-Rounder. The Packers get the No. 13 selection Thursday night, a 2023 2nd-Rounder pick, a 6th-Round pick, and a conditional 2024 2nd-Rounder pick will change to a 1st-Rounder if Rodgers plays 65 percent of all offensive snaps this season.

One Vikings Enemy Left but Another Emerges

And that’s that — it’s over. Rodgers is a Jet and, more importantly, out of the Vikings life for good. Most Vikings fans waited 15 years for this moment, poised to pounce with the future Hall of Famer exiting stage left.

But that’s not necessarily the case.

Enemy Left but
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) reacts after an interception was nullified by a Detroit Lions penalty during the third quarter Sunday, January 8, 2023 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. © MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Detroit Lions are the darling to win the NFC in Rodgers’ exit aftermath if that can be believed. Folks are in a holding pattern to determine whether Rodgers’ successor, Jordan Love, is any good. The Chicago Bears still have rebuilding on the brain. Minnesota won 13 games last year, but nobody cares. That all leaves the Lions on top of the hill.

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Never mind last week’s bizarre gambling scandal that rocked the Lions. Dan Campbell and the boys are favored by oddsmakers to take over the NFC North while Rodgers galavants in the Big Apple. These are the pre-draft odds to take the North:

  • Lions (+140)
  • Vikings (+250)
  • Bears (+350)
  • Packers (+475)

One central reason the Lions are total 2023 sweeties with five months to go before the 2023 regular season is how they finished 2022. Campbell’s men upended the Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 18 when all Green Bay needed was a win to advance into the postseason. Take care of business and you’re in — were the Packers stakes, and Rogders’ team choked. On the other hand, Detroit was eliminated before the tryst, leaving pride as the only motivational source.

The Lions expelled the Packers one week before the playoffs, nationwide focus was all over the game, and two months later, Detroit added a nifty free-agent class. Detroit also owns the draft’s 6th, 18th, 48th, and 55th picks during the draft.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

For the Vikings, it was somewhat predictable that Green Bay’s outlook would dampen when Rodgers left. That’s happening, evidenced by the basement odds from sportsbooks. But Detroit wasn’t supposed to shine like this, at least not in the immediacy of Rodgers’ exit.

It’s now up to the Lions to perform in September with the weight of expectations for the first time in forever. They’ll tell themselves they still own little-engine-that-could underdog vibes, but Vegas isn’t buying it.

The Vikings and Lions essentially switched jobs, per how most folks believed the division would look when Rodgers left. Detroit would look upward at what the Vikings were doing and presumably target Minnesota during life after Rodgers.

But so far this offseason, it’s the other way around.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by