There’s a New Big Bad Wolf in the NFC North

David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 NFL regular season is seven months away, but it’s not too early for sportsbooks to peek ahead.

And when they do so involving the NFC North, it’s not the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, nor the Chicago Bears to fear — it’s the Detroit Lions.

There’s a New Big Bad Wolf in the NFC North

As early as now, the Lions are becoming the fashionable and gamblers’ pick to win the NFC North. Detroit finished 2022 quite marvelously, employs a lovable head coach, and is scrappy as hell.

New Big Bad Wolf
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Of course, Detroit will be forced to go out and perform as division-winning frontrunners, bringing a weight of expectation totally foreign to the franchise. The Lions usually possess a little engine that could persona — when they’re winning or losing. But perhaps that won’t faze them.

Oddschecker tweeted Monday early Super Bowl LVIII favorites for next year’s big game, and the Packers and Vikings play second and third fiddle to Detroit — if that can be believed.

  • +600: Chiefs
  • +900: Bills, Eagles, 49ers
  • +1000: Bengals
  • +1600: Cowboys
  • +2500: Chargers
  • +3300: Lions, Jaguars
  • +3500: Ravens, Packers, Jets
  • +4000: Rams, Dolphins
  • +4500: Browns
  • +5000: Broncos, Vikings, Giants
  • +6000: Patriots, Saints
  • +6600: Steelers
Vegas Flat-Out Believes Lions Are Better than Vikings
Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

Yes, that’s the Vikings living down there with the Denver Broncos, a team that finished 5-12 in 2022, maintaining a constant status as the butt of everyone’s jokes. The Vikings, on the other hand, ended the season with a 13-4 record — eight games better than Denver — but oddsmakers evidently believe Minnesota and Denver are 2023 bedfellows.

Whether the Lions have the stomach for an NFC North title is firmly to be determined. The club has excellent offensive and defensive trenches, decent weaponry in Jameson Williams, Jamaal Williams, and D’Andre Swift, and of course, Dan Campbell, who is newly revered by the masses.

Vikings Must Navigate Hot Lions to Clinch North
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Lions haven’t won the NFC North in 30 years, but if you ask them or the team’s fans, that has to change at some point, right? Detroit also hasn’t won a playoff game since the George Bush Sr. presidency, a naughty drought dating back to 1991. It would be difficult to script a three-decade-long outcome this sorrowful, but the Lions have somehow done it.

The Bears have the No. 1 overall pick in April’s draft and will probably flip it for a basket of draft assets. General manager Ryan Poles outwardly seems committed to Justin Fields as QB1, hell or high water. But Chicago is likely more than a year away from the playoff contendership.

Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports.

The Packers are trapped in Aaron Rodgers-fueled hell, unsure what the 39-year-old will do about his playing future in 2023. Rodgers is reportedly embarking on a ‘darkness isolation retreat’ where he sits in a dark house without music or distraction for four days, and “there are two slots where people drop the food in.” So, that’s what Green Bay is dealing with. If he doesn’t return in 2023, the Jordan Love era should be underway.

And then the Vikings hold the NFL’s 19th-best Super Bowl odds for next year as of February 13th. The NFL body politic doesn’t believe Kevin O’Connell’s team will win 13 games again and, quite frankly, thinks the Vikings will miss the postseason in 2023.

That leaves the upstart Lions standing tall. Now, all they have to do is effectuate the fancy projection.

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