Is there any chance that the Packers don't win a fifth straight NFC North title this coming NFL season? I suppose if QB Aaron Rodgers were to get hurt. Otherwise? Here are potential 2015 traps for each NFC North team (and early opponent game odds).
Green Bay Packers (-300 on BetOnline to win NFC North)
Week 3 vs. Chiefs (+5.5): This is a Monday night game, but I'm still not sure that's enough to get Green Bay 100 percent focused. After all, this comes after a Week 1 rivalry game at Chicago. Perhaps more important, in Week 2 the Packers host the Seattle Seahawks in probably the one game the entire team has circled on the 16-game schedule. You know Rodgers and Co. want payback for the NFC Championship Game loss, which the Pack should have won. In addition, that Seahawks game, even so early, could have potential home-field tiebreaker advantage down the line. So yeah Chiefs, a team the Packers rarely play, are likely to be overlooked.
Week 9 at Panthers (+2): Sure, Carolina is a solid enough team and could win the NFC South again. But it comes after Green Bay's Week 8 trip to Denver in a potential Super Bowl preview. Final meeting ever between Rodgers and Peyton Manning? Also, a big home division game against Detroit follows the Carolina Panthers in Week 10.
Week 15 at Raiders (+7): This follows another playoff rematch as Dallas visits Lambeau Field in Week 14 -- and you know the Dallas Cowboys are going to be going all out to get some payback for what happened in last season's divisional round. The Oakland Raiders probably only have two wins or so by this point in the season so easy for Pack to sleepwalk.
Detroit Lions (+550)
Week 5 vs. Cardinals (+1.5): The Lions have one of the toughest four-game stretches to open the season you will see: at San Diego, at Minnesota, home to Denver and at Seattle on Monday night in Week 4. So how much will the Lions have left in the tank for the Arizona Cardinals? Plus, as NFL odds makers know, the Seahawks usually leave teams feeling spent by themselves.
Week 8 at Chiefs (+1): Here's an out-of-conference game against an unfamiliar opponent that follows division home games against Chicago and Minnesota for Detroit. It's also ahead of the bye week, and this late in the season the Lions players might be very much desiring that week off.
Week 11 vs. Raiders (+8.5): This is clearly the top trap game on the schedule. It follows a huge one at Green Bay in Week 10 -- win that and Detroit might be in the driver's seat for the division. Then the Lions have a short turnaround in Week 12 as they host Philadelphia, which could have playoff implications, on Thanksgiving. The Lions' worst game last season? Sunday before their Thanksgiving game, a blowout vs. New England.
Minnesota Vikings (+700)
Week 3 vs. Chargers (pick'em): Sure, San Diego is a good team. But in Week 2, the Vikings open NFC North play with a chance to prove they are legitimate contenders when they host the Lions. And in Week 4, Minnesota goes to Denver. Teams do get fired up to face Manning.
Week 10 at Raiders (+1.5): Yep, Oakland again. This is sandwiched between home games for the Vikings. In Week 9, Minnesota hosts the Rams, which I believe could fight for a wild card with the Vikings. And in Week 11, the Vikings have their most important home game of the season vs. Green Bay.
Week 16 vs. Giants (+1.5): Obviously a lot depends on where Minnesota is in the standings this late in the season. But this might be worrisome as a Vikings backer because it's in between a Week 15 home game vs. the Bears and Week 17 at the Packers. Oh, it might also be the final game ever at the University of Minnesota for the Vikings. Think it might be cold outdoors this time of year?
Chicago Bears (+1400)
Week 2 vs. Cardinals (-1): Are the Bears good enough to overlook any team this season? Probably not but here are at least some possibilities. I think there's a potential for a flat effort here because the Bears will be so jacked up to host the Packers in Week 1 and start the John Fox Era. Plus a murderous trip to Seattle is in Week 3.
Week 13 vs. 49ers (-1): This follows a Week 11 home game vs. Manning's Denver Broncos but, more importantly, a Thanksgiving night game at Green Bay when the Pack are going to honor former Bear-killer Brett Favre. I'd bet the house on the Niners here if Chicago somehow won that Packers game.
Week 16 at Buccaneers (+1.5): This is sandwiched between division games for the Bears as they are in Minnesota in Week 15 and home to Detroit in Week 17. If the Bears are out of playoff contention here, the players aren't going to care about facing a bad Bucs team on the road.