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NFL countdown: Sportsbooks expect Packers to regress

This is the 20th in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 10 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

The Green Bay Packers might have made the most surprising move of the NFL draft when they traded up to select quarterback Jordan Love in the first round.

Green Bay was 13-3 last season but had more pressing needs, such as taking a wide receiver in a star-studded draft at the position or a defensive lineman. Drafting a quarterback who might sit behind Aaron Rodgers for years didn’t seem to make sense.

The Packers’ second pick didn’t make much sense, either. They took running back A.J. Dillon when they already had Aaron Jones, who tied for the NFL lead in rushing touchdowns last season, and Jamal Williams.

Those picks came after the Packers’ defensive front seven was gashed for 285 yards rushing in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game.

“Obviously, coach Matt LaFleur wants to run the ball so the defense isn’t on the field as much,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito. “It’s strange to talk about a Green Bay offense that doesn’t run through Aaron Rodgers.”

The Green Bay draft left sportsbook directors shaking their heads, and they expect the Packers to regress. A 13-win team usually doesn’t have an over/under of nine the next season, but that’s where books have the Packers. And it’s being shaded toward the under at -135.

Westgate vice president of risk Ed Salmons said he leans toward the under but wouldn’t bet on it.

“There’s no value in betting on the under,” he said.

The NFC North has no clear-cut favorite, so the Packers should be in the mix with the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears, three teams Esposito sees as interchangeable.

Rodgers is familiar with the situation with Love. He was drafted in the first round in 2005 when Brett Favre was the Packers’ franchise quarterback.

“The psyche of Rodgers is the key,” Esposito said. “It wouldn’t stun me if he led the league in touchdown passes, and it wouldn’t stun me if he didn’t play great because of the situation.”

Contact Jason Orts at jorts@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2936. Follow @SportsWithOrts on Twitter

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