Is This the Season the Lions Get Back on Track for a Playoff Berth?
What do people like more than “Free Beer and Hot Wings”?
Well, probably nothing.
But the NFL is close, and we are about two weeks away from its return.
The opening Thursday night contest will see two teams that battled in an epic AFC Divisional Round contest in January, with the defending Super Bowl LIV champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans. In that playoff game, Houston ran out to a 21-point first quarter lead, and a 24-0 lead in the second quarter, only to find itself trailing at halftime. Kansas City outscored the Texans 51-7 over the final 40 minutes to set the tone for its eventual championship, while Houston had to ponder what the hell went wrong.
Double digit wins and a playoff berth were about the furthest thing from the minds of most Detroit Lions’ fans, after their team went 3-12-1 in 2019 to finish with the third worst record in the NFL. But every cloud has a silver lining, and the Lions got a chance to pick third in the 2020 NFL Draft.
They took CB Jeff Okudah with that pick, and also added to the defense throughout the rest of the draft, and used free agency to hopefully completely overhaul the defense. That unit struggled mightily in 2019, but could prove to be the thing that turns around this franchise in 2020, if there is a turn for the better.
With online betting coming very shortly to Michigan, there could be the opportunity to bet on the Lions this season. Detroit opens at home against the Chicago Bears on Sunday, September 13 at 1 p.m. EDT as slight -1.5 favorites with most sportsbooks to get the campaign started with a victory.
Remember, last year, the Lions started off 2-0-1, then lost 12 of 13 over the rest of the season, including nine in a row to end the year. This year sees Detroit head out on the road four times in five games after opening day. Although the Lions face what looks to be the fifth toughest schedule based on last season’s records, this team could be much improved if the defense improves.
The over/under win total is not set very high, at 6.5 with BetMGM, and even a three-win improvement would not be enough to hit the over. But the NFC North is not the same division it has been in the last few years. Both Chicago and Minnesota took steps backwards, and this division is one of two in the NFL which has seen three different teams win it over the last three seasons.
Detroit is the overwhelming favorite with BetMGM to finish fourth in the division at -115, but the Lions also have basically the same odds (+280) as two other teams to finish third. Detroit is +600 to make it four different NFC North winners in four years, and while that might sound crazy, this division has been just that over the years.
Is Matthew Stafford going to stay healthy?
Can Matt Patricia’s defense finally turn the corner and give fans some hope that this team is moving in the right direction?
Those will be the factors that determine whether the Lions are a five-to-six-win team, or they are battling for a playoff spot and a .500 record.
One thing is for certain: Detroit fans are starving for a first playoff appearance since 2016, and a first playoff win (and only one in six decades) since 1991.