Can a new era in Detroit produce new results?
Not much went right for the Detroit Lions in 2020. The season could be summed up by a NFL Week 12 loss to the Houston Texans. The embarrassing 41-25 setback at Ford Field resulted in the firing of head coach Matt Patricia. Under Patricia, the Lions won just 13 games in his two-plus years at the helm.
With interim coach Darrell Bevell, Detroit finished the season 1-4 to close out a disappointing 5-11 season — its third straight losing campaign.
Aside from hiring Dan Campbell as the new head coach, Detroit’s biggest offseason move came with its blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Rams that involved a quarterback swap — Matthew Stafford for Jared Goff.
Stafford played in all 16 games last season, and his 4,084 passing yards was his highest output since throwing for 4,446 in 2017. His 26 touchdowns were also his highest total since 2017.
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LA Connection in Detroit
Last season, Jared Goff and Anthony Lynn shared the same home stadium in Los Angeles. Goff the starting quarterback with the Rams and Lynn the head coach of the Chargers. Now the two share the same stadium again, but on the same team in Detroit. And the Lions are hoping it will be a happy marriage.
Goff, the former No. 1 selection in the 2016 draft, has a career passer rating of 91.5 and has nearly a 2:1 touchdown to interception ratio (107-55). Goff enters this season after a career-best completion percentage (61%) while throwing for 3,952 yards with 20 touchdowns.
Lynn is the Lions’ new offensive coordinator and hopes to help reshape Goff into an MVP-caliber quarterback.
The Lions are also hoping their new quarterback and offensive coordinator combo can rekindle the magic of 2018. Goff led the Rams to the Super Bowl (loss to New England) with a career-high in yards (4,688), touchdowns (32), and rating (101.1). Lynn guided the Chargers to a 12-4 record and also saw their season end at the hands of New England in the playoffs.
If Lynn can get that kind of production from Goff, the Lions should be in prime position to hit the 4.5 win total that has a money line total of -140.
Young Offensive Weapons on the Rise
D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson should be two young stars to watch out for on the Lions for years to come. Swift started his rookie season slow last season but finished with productive numbers. The talented running back out of Georgia racked up 878 yards of offense from scrimmage with 10 total touchdowns.
Hockenson made a name for himself by making the Pro Bowl last season. The second-year tight end caught 67 passes for 723 yards and found the end zone six times. Hockenson may have benefited from Kenny Golladay’s absence for most of the season but should be a favorite option for Goff this season.
Swift is a versatile back that can be explosive in a variety of ways and gives Lynn’s plenty of options within the offense.
With a win total of just 4.5, there’s not much pressure on the Lions this season. And the old adage of patience is a virtue will be tested early on. With games against San Francisco, Green Bay, and Baltimore in the first three weeks of the season, a NFL Week 4 matchup against NFC North rival Chicago may be the best bet for the first win of the season.
Green Bay is the odds on favorite to win the North at -150 odds according to Betonline.ag and has the fourth-best odds at winning the Super Bowl at +1100.
The Lions travel to Minnesota for another divisional game before returning to Ford Field in Week 6 against the Bengals.
Then comes maybe the most exciting game of the season for the Lions. In NFL Week 7, Detroit hits the road again, this time to face Stafford and the Rams in Los Angeles. Both Stafford and Goff will want to put on a show against their former mates.
The schedule makers pay no favors to Detroit later in the season either, as the team plays at Pittsburgh and Cleveland in back-to-back weeks in NFL Weeks 10 and 11.
Other tough contests include a Week 15 home matchup against Arizona and a NFL Week 17 road battle against Seattle.
Week 1 Odds
According to Bovada — another top sportsbook for Online Betting Sports — San Francisco opens as a 7.5-point favorite. Detroit has -115 odds to cover the spread and are at +310 to pull off the upset on the Money Line. Odds on San Fran to cover are set at -105 and you would have to put down $420 to win $100 on taking the 49ers on the ML (+420).
The over/under for the contest is set at 46.
The Lions simply do not have enough firepower on offense and are not solid enough on defense to get the job done this season. Even if Goff puts up MVP-type numbers, picking up more than a handful of wins with this schedule is going to be an arduous task for the Lions. Take the under of wins at 4.5 with plus-money adds at +110.
2021-22 Regular Season Prediction: 4-14, 4th in NFC North.