The Detroit Lions were exciting to watch last season with a ridiculous 13 of their 17 games (including the playoffs) being decided by seven or fewer points. On top of that, the cardiac Lions went 5-2 in games decided by three points or less.
Now, that is all well and good from a television ratings perspective but it didn’t ultimately mean that much for the Lions in 2017. You can’t expect a team to continuously win close contests like that regularly. Eventually, the law of averages will catch up and the losses will start flowing.
Matthew Stafford looked phenomenal and comfortable in his second season under the watchful eye of Jim Bob Cooter before injuries sapped his effectiveness. That was despite having virtually no running game and an offensive line that had glaring holes. Adding Rick Wagner and T.J. Lang to help solidify the line was good decision-making by the Lions brass but the running back position is still largely unreliable.
For every exciting, highlight-reel play Stafford orchestrated on offense, the Lions defense gave up at least one terrible play. The secondary allowed 33 passing touchdowns to just 10 interceptions while opposing quarterbacks posted an absurd 106.5 QB rating. The complete lack of a pass rush certainly didn’t help but the Lions will be hoping that a healthy Ziggy Ansah can help rush the passer and give the secondary some help.
Let’s take a closer look at the Lions futures heading into the 2017 NFL season:
Super Bowl: +6600
I don’t think I need to say that it would be quite a shock if the Lions somehow ended up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The team has not won a playoff game in over two decades and the defense is paper-thin. You can believe in Stafford and the offense all you want but it’s become clear that this team is not going anywhere without massive defensive improvements.
NFC North: +600
The Detroit Lions have never won the NFC North. The last time they won their division came in 1993 when it was still the NFC Central. To put that into perspective, Jurassic Park was crushing it at the box office, I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston was burning up the billboard charts and Matthew Stafford was five years old.
The Green Bay Packers still rule over that division and the Minnesota Vikings are a legit wild-card threat. The Chicago Bears are a non-factor, but that doesn’t really make the Lions’ path any easier. Maybe don’t bank a lot of money on the Lions winning their third division crown in over three decades.
Win Total: 8.0
The Lions have not posted back-to-back winning seasons since 1995 – you can thank Barry Sanders for that. Considering the Lions went 9-7 last season, you would be right to pause before taking the OVER.
However, the Lions also have a fairly easy schedule, all things considered. They only play five games against teams that made the playoffs last season, but three of those come on the road and one of the home affairs is against the Green Bay Packers. Detroit had one of the easiest strength of schedules in the NFL entering the 2016 campaign as well but ultimately went 9-7.
This is undoubtedly one of the hardest win totals in the NFL for me to predict. Gun to my head, I would say the Lions squeak out nine wins and go OVER.
Ziggy Ansah To Win Defensive Player Of The Year: +6600
In all honesty, there is not much for Lions backers to sink their teeth into in terms of props. Outside of Stafford leading the NFL in passing yards, passing touchdowns or interceptions – none of which I would be very confident backing – we look at a more boom-or-bust pick.
Sacks will never go out of style in the NFL. That means that Ansah will always have a place pinning his ears back and going after the quarterback. Keep in mind, just two seasons ago, he finished third in the NFL in sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl. The guy is one of the best pure pass rushers in the NFL and his presence alone makes the Lions defense much better.
However, Ansah sucked last season. No two ways about that. He played 13 games and mustered up just 2.5 sacks. But he was also hampered by an ankle injury that greatly reduced his effectiveness. If he comes back at 100 percent, expect him to be back to his old destructive ways.
Odds as of August 28 at [custom:bodog-link]
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