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It was all going so well for the Lions halfway through the season last year. Then they must have remembered they were the Lions. Through nine games last season Detroit was 6-3, but they would go on to win only once in their remaining seven games to finish 7-9 and miss the playoffs.

Making matters worse for the Lions, out of those six losses only one came against a team that would make the playoffs. The Lions' failure cost head coach Jim Schwartz his job and he was replaced with Jim Caldwell. The changing of the guard also saw Joe Lombardi take over as offensive coordinator and Teryl Austin as Defensive coordinator.

Detroit Lions Odds to Win NFC North: +400 at Bovada
Detroit Lions Odds to Win Super Bowl: 33/1 at Bovada
Detroit Lions Regular Season Win Total: 8.5 at Bovada
Detroit Lions Betting Props: Calvin Johnson to Win NFL MVP 25/1 at Bovada

Lombardi’s main task should be to get more consistency out of QB Matt Stafford. Stafford passed for 4650 yards with 29 touchdowns last season, but in Detroit’s seven-game swoon to end the season he had 10 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.

The Lions' passing game last season was all Calvin Johnson. In just 14 games Megatron had 1492 yards and 12 touchdowns. Second on the Lions was running back Joique Bell will only 547 yards. Detroit signed Golden Tate in the offseason to supply Johnson with some support. They also drafted tight end Eric Ebron, who is athletic enough to make an impact right away.

We already mentioned Bell, who is expected to get more work this year in a slight shift away from Reggie Bush. Bush did have 1000 yards rushing last season, but he also spent the late parts of some games on the bench due to fumbles and poor ball handling.

The Lions' defense will utilize many of the same players this season, but with Austin taking over the coordinating duties it will show some different looks, transitioning more to a 4-3/3-4 hybrid than the straight 4-3 of the past. The strength of the defense should continue to be the defensive line led by Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. Ziggy Ansah is coming off a strong rookie campaign and could add even more clout to the pass rush if he continues to improve. The Detroit secondary remains a problem with inconsistent cornerback play dogging them last year. With no substantial upgrade made to the position in the offseason this will likely continue.

The Lions have long been a bettor’s worst enemy and last season was no different. The Lions were a lame 6-10 ATS last season, which included a 3-5 ATS record at home and a 6-8 mark as a favorite.

NFC North Odds at Bovada as of August 5

Green Bay Packers -110
Chicago Bears +250
Detroit Lions +400
Minnesota Vikings +1000

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The Detroit Lions came into last season with high hopes after a great season in 2011, but those hopes would quickly be turned to disappointment as the team finished 4-12 SU and 5-10-1 ATS. Can Detroit bounce back this season, or was 2011 just a fluke year for the long-suffering franchise?

Odds to Win NFC North: +500 at Bovada
Regular Season Win Total: 8 at Bovada
Betting Props: Calvin Johnson to win NFL MVP (20/1) at Bovada

With a 4-4 SU and 3-4-1 ATS record through the first half of the season, it still looked like Detroit had enough time to get things turned around and make a late push for a playoff spot. Instead, the Lions finished the season with eight straight losses, going just 2-6 ATS over that span.

Detroit’s offense racked up a ton of yards as the team finished with 408.8 total yards per game, second only to New England and New Orleans. Matt Stafford had 4,967 passing yards and WR Calvin Johnson set the all-time NFL single-season record for receiving yards with 1,964. But remarkably, the duo only hooked up for five touchdown passes, with Stafford finishing with only 20 overall. The Lions couldn’t finish drives with touchdowns, averaging just 23.3 points per game to finish right below league average. Detroit hopes that the addition of pass-catching RB Reggie Bush will add some versatility to the offense to help the team convert on more drives.

While finishing around league average in both rushing and passing yardage defense, the Lions ranked 27th in points surrendered allowing 27.3 points per game. Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh have the physical potential to be the best defensive tackle duo in the game, but they’ll both need to stay healthy and cut back on mental mistakes (such as taking untimely penalties to keep drives alive) to help Detroit get back on track.

The disproportional amount of yards to points on both offense and defense going against Detroit points to an unlucky season in 2012. But there are also concerns about the team’s leadership and character. The talent is here to compete for a playoff spot, but we’ll see what the team is really made of this season.

NFC North Odds at Bovada as of August 4
Green Bay Packers -160
Chicago Bears +350
Detroit Lions +500
Minnesota Vikings +600