By: Faux John Madden (Special to OddsUSA.com)
Detroit Lions 2020 Team Preview
You may think that your favorite football team has moments of befuddling stupidity and glorious ineptitude, but the Detroit Lions have perfected their feats of futility over the last several decades.
Quite frankly, no one has been able to consistently leave their fan base this disappointed year in and year out (well aside from EA Sports anyway).
Since 1957 the Detroit Lions have won a total of one playoff game.
By comparison, the Michigan Panthers from the USFL, in existence for all of two seasons have two playoff wins including the 1983 USFL Championship.
The Lions are known for how they manage to completely drain the soul out of the elite talent that manages to have their careers come to die in the Motor City.
Barry Sanders and Calvin Johnson decided not playing was a much better option than suiting up one more day in the Lions HONOLULU Blue motif.
Rob Gronkowski was merely rumored to be heading there in a trade a few seasons ago, and that was enough for him to threaten to quit too.
Essentially, the Lions are too pathetic of an organization to even be considered tragic.
Currently the Lions find themselves in this awkward transitional phase where the team is trying to become “Patriots North” under the guide of former Belichick disciple Matt Patricia, however the Lions are like when Carlton Banks tried to be Chris Paul when you compare them to the Patriots.
We’re not saying Matt Patricia can’t turn the franchise around, but if they’re going to start having success like the Patriots, it might be a bad omen to have a coach that has a pencil behind his ear to write on a *checks notes* laminated play sheet.
Lions 2019 Season Review
With 3:38 left in the 2nd quarter of their season-opener against the Arizona Cardinals, the Lions took a 17-0 lead on the road and looked to be well on their way towards opening the season with an uncharacteristically road win.
One could even argue that the Lions 2019 season pretty much peaked at this moment.
After building the 17-point lead, the Lions would go on to be outscored 27-10 the rest of the way and the Lions would open 2019 with a 27-27 tie.
The Lions would go 3-12 the rest of the way, with Matthew Stafford missing the bulk of the season thanks to a back injury suffered from carrying this entire franchise since he was drafted.
(At least that’s the unofficial word I got from ProFootballDoc.)
Stafford’s injury seemingly bought Patricia and GM Bob Quinn one more year to try to turn this thing around, as the franchise decided to not make any personnel changes heading into the 2020 season.
But the 2019 season was miserable without him. The Lions would have 11 different quarterbacks on the roster at some point a year ago, with undrafted rookie third-stringer David Blough getting the start in five games.
Injuries also ravaged the Lions skill positions, with talented running back Kerryon Johnson and wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. each spending time on the teams IR list a year ago.
In typical Lions fashion, there was the Lions seemingly never-ending quest to find a George Kittle like tight end to add to the roster. After whiffing severely on Eric Ebron a few years ago, the Lions were back for more in 2019.
Despite glaring holes on the defensive side of the ball, the Lions would defy rationality as only they can and selected Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson with the 8th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
The Lions would also give Steelers free-agent TE Jesse James a four-year contract worth $22.6 million, and witnessed James put up 142 yards in 16 games.
Hockenson did show signs of brilliance, but for the 8th pick in the draft you would hope to get more than 367 yards and two touchdowns out of it.
For all their woes throughout the roster, Lions receiver Kenny Golladay offers the team a rare bright spot. Golladay was once again terrific, even with Stafford out of the lineup, as he led the NFL a season ago with 11 touchdown catches and posted his second-straight 1,000-yard season.
You Thought the Lions’ Offense Was Offensive, Well… the Defense…
Defensively, the Lions were nothing short of dreadful in 2019.
The Lions allowed an eye-popping 6,406 yards last season, narrowly missing the 2008 franchise record for most yards given up in a season.
The uh… 2008 Lions happened to go 0-16 by the way.
The Lions finished 26th in scoring defense, 29th in sacks and only had seven interceptions all season — good for dead last in the league.
Detroit would rip the wound open even further right before the trade deadline when it would trade standout safety Quandre Diggs to Seattle for the change under Pete Carroll’s recliner cushion, and after trading for, and giving a one-year extension to Damon Harrison in 2018, Harrison’s relationship with the Lions would quickly sour leading the team to letting him go following the end of the season.
Basically, if you want to know how the Lions 2019 season went, even when the team was doing good things and on their way to victory (like they were in a MNF showdown against Green Bay), the football gods could not let Detroit have any modicum of happiness.
2020 Detroit Lions Roster Recap
Poor Souls That Are So Desperate to Play Football They Signed in Detroit
CB Desmond Trufant (Falcons)
S Jayron Kearse (Vikings)
DT Danny Shelton (Patriots)
QB Chase Daniel (Bears)
DT Nick Williams (Bears)
LB Jamie Collins Sr. (Patriots)
RT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (Eagles)
CB Tony McRae (Bengals)
LB Reggie Ragland (Chiefs)
WR Geronimo Allison (Packers; COVID-19 opt-out)
Escaped the Lions Without Needing to Retire Like Barry
G Graham Glasgow (Broncos)
QB Jeff Driskel (Broncos)
RB J.D. McKissic (Washington)
DT A’Shawn Robinson (Rams)
TE Logan Thomas (Washington)
CB Rashaan Melvin (Jaguars)
P Sam Martin (Broncos)
DT Mike Daniels (Free Agent)
WR Jermaine Kearse (Free Agent)
Lions 2020 Offensive Preview
The Lions certainly have nowhere to go but up on both sides of the football, but their offense is a little further along than the defense as we head into the new season.
Most importantly for Detroit, they will be getting QB Matthew Stafford back from injury in 2020.
The best quarterback in team history (which may not say a great deal) returns to a Lions offense with some nice weapons around him. Kerryon Johnson will entire his third season with the Lions and hopes to have a healthy campaign after missing most of the 2019 season with a knee injury.
In the event Johnson can’t hold up, the Lions brought on some insurance by way of drafting Georgia standout runner D’Andre Swift and they also brought back Bo Scarbrough, who played well before also finishing the season on the injured list.
In the passing game, Stafford again figures to rely heavily on the aforementioned Kenny Golladay. He will also have the services of veterans Danny Amendola and Marvin Jones Jr.
At tight end, the Lions again hope 2019 1st round pick T.J. Hockenson can develop into an elite threat in the passing game, they’ll also hope Jesse James does anything to merit paying him the salary they are paying him.
The offensive line got a jolt when the team added right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai in free agency with a five-year, $50 million contract. Left tackle Taylor Decker is coming up on his contract season as well. The team also added a pair of run-blocking maulers in the draft to compete for spots on the offensive line with the selections of Jonah Jackson (Ohio State) and Logan Stenberg (Kentucky).
Realistically speaking though, the offense lives and dies with their quarterback. If Matthew Stafford has to miss time due to injury again, new backup Chase Daniel will likely not be enough to keep this ship afloat.
Detroit Lions 2020 Defensive Preview
The Lions knew they had to improve the tire-fire of a defense they were rostering, and used the 2020 offseason to try to make some upgrades.
With the Lions 3rd overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Matt Patricia selected Ohio State shutdown cornerback Jeffrey Okudah. The Lions also signed former Falcons top corner Desmond Trufant in free-agency, and traded the sensational Darius Slay to Philadelphia for draft compensation.
The Lions are particularly high on their retooled secondary, and believe they have a budding star in the making in safety Tracy Walker. To play alongside Walker, Patricia once again tapped into his carnal desire to make the Lions the Patriots by signing Pats cast-off Duron Harmon.
The Foxboro-to-Detroit pipeline continued with the additions of Danny Shelton and Jamie Collins Sr. In total, Patricia will have five former Patriots playing on the Lions defensive unit.
Detroit Lions Betting Outlook and Prediction
Is there ever really a reason to project happiness to come from a Detroit Lions season? Matthew Stafford’s career has essentially been ruined by this organization, much in the same manner they have ruined many other promising careers before his. Now the quarterback has an ungodly cap figure, preventing the team from full-on rebuilding until they can get in a place to find a new quarterback for the future.
While the team has some bright spots littered about the roster with Kenny Golladay, Kerryon Johnson and Jeff Okudah, this franchise needs a major overhaul from the top down.
Look for the Lions to once again do Lions things, and for Matt Patricia to probably be back on the job market before too long. But at least they’ll be in the thick of the Trevor Lawrence/Justin Fields race with another high draft pick heading into 2021.
Projected Lions 2020 Finish: 4-12, 4th Place NFC North
Lions 2020 Betting Preview
In regards to the Lions, we particularly like these futures:
- Detroit Lions to finish in 4th Place NFC North — (+115) at DraftKings Sportsbook
This is a trick right? We know Mitchell Trubisky is in this division still, but plus-money on the Lions to finish in last-place in this division could very well be an early Christmas present of sorts. Give me this any day of the week.
- Detroit Lions UNDER 6.5 wins — (+118) at DraftKings Sportsbook
The NFC North was very fortunate in that they drew the AFC and NFC South with their out-of-division games this season. We say this sarcastically, because now the Lions not only face six matchups against the Packers, Vikings and Bears, but they also get to square off against the likes of New Orleans, Tampa Bay, Tennessee, Houston and Indianapolis too! Finding 7 wins on this schedule is a daunting task, and you’re getting plus-money on this. We’re hammering the Lions under 6.5 win total out of mere principle.
- Jeff Okudah to win DROY — (+1600) at DraftKings Sportsbook
We love the value here on the 3rd overall pick of the 2020 NFL Draft to claim the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award. We’re not naïve and understand that Okudah’s college teammate Chase Young will get a lot of the attention in regards to this award, but Okudah is no slouch either. You have to figure that the Lions defense is going to see a lot of balls thrown at their secondary, giving Okudah a chance to produce the stats necessary to contend for this award. Additionally, two corners have brought home the award in the last five seasons, the last being fellow Buckeyes alum and current Saints CB Marshon Lattimore.
- D’Andre Swift to win OROY — (+1600) at DraftKings Sportsbook
If you’re a Lions fan you need something to root for right? Why not take a stab at one of the better rookie running backs in the 2020 NFL Draft to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award? There are a few names ahead of Swift on the board right now, namely Joe Burrow, Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Tua Tagovailoa, but running backs have won this award three out of the past five seasons. Like Okudah before him, the value on Swift alone is worth the play.