The NFL does better than most leagues to create parity. Teams go through cycles more frequently than other leagues, accumulating draft stock, changing head coaches, and building successful franchises in less time than it takes other professional organizations. That means teams can go from bad to good much quicker than expected, even if you’re the Detroit Lions.
The Lions had a difficult season last year. Detroit ended the campaign tied for the fewest wins and allowed the second-most points. The NFC North also-rans won their final game against the Green Bay Packers, dropping them to the second overall selection in the draft. Nevertheless, the Lions loaded up on defensive stalwarts, strengthening one of their most significant weaknesses and potentially setting them up to surprise a few opponents.
Dan Campbell had a vision when he joined the Lions, and the team could see tremendous growth in his second season with the squad.
It’s easy to point to Detroit’s three wins and laugh about how bad they were, but the Lions were better than their record implied. Four of their 13 losses came by four or fewer points, and the team was a covering machine. The Lions ended the season on a 7-3 run against the spread, culminating in a money-making 11-6 record against the number.
Further, the Lions’ point differential lends itself to a team that should have more than three victories. Detroit’s offense put up a respectable 322.6 yards per game, with an effective rush offense ranked 18th in the league. Still, the Lions narrowly eclipsed 19.0 points per game, ranking them as the eighth-worst scoring offense. In reconciling output with production, the Lions were better than expected and are progression candidates heading into the 2022 season.
Detroit hemorrhaged yards last year, giving up 379.8 per game, including 135.1 on the ground. Rightly, the team went out and shored up the defensive side of the ball, expending six of their eight draft picks on defensive players, including two linemen and two linebackers, to bolster the front end.
The stars aligned just right for the Lions as the Jacksonville Jaguars passed on Michigan Wolverines standout Aidan Hutchinson, leaving the top-ranked prospect on many boards available for Detroit. Hutchinson is tailor-made for Campbell’s system and should thrive in his first pro season. He’ll be complemented on the defensive line by second-round pick Joshua Paschal, who concluded his collegiate career with 15.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks, landing him a spot on the All-SEC second-team. Third-round selection Kerby Joseph could also emerge as a starting option in the defensive backfield, injecting some much-needed talent into the Lions secondary.
All of that is overlooking one of the best moves in the draft, as General Manager Brad Holmes moved up to select wide receiver Jameson Williams. The Alabama Crimson Tide product was the top receiver heading into the draft and is an immediate asset to Jared Goff. Although he’ll need time to recover from the ACL tear he incurred in the National Championship Game, he could be the receiver to fill the void left by Calvin Johnson all those years ago.
BetMGM SportsBook Detroit Lions Win Total Insights
- Lions Win Total 6.5
- Most Bet OVER
Although the Lions’ win total is holding steady at 6.5, the price to back the OVER is on the move, reflecting sharp action. The OVER has dropped from +130 to -110, with 95% of the handle taking the Lions to win seven or more games. Moreover, the handle exceeds the 94% ticket count, so it’s not just small money wagers that like Detroit’s chances to exceed expectations.
This isn’t a rags-to-riches story, but the Lions will be more competitive than last season. Depending on how their draft picks develop, we could see them re-emerge as an NFC contender in years to come. For now, follow the sharp action and expect them to have a more successful campaign in 2022.