The Detroit Lions are heading toward a critical season on the field, and are beginning to see how they stack up in the minds of experts.
Not everyone has Detroit sky high in the rankings, but several admit to liking the direction the team is trending at this point in the offseason when things get started on the regular season in a few months time. Even though NBC Sports analyst Peter King doesn’t have the Lions ranked high in his power rankings at 26th, he does see potential for some large things in 2020.
As King explains, it’s a big season for many with the team and while Matthew Stafford hasn’t accomplished much at this point in his career, the Lions will have a powerful offense. What happens this season from there will be determined by the defense.
“But what will it mean? Detroit basically treaded water in the offseason, trading ace cornerback Darius Slay to Philadelphia and using the third pick in the draft on his replacement, Ohio State cornerback Jeff Okudah. He’ll play opposite new cornerback Desmond Trufant, who comes from Atlanta after a disappointing end there. Patricia’s D needs to show progress after allowing a gaudy 24.5 points a game in his first two years, not the kind of performance the Lions expected when they hired the Belichick disciple two years ago. He’ll need strong performances from a couple of former Patriots who just arrived this year—instinctive safety Duron Harmon and roving linebacker Jamie Collins. I won’t be shocked if Detroit contends, because the Lions will score. The big question is the D.”
Many think the Lions actually improved their defense this offseason, even as others see the team basically doing nothing more than treading water. Either way, King is right. If Detroit’s defense steps up and has a big year, the team could stand to benefit by doing more winning than many would expect on the field.
Lions Pegged NFL Sleeper Team For 2020
Recently, Shaun O’Hara of the NFL Network was asked to name the sleeper team he thinks is going to make a push in 2020 and go from last to first place. As he said, the answer is the Lions.
As O’Hara explained, the Lions have quietly been building something good and it could be time for it to take off.
“When you look at what Matt Patricia has been building the last few years, year 3, it’s go time now. You planted a lot of seeds, now it’s time for them to rise up,” he said. “This offseason it’s been a pipeline. Every former New England Patriot he could get he swallowed up. He’s bringing in some veteran leaders, some quality players. Offensively, you get D’Andre Swift in the second round of this draft. I love the way he runs the football. Physical, aggressive runner I love his running style.”
O’Hara went on to say that Swift will come in motivated after dropping in the draft, and that’s dangerous for the rest of the league. He also liked the team’s addition of Jeff Okudah at cornerback, and said as a result
“I think this Detroit Lions team is going to be awake and I think they are going to stay woke because of the way Matt Patricia is building this team,” O’Hara concluded.
After a dismal first few seasons under Patricia, the hope is that O’Hara is right. Clearly, though, he isn’t as down on the Lions as many others in his profession might be at this point in time.
Lions Predicted to go Worst to First During 2020
Pro Football Focus recently took a look at predicting which teams could make the leap from worst to first during the 2020 NFL season. The Lions came up as one such team, and it was due to the possibility of them to have a solid offseason as well as benefit from their schedule.
“If there’s a team that’s gonna go from the bottom to the top, maybe it’s a team that has a decent situation and also a lot of draft capitol,” the analysts say to start the video.
Who is such a team? The answer was a quick one, and it was the Lions.
“It’s Detroit,” it was said. “Detroit’s a team, you look at the 49ers formula last season, it was get your quarterback healthy, improve defensively, get more turnovers, which is sort of like the reverse noise of the previous season and capitalize on a third or fourth place schedule. That’s Detroit.”
Additionally, if the Lions manage to make a bold draft move such as selecting a quarterback high, it might only improve their standing.
“If they take Tua (Tagovailoa) at No. 3, they have unequivocally the best quarterback situation in that entire division. The three other teams in their division all in the bottom end of draft capital, some in the bottom end in cap space, it’s Detroit. It’s a no-brainer.”
The Lions didn’t take Tagovailoa, but in the end, it might still be a no brainer to consider the team primed for a turnaround after a solid offseason of additions.
Analyst Also Sees Lions Surging During 2020
Ahead of next season, hope has come in the form of the San Francisco 49ers, a team which went 4-12 a year ago, but surged to the top in 2019 and is now in the Super Bowl after a great run through the playoffs. Thanks to some of the parallels, many have begun to dream
On the Pat McAfee Show, contributor Evan Fox is a noted Lions fan. He spent some time hyping Detroit up this week as the next team to potentially follow in the footsteps of the 49ers and go worst to first, perhaps even worst to the Super Bowl in 2021.
Here’s a look at what he said on the show as to why that could be the case:
“Don’t sleep on the Lions,” Fox says to laughter. You got Jimmy Garoppolo going down, lose every game. Matthew Stafford goes down, lose every game. That allows them to get Nick Bosa. Lions are sitting there at No. 3, could get Chase Young. Kyle Shanahan’s third year as head coach, Matt Patricia’s third year as head coach.”
At the end of the clip, McAfee said he respects Fox for having such faith in the Lions. That’s true no matter how blind it might seem.
Even Matt Patricia isn’t sure he can predict such a fast turnaround for the team in 2020, but that won’t stop many from believing it is possible.
The Lions have plenty of work to do this offseason in order to try and make this the case moving forward, but obviously, multiple folks can see a potential miracle playing out next year.
READ NEXT: Lions Lineman Shows Physique With Pool Jump