The Detroit Lions have spent the offseason trying to re-shape their roster in the wake of 2019’s 3-12-1 disaster, and how well they have done at this has been mixed in the minds of several league analysts.
Some think the Lions haven’t had enough change to warrant thoughts of contention this coming season, but not every analyst is frustrated with what the team has done. Recently, Pro Football Focus writer Ben Linsey explained that the team might be underrated this season, and their roster could be a big reason why. In fact, Linsey isn’t sure the Lions have a worse roster than any of the other “better” teams in their division.
“The Lions are almost universally expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. But the more I look at the situation, I can’t help but feel like the NFC North is wide open. It wouldn’t surprise me if any of the four teams won the division, and I’m honestly not convinced that the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings or Chicago Bears have a better roster than Detroit.”
Most assume the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings all have better rosters and a better chance at winning the division than Detroit, but clearly Linsey is pressing pause on this notion. Detroit added mostly to their defense this offseason, with Jeff Okudah, Jamie Collins, Duron Harmon and Danny Shelton representing their biggest moves, but the offense also saw some upgrades with running back D’Andre Swift and offensive linemen Jonah Jackson and Logan Stenberg coming into the fray during the draft along with wideout Geronimo Allison and lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai in free agency.
In the end, could Detroit’s roster be better than people think? That’s more than possible, especially considering how underrated the Lions might be. It’s more than possible the team will sneak up on some folks this coming season on the field.
Lions Cited as NFL Sleeper for 2020
Recently, Bleacher Report picked out 5 teams they consider to be huge sleepers based on their odds and the situations they find themselves in entering the season. Detroit checked in at No. 2, and the biggest reason has to do with the fact that Stafford figures to return in great shape and give the team more elite results and leadership.
Writer Chris Roling picked out the Lions as a sleeper team to watch and provided this as the reasoning:
“Getting a healthy Matthew Stafford back under center should do wonders for the Detroit Lions.
A back injury limited Stafford to only eight games last season, but he completed 64.3 percent of his pass attempts for 2,499 yards and 19 touchdowns against only five interceptions before going down.
The Lions offense predictably imploded without Stafford, as backups David Blough and Jeff Driskel combined for more interceptions than passing touchdowns. No running back tallied more than 403 rushing yards, and the defense ranked 26th in points allowed per game (26.4).
Stafford’s return is the biggest reason for the Lions’ sleeper status, but another offseason of building to head coach Matt Patricia’s liking doesn’t hurt, either.
The Lions bolstered their offensive line by signing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai in free agency, and they replaced three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay with Desmond Trufant and No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah. They also grabbed every-down back D’Andre Swift with the No. 35 overall pick to give Stafford some instant-impact help.
The Lions came within four points of beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4 last season, and they lost six other games by a touchdown or less. Continued smart additions to the roster around Stafford and an improving Trey Flowers-led defense give them major sleeper appeal.”
Detroit currently stands at 60-1 odds to take home the Super Bowl, but that bet could pay off handsomely for believers if the team is able to come together and solve some of their biggest problems. It’s certainly true that the team was closer than many realize to having better results on the field, and with better breaks and health might be able to do damage on the field.
For now, many might be ignoring the Lions, but eventually, that might be tough to do if things come together in this way next year.
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 also 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.
While many might be down on the Lions, clearly, some realize the potential the roster has to do great things in 2020.